We decided to pick up a frame order in Arizona, and while my mother-in-law had visited Arizona, she had never seen Saguaros. We decided to combine efforts: she'd fly home to Florida from Arizona, and my wife and I would pick up frames. My mother-in-law is 80 going on 60 and hiked with us, providing a wealth of knowledge on plants. Although this was to be family time, I was surprised by the amount of reference gathered.
My interest in animal life is varied, but the desert has beckoned me since my first trip to New Mexico as a teen. This trip I studied the desert perhaps more intimately than on previous trips. Putting some meat on the bone, so to speak, with new paintings was a goal. As a professional artist, I wanted to cast aside thoughts that restrain creativity.
I began with inspiration as a driving force, and the desert did not disappoint. I saw more mule deer on this trip. While this wasn't as in-depth as a typical research trip, it panned out with some good reference and more so in inspiration and knowledge. I was able to catch this little rabbit taking a break from the heat of the day. The cottontail was such a good model, he demanded to be painted. Fortunately, he was quite content to rest in the desert shadows while I took some pics and made mental notes.
The trip taught me I can become too comfortable in the studio, but more surprisingly in the field as well. I can't force inspiration. There is something always more interesting. Sometimes it is as simple as a little cottontail.
Available: Legacy Gallery
I'm nostalgic. Flat-out nostalgic. I enjoy steam engine locomotives, old classic cars, and chicken dinner at Ma Grimm's house on Sundays. I really miss those Sundays. That translates to my paintings. My wife recently told me I had a reoccurring theme in my paintings of an animal looking back. I never looked at it that way, but I guess it could be true.
When I'm designing a painting, I think as if I'm one of the subjects. Animals interact in all different and sometimes hilarious manners. They are curious. After a long dry spell, our whitetail will frolic in a puddle just to splash or chase each other as if they were playing tag. They often look back. Some look for familiar changes due to poor eyesight, among other reasons. As I'm at the drawing board, I question what the animal I'm about to paint hears, thinks, and feels. At times on the prowl, or overtaken by hormones and age-old impulses, or sometimes simply grazing.
This brings me back to, well, looking forward. I have opportunities to revisit wildlife that I've not painted recently and explore new ones. As nostalgic as I may be, I am thoroughly fired up about what's ahead. It is now. Like classic cars, traditional, wildlife art is timeless. Not much time to look back these days. Let's look forward!
"Canyon Quiet" InSight Gallery
"Territorial View" Legacy Gallery
7/1/2022 update, "Canyon Quiet" will be the cover of Texas Outdoors Journal, Aug 2022 issue.
How to Say It
I live with a painting before it's sent off, the longer the better. I turn it away from view to later return to it, flip it upside down, study, review, only to live with it a week or two more. The last review before delivery usually loops through a process of me pondering a myriad of what-ifs.
I intensely study ways to unjumble thoughts and impulses. Simply saying what one wants to say is a baffling pursuit. With paint, it can be a rabbit hole.
Early last summer we noticed a particular fawn. Short-legged, a little gawky, she seemed to prefer us to her peers. If we sat on the porch to enjoy the evening, "Lil Bit", as my wife named her, came to visit. Her mother's grunts were useless as "Lil Bit" scampered up unabashedly. With no other deer in-sight, she disregarded chainsaw activity, and burning brush to graze alongside us during chores.
When we took to a hotel during our February ice storm, we left a supplement of corn nearby for the wildlife. Two does and a variety of birds were lost, but Lil Bit appeared unscathed.
If this little doe has anything, she has moxie. Although she is becoming more doe-like and visits less frequently, her trailblazing style is infectious.
Available: InSight Gallery
"Heads Up" could well be the theme for 2020. Much maligned, the year will go down in the history books as a heck of a tough year to get through. However, when things go awry, opportunities are born! I won't sit and cry in my oatmeal, it's time for work and as my wife says, "At least we don't have a skunk in the attic". Well said.
These thoughts stem from a commission destroyed in freight shipping. Other artists told me it would happen eventually. Yep, Murphy's law caught up to me. I had to adjust plans, create a painting to surpass the original, order a new frame, and negotiate reimbursement for the original with the shipper. I'm one to believe that no experience is without a reason and I'm stubborn enough to not allow this experience to eat at me.
Let's keep our heads up, get out there and get after it! In response to the change of schedule I painted "Heads Up" for The Museum of Western Art, Round Up Show and Sale. Always wary this buck has raised his head from a quick graze. I hope it is a scene many can relate to!
The 37th Annual Roundup at The Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, TX will be held Sept 26 -Oct 31.
"Spanish Dagger" 24" x 40" Briscoe Western Art Museum Auction 2019
I aimed to muster up the best of the Texas brush in "Spanish Dagger". Each year the lure of the whitetail increases with each passing day as fall nears. Bucks can be monsters in the brush and this guy was a brute. It is all about the buck and the yucca, both of which are aptly nicknamed "Spanish Dagger".
In South Texas, seasonal colors vary from year to year depending on temperatures. I've been there when barely a sprig of green is evident and then other years, like the one in the painting, summer hugs winter allowing for extended growing season creating a thick yet airy lushness as rain allows.
"Spanish Dagger will be at the Briscoe Museum of Western Art, live auction March 29.
"Horns at Honey Creek" is reminiscent of scenes throughout Texas, however, this is set west of San Antonio. Love of family and land kept this second painting close to home. My grandparents arrived as children in Galveston, TX from Germany in the 1880s. They met, married and purchased 239 acres, not 10 miles from where I grew up in Central Texas. We all have stayed in Texas since.
Longhorns captured my imagination early on. Self-reliant, rugged and the mascot for the University of Texas in nearby Austin, longhorns dotted the landscapes of ranches throughout Texas and were accessible subjects for me to paint.
"Horns at Honey Creek" is in the Hill Country. I'm unsure if the creek got its name from the color or the taste, but I imagine it's probably a little of both. The dappled light of the shade play on the pattern of the longhorns. Summer is ending with cooler days on the way.
"Horns at Honey Creek" 24" x 32" Briscoe Western Art Museum, Night of Artists 2019
The Bountiful Season
Our whitetail bucks have chased the does relentlessly. We have a very confident non-typical buck that is a great looking up and comer. He will give the big guy a run for top status next year.
Neighborhood foxes are emblazoned in their finest coats, and all of our wildlife, coyotes to bobcats seem to be enjoying the cooler weather. It is my favorite time of the year.
With such seasonal abundance, I decided to paint a Rio Grande turkey. I admit a fondness for these birds. I think I have mentioned this before, but what characters! Their mannerisms range from fierce to comical and they always prove to be great subjects.
Hope this finds you as excited about the season as I am. Although I want to be gathering reference, today, the easel is calling and I have some things I want to accomplish. The larger painting I am working on is flowing nicely and I look forward to sharing. Stay tuned!
"Western Winds" 24" x 36"
Just doing their thing. That is strength. That is the feeling I had when watching these bison. Blustery weather arises. Grit can blow and wind can sweep, yet they carry on. I aimed to capture their genuine strength.
The internet and social media are hurdles. I'm only on Linkedin not because I'm not social; I don't do my best work when I see too much of the same content. I have also found a need to limit technology in the studio. I have internet, I stream music, but I limit browsing. I've heard it argued that artists from the past would have used the tools of modern technology if available. Maybe so, but would their art be better for it? Probably not.
Others have differing viewpoints, but this is what works for me. I'm not a technophobe, I just believe it can homogenize and sterilize, like synthesizers in music. The quirks of the human hand bring warmth and soul.
I really don't like talking much about it. The art should say it. Proof should be in the painting.
Looking forward! Gearing up for some Texas whitetail! Our bucks are the best yet. Almost all have rubbed off their velvet and are beginning to bulk up. Can't wait for the show!
The two toms are attempting to entice the hens. The one tom is almost in full strut and is anchored along with the other tom by the yucca in the background.
My goal was to paint a strutting tom without the "Thanksgiving" look. I really wanted to have the tall yucca but not have it overpower the birds. I went through a myriad of designs. By trial and error, I found that anchoring the strutting tom with the yucca negated each from becoming too much a focal point. The tom with his head high demands attention, creating a natural eye flow. That's the idea. It will head to InSight Gallery in Fredericksburg on completion.
Sharing my attention is a grizzly painting for Legacy Gallery, Jackson Hole. It's cooking so to speak. It's coming along as hoped and planned. I've made a real effort to get back to creating natural and honest paintings. You go out and learn all the tricks only to strip it back down and go acoustic. I think this is true in most of life. Plan to post it soon. Stay tuned!
Painter of western wildlife and landscapes, constantly seeking to balance impressionism and realism sans trickery. Brian works as a full time artist in Central Texas. Exhibited at Rockwell Museum, Briscoe Museum, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and National Museum of Wildlife Art.