Few things in life possess as much soul as original art. As wild places are calling to be enjoyed, I push aside technology. Technology replicates, not originates. I feel the grass under my hands; I hear the distant bugle of elk or the rattling of antlers as bucks spar. There is no place for shortcuts, only inspiration and hard work.
This painting percolated for almost two years. I began with the dust devil. Some reach to the heavens and twist with admirable fury. They travel without hesitation, driven by heat, passing through ranches and livestock. I gathered my reference from West Texas to Eastern Arizona.
I was fortunate to grow up around cattle. At times, they'd barely lift a head while grazing; at other times, they were spooked on a whim. Longhorns are as tough as the terrain. They are as western and wild as it gets and made the perfect cast of characters.
An honest scene that borders on chaos was important to me. I thought of an old tumbleweed I picked up on a trip in my twenties. It was right out of an old western, and occupied sizeable space in my bachelor pad for years. The tumbleweed is as iconic as the longhorn and the dust devil making the story complete. Heck yeah!
When it comes down to it, longhorns are downright relatable. Anyone who has lived half a life can admire their tough-as-nails, at times ornery, at times sweet, disposition. The Spaniards knew what they were doing when they brought them to the Americas.
𝑺𝒆𝒕𝒕𝒍𝒊𝒏' 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒖𝒔𝒕 ©2022 36" x 30" Museum of Western Art RoundUp
I started painting longhorns right out of the gate. I got inspired by our dry summer and that welcomed drenching, unusual for Aug/Sept. Locals rejoiced and not only the two legged variety! We had a blast watching whitetail frolic and nearby longhorns act half their age.
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
Back in early 2019 in planning paintings for the 2020 show at InSight Gallery, I decided I wanted to paint a moonlit longhorn scene. I got inspired after seeing such a scene after a long day of reference gathering.
I waited for well lit nights to do some plein air color studies. As I designed the piece I realized the size needed to be substantial.
With my sketch on paper, I begin sketching on the gessoed board with paint. Diagonal lines in pencil make it easier to scale.
After the initial sketch is in place, I pay closer attention to anatomy. I continue to refine.
Now I begin to put a wash down. This will give a warm undertone.
Jumping forward I begin to refine in color. I continue this process until completion. Although the scene is serene, I wanted a shimmer and movement in the light. Western history and cattle lore often centered around the night watch. The stars are bright on this night, but the longhorns take center stage.
The West & The Wild
Brian Grimm & David Griffin
Reception May 1, 2020
"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