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
"Storm Watchers" pronghorn completed
It all went well. I was satisfied where these pronghorn were leading me. At the design stage, I was toying with the idea of placing this solidly in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. I decided to save that for another painting. The mood fixed itself straight away. No sense cluttering the message.
A Real Favorite
Behind the bison, perhaps no animal quite represents the lore of the West like the pronghorn. A true American original, this amazing creature became a favorite subject matter of mine early on. This painting will be @ InSight Gallery for their Fall Show, September 1st.
This is day two but reflects days of reference gathering, pléin air painting, research, and designing. The sketch may appear fairly vague. I'm working out some of the finer details on the board.
I resisted from going too far on this sketch. This can be a tricky decision, at least for me it can be. If I'm too eager, I could miss a crucial aspect, revealing a flaw in the end, wasting days if not the painting entirely. But, if I go too in depth, churning endlessly on a design, the painting can have a calculated and non-atmospheric edge. This is just as unsuccessful.
Here's the sketch...
I've taken thousands of pronghorn photographs in the field and have great reference. The numbers you see indicate my photo files. I tweaked gestures, eliminating some and checking those I'll use. I have a thorough understanding of the mood I want the painting to convey, atmosphere, palette. I am leaving room for happy discoveries, nuances that happen when you quit thinking. I use a similar process in each painting. I tend to continue to sketch and design until I fully grasp in my head what the painting will look like. I'll update once completed. Thanks, for reading!
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.