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!
I'm deeply grateful to the good folks at Texas Outdoors Journal for honoring my painting, "Points of Interest" with their October cover. This publication is THE resource for outdoors Texas and can be found on newsstands across the state. TOJ Outdoor News Show is celebrating their 29th year on the radio.
For more information: TOJ
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.
"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.
A strong fall cold front arrived bringing an early freeze. Ideal weather for our whitetail, they appeared oblivious to the frigid temperatures. Our kids visited with their blue heelers and the deer made quick game of these two porch dogs. The does came to taunt each morning casually bounding over the fence when time arose. This went on each morning until a buck interrupted with more pressing issues.
The bucks made fast haste of the cold snap. The rattling of tines were heard most evenings echoing across the valley. It's the timeless, sweet music of nature that feeds the soul.
I'm reminded of what fuels me. The new windows overlooking our valley have made the studio a joy to work in and I'm eager to get painting with each sunrise. Much like the blue heelers, I have never been one to let go of a chase.
Art collecting has similar sensibilities. A collector may chase the piece that got away, the one that sold out from underneath them or engage in a marathon hunt for that perfect piece of art. That too is part of the sport of life and I'm told it is thoroughly enjoyable.
"Stickers & Stones" will be included in a two man show I'm having along with artist David Griffin, April 2020 at InSight Gallery. I'll select 6 - 10 paintings for the show.
I'll have more on the remodel, which has been a great journey, and what's on the easel. 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!
I am finishing up several paintings. "Under American Skies" 36" x 48" is on the easel awaiting a frame. I'll do the finishing touches; something may catch my eye to change.
I had this picture of the landscape in my files for years, waiting for the right idea. I came across it recently and it clicked. The title needed to be fitting of the beauty of bison on the western prairie. I love the western expanse and wanted to do justice to its depth. I kept in mind the peacefulness of the prairie and the grazing bison and thought the silver-toned light would give an air of tranquility.
On the easel is a large whitetail for InSight Gallery. I love the feeling of stepping into the scene! I have spot-on reference. I've gathered a good amount of reference over the years and I'm making strides in getting more these days. Legwork is essential. Reference trips this fall should solidify a couple of ideas I have simmering.
Texas Masters Show at InSight Gallery, March 2, 2018
"La Gran Sombra" (The Big Shadow) 22" x 28" oil/board InSight Gallery - Texas Masters Show
This painting is of a South Texas whitetail from a friend's ranch near Cotulla, TX. Two items set this painting into motion, the whitetail buck and the large acacia tree, (Huisache) he is emerging from behind.
The largest of these bucks instinctively hug the shadows of very early morning or late day, when the shadows become great. The thick expanse of brush south of San Antonio offer ample cover.
I really enjoy the raw beauty of the Brush Country. There is a peace that comes over me sitting in the stand and yet when an animal emerges my heart races with excitement. The camera captures the details and my paint records in sketch, the energy and emotion of the moment.
I can't tell you how many times I revised the drawing for this buck. I took it to different easels, different rooms, in the frame and without. After a break, I'd go back to wipe him clean and begin again. I was determined not to begin painting until I was fully satisfied.
One slight shift of the leg and he was too tense. After much tweaking, I was ready to paint!
I'm keeping several paintings under wrap. I'm doing this more lately...living with them. Getting to the point without forcing. Letting the painting slowly develop with careful editing. It's an easier thing to do now at forty-nine.
"Gillespie Gold" was such a painting.
"Gillespie Gold" 22" x 35"
Another example that I held on to before releasing was "Timber's Edge".
"Timbers Edge" 24"x36"
I currently have three paintings I have been toggling. Not ready to show; they're months in the making. I rack myself making certain I won't later regret them leaving my hands. This is more than income. Art represents beauty, order, nature and all that is good. I deeply regret when I don't hold up my end in some small way. Comment and critique are for others to decide merit. I have to hold to the standards I set. To pull from a previous post, "run the good race".
Inspiration comes from the strangest of places! Recently I found Valisa watching harness horse racing on one of those upper cable channels. It was unusual enough to stop me. In 14 years, I have never seen her do this. Valisa grew up in Florida and her dad liked visiting the racetracks and jai alai. She was caught in a nostalgic moment.
These horses are incredible athletes with graceful long strides reaching speeds of 30mph. The race went the first lap without a break-away. The jockeys (called drivers) were obviously holding back. One name stuck out, Major Masterpiece. Very cool name! By the second lap, I found myself rooting for this horse on name alone.
That is what we artist yearn for, Major Masterpiece! If we paint it all the better, but someone, step up! Paint, make it count!
Lost in the moment I thought, "GO!"...Major Masterpiece was well behind but in a flash bolted to the lead. He was flying. The announcer was hyped with excitement as Major Masterpiece crossed to win. With the quintessential snap of a 1940's radio announcer, he proclaimed, "Major Masterpiece has fled the scene!"
It all resonated so well! Such a springboard of inspiration from such an unlikely source. I remind myself, good things are worth waiting for. With fresh eyes and renewed spirit, I go back to the studio.
"Gillespie Gold" was in many ways a return to my roots...
The Texas Hill Country has a rugged beauty that is ripe with wildlife. Although this could very well be anywhere in the Hill Country, this scene is west of Fredericksburg in Gillespie County before the Mason County line.
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.