Posts by Vicki Stavig

Young Talent, Old Soul

Brittany Weistling was thrilled when she was invited to be a guest artist at the 2012 Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale. That meant her paintings would be exhibited outside, rather than inside, the main gallery, but that was just fine with her. Weistling’s paintings sold, validating what the show’s officials already knew: Her talent deserved to be showcased during the event, which is conducted each year at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California, and features works by some of the country’s top Western artists. What made the experience remarkable was
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Responding to an Angel’s Tap

Jake Gaedtke has told this story before, but it’s worth retelling because of the impact it had on his life. When he was in second grade, Gaedtke and his classmates took a field trip to a museum in Detroit, Michigan, where he was so mesmerized by the paintings there that he lost track of the rest of his class. He eventually found them— and he found his destiny. “That was when the angel of art tapped me on the shoulder,” Gaedtke recalls. “Looking at those paintings, I knew that was what I wanted to do.” It would take some time—and
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Manipulating Paint

Tim Allen Lawson loves trees and goes to great lengths to capture their natural beauty and texture. That explains why he has portions of trees hanging in his studio in Maine and has a variety of rather unconventional tools—including sandpaper, wire brushes, sticks, and steel wool—at the ready to help him as he paints. “I always had a love affair with trees,” says Lawson, who has homes and studios in Sheridan, Wyoming, and in Rockport Maine. “My studio in Maine is heated with wood,” Lawson says, “and I would cut all my own firewood. I was fascinated with the bark
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The Studio of Jim Norton

Jim Norton’s studio is just as he likes it—overflowing with things he loves. That includes paints and paintings, cowboy and Native American accoutrements, and hundreds of books. The studio, he admits, is for working; it is not a showplace. It is where he creates his depictions of the West, past and present, which have earned him international acclaim. Located on the walkout level of the two-story house he shares with his wife, Pam, on two acres of land in Santaquin, Utah, Norton’s studio opens up to a beautiful backyard oasis. That outside setting is as awe-inspiring as his paintings: full
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Still Going Strong

Artists will tell you that creating art is a career—but it’s not a job. Why is that? They see creating art as a calling that is so intense it cannot be ignored no matter the risk. And there is indeed risk, financial as well as personal. They put their work out into the world, where everyone who sees it will judge it. If it’s deemed worthy, it will sell. If not, it’s on to the next painting or sculpture, determined to do better. The four artists we feature on the following pages have a combined age of 344 years and
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A Dream Come True

David Fink considers himself one of the luckiest men on earth. That’s especially true at night when he turns off the overhead lights and turns small spotlights on low to highlight his 13-piece collection of wildlife portraits painted by Ken Carlson. “They just come alive,” he says. “It’s a grand collection.” It is indeed. The result of a commission that took two years to complete, it consists of 12 10” by 13” paintings and one 16” by 13” of a wolf that serves as a centerpiece to the others. Those paintings are a source of amazement and joy for Fink.
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A Lifelong Journey

“Landscapes taught me how to paint.” That is how Dave Santillanes describes his fine art training. The Colorado artist had earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in graphic design from Colorado State University, but had no formal training in painting until he began painting landscapes near his home after work and on weekends. Today he has several awards under his belt, including first-place honors in the Signature Division of the Oil Painters of America’s recent online showcase. He also has earned awards at several plein air events, including Best of Show at the 2011 Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational
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Chasing His Dream

Eleven years ago, when Tim Oliver walked into his house in Lubbock, Texas, his wife Missy took one look at him and asked, “What’s wrong?” “I don’t know,” he replied. The next day, when he received an email advertising a four-day classroom and plein air painting art workshop, he realized what it was that was bothering him. For 30 years he had put aside his desire to paint, but that email brought it back to the surface. “I had hit the 50-year mark, and I thought that all those things I said I’d do I better do,” he recalls. “I
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The Power of the West

“I was born a storyteller.” So writes Mark Kohler in his book titled “Going West.” And he tells those stories brilliantly through his paintings of everything from working cowboys, bronc riders, and ropers to remudas, escaramuzas, and still lifes. “My art mirrors my life and experiences,” he writes. “We paint what we are.” Kohler loves what he paints and goes to great lengths to capture scenes—and people—that captivate and inspire him. He visits ranches in several states and takes a myriad of photographs of the people who work them and the animals that inhabit them. It took awhile for Kohler
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Winter Wonderland

Something magical, almost mystical occurs with a snowfall. It brings with it great joy, which is readily apparent when you watch a young child seeing snow for the first time, or attempting to swallow the flakes as they fall. They also seem compelled to lay down in it, swinging their arms and legs to and fro as they create snow angels. Snow evokes a myriad of emotions. It can carry with it a sense of peace and wellbeing that for some involves sitting inside by a fire and watching the snow gently falling outside. On the other hand, it can
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