Archives for Figurative

It Starts With Color

Known for ethereal and evocative paintings and drawings, Zhiwei Tu is a textbook example of someone whose determination and hard work have raised him from a humble life in China to the status of award-winning artist. His paintings are inspired by his love for the people, history, and culture of his homeland and have earned him international recognition. Since 1990, when a gallery in Chicago, Illinois, became the first in the United States to carry Tu’s work, he has been honored with more than 25 one-man shows and dozens of exhibitions in the United States, China, Japan, Algeria, England, France,
Read More

Journeys Into History

Until a functioning time machine is invented, the next-best way to travel backward into history just might be to take a long, careful look at one of Heide Presse’s richly detailed figurative oil paintings. In doing so, you’ll find yourself somewhere between 1840 and 1860. Zoom in anywhere—the model’s hairstyle, the appliqué pattern on the quilt draped over a chair, the intricate construction of the bonnet, the hem of the petticoat peeking out from beneath the calico skirt—and you’ll see the result of Presse’s meticulous attention to detail. Presse is a gifted painter, but she is also a keen student
Read More

Leaning Toward His Easel

When viewers take note of the authenticity in Teal Blake’s body of Western artwork, they get a simple reminder that whatever painting he’s working on, it isn’t his first rodeo. In fact, before he got serious about art, Blake was on the college rodeo circuit and was so obsessed with it that he flunked his art classes. “At that point in your life nobody can tell you anything,” he says. “I wanted to be off chasing horses and be in the brush and live that wild life for a little while. I didn’t pay as much attention as I should
Read More

Genuine Moments

Deborah Copenhaver Fellows had two major projects underway late last spring: a monumental sculpture of the 19 firefighters from Prescott, Arizona, who died battling a wildfire in 2013 and a statue of rancher John Palmer Parker for the town of Waimea in Hawaii. Both were nearly complete and ready to roll when the coronavirus pandemic hit. “COVID stopped both,” Fellows says. Fellows hasn’t taken many breaks in her 45-year career as an artist. She comes from a long line of workaholics, she explains, and she’s happiest when she’s busy working. Plus, she loves her job—and she knows that she’s lucky
Read More

Living His Dream

At the hand of Pennsylvania artist Robert Griffing, Eastern cities and roads of today morph into scenes of 18th century Eastern Woodland Indian villages and pristine forests. Where most people see buildings, cars, crowds, and concrete, he sees the area as it once was and renders portraits of how these Native Americans lived, dressed, and worked. Griffing’s love for Eastern Woodland Indians began when he was a young lad growing up in Linesville, Pennsylvania, which is rife with lore and artifacts of the Seneca and Erie Indians. One day, while exploring the shores of nearby Lake Erie, he discovered a
Read More

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
Read More

The Studio of William Matthews

During the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in the spring, William Matthews was spending a lot of time in his studio, and he didn’t mind it a bit. His custom-built studio, which sits behind his home in Denver, Colorado, has always been his sanctuary. It’s his personal space, a place where he can be completely alone and paint in peace. Usually, however, Matthews has appointments to keep at his gallery and office in Denver’s RiNo Art District. That 12,000-foot space includes a woodshop, a frame shop, meeting areas, a public gallery, and his office space. He almost always has projects
Read More

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
Read More

Portraits of the Past

Ranging in scope from mountain men and covered wagons to Native Americans and working cowboys, Steven Lang’s illuminating compositions provide highly personal insights into Western history. Tracing his Pawnee and Cherokee heritage back to his great- grandparents, the California-based artist has a special affinity for creating imagery that portrays the life of Native Americans. However, an oeuvre of work created during the past three decades also includes action-filled scenes of cattle drives, saloons, and Indian war parties. An inveterate storyteller, Lang finds it equally satisfying to depict the more intimate moments of everyday life. Although they might have lived a
Read More

Making Art Sing

No matter what Cyrus Afsary paints, he makes his subjects sing. The Arizona artist infuses his landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and anything else he paints with head turning beauty that stops you in your tracks. That is his goal with each painting. “My primary objective is to have a viewer stop and wonder how I managed to express the light, color, or composition in the paintings,” he says. “I want them to look at the work in wonder, not pass it by too quickly.” How does he do it? “I don’t know,” Afsary says thoughtfully, going on to compare art
Read More