Archives for Genre

Hitting Their Stride

Maybe it’s using complementary colors. Perhaps it’s painting in black and white or sepia tones. Maybe it’s diving deeply into one subject matter to capture it perfectly. Artists go through phases of work, improving their techniques and finding their places in the art world. Whether it’s at the beginning, middle, or later in their careers, something just ‘clicks’ when artists find the subject matter, medium, or technique that allows their creativity to shine. Meet three artists who are hitting their stride, and who are being featured in Art of the West for the first time. They are worthy of your
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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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Western Nouveau

To understand Thomas Blackshear II’s segue into Western art, you need to understand his storied career. It seems that the Colorado artist never does anything halfheartedly, nor does he redo the tried and true. In fact, he likes to take what other artists are rendering and tweak it to show viewers something they recognize, but he does so from an innovative perspective. Blackshear likens his work to rappers who take old music and give it a new slant. Relatively new to the Western art genre, Blackshear hit the scene about three years ago. “I’ve had a long and varied career,”
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The Studio of Jim Rey

Jim Rey has painted in a variety of studio spaces: a bedroom, an alcove, a family room, a garage, even a rented room in a country motel. And he happily did so, as he pursued his dream of becoming an artist, after working in commercial art for several years and later in the computer industry. In 2012, Rey finally was able to claim for himself an actual studio at the home he shares with his wife Sharon in Durango, Colorado. It was a long time coming, but it was well worth the wait. Rey had started painting in the early
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What is Art?

It’s a question that has been asked for hundreds of years: What is art? While there are several definitions of the word, what one person perceives as art might not be perceived or accepted as art by another person. One of many definitions of art is “an expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.” Using that definition certainly leaves the door wide open for labeling many different types of creations as a “work of art.” In most
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The Fire Continues to Burn

For Tom Browning, there was never a doubt that he would be an artist. And, oh, what an artist he has become! The many awards he has won and the respect he has earned from peers and collectors give testimony to his talent Browning’s depictions of the West—its people, wildlife, horses, cowboys, and Indians—come from the heart, from a deep love and respect for his subjects. His love of art goes back to his childhood. Born in Ontario, Oregon, in 1949, he was fascinated by the artwork he saw in magazines. By the time he was 9, he was drawing
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The Long and Winding Road

“I was an out-of-control child,” John DeMott says. “I was right-brain from the get-go. We would walk to kindergarten, and sometimes I wouldn’t make it to class, so my mother would come looking for me, and I would be catching butterflies. I did what I wanted to do, not necessarily what I was supposed to do. I have kind of marched to my own tune my whole life.” He has indeed. But, oh what a tune it is. Today, DeMott is a successful artist—and part-time musician—living in Loveland, Colorado, where he is surrounded by the natural beauty, the people, and
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Western Inspiration

The son of American missionary parents, Don Oelze was born in New Zealand in 1965 and lived there for the next nine years of his life. Despite those beginnings half a continent away, who now lives in Montana, has been blessed with the ability to portray the history of the American West with a remarkably vivid and captivating reality. The explanation of this gift is simple: From early childhood, his mother and father had piqued their son’s curiosity about Western and Native American cultures by sharing stories of their own upbringings in Arizona and Montana. His maternal grandmother reinforced the
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Personal Connections

When Huihan Liu was a child in rural China, he managed to save enough money to buy a small sketchbook. The store, where he could purchase it, was several miles away from his home, but Liu chose to walk instead of taking the bus, so that he could use all of his money on paper. “It was just a little piece of a sketchbook, but I was so happy to have it,” he says. “I would draw on it and then erase it, so that I could draw on it again. I drew on that paper over and over again.”
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Truth, Beauty, and Happy Accidents

Ask Eric Bowman what he does for fun, when he isn’t painting and you might get a long, slightly self-conscious silence, followed by this sheepish admission: “When I’m not painting, I’m thinking about painting.” Bowman spends long days in his backyard studio in northwest Oregon, patiently creating richly textured oil paintings in a style he describes as “not as tight as realism, but not as abstract as impressionism.” Sometimes he paints figures, sometimes he paints landscapes, and occasionally he does a still life. On the rare days Bowman feels uninspired, he attends to the busywork that goes along with being
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