Archives for Portrait

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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Monumentally Magnificent

On the night in 1987 that Bill Nebeker announced an edition of 25 castings of his sculpture If Horses Could Talk, he sold all 25 of them—and had another 75 collectors wanting to buy it as well. “It was the most popular piece I ever made; people just loved it,” he says. “You’ve got the cowboy looking for the deer, the deer sneaking away behind him, and the horse looking at the deer. It’s happened to every hunter out there. And people who don’t care for hunting love it, too, because the deer is getting away.” During the following years,
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‘My Art is About Messages’

Oreland C. Joe is committed to three things in life: his family, his art, and encouraging young Native Americans to preserve their culture. “The most valuable lesson one could ever learn in any field,” he says, “is to give your success back to the children and the community.” That is exactly what Joe is doing through a foundation he started in 2018, but more about that later. Joe has earned great acclaim for the artwork he creates, which includes paintings, stone carvings, bronze sculptures, and jewelry. He has won more awards than we have space to list here, and his
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‘How I Got Here’

During a visit last October, Susan Lyon made three admissions. The first is that she never considered herself a natural artist. She hadn’t impressed anyone with her drawings as a child. She wasn’t the student who was always chosen to illustrate the school yearbook cover or design the hallway mural. Later, while studying at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Illinois, Lyon noticed that some of her classmates seemed to be able to see spatial relationships and copy them perfectly. For her, it was a struggle. “I wasn’t someone who had ever been very confident in drawing,” she says.
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Mixing It Up

As has often been said, timing is everything. This was especially true in the case of Utah artist Jason Rich. As he’ll tell you, the stars aligned, and his time as a career artist came quickly—before he had even finished his college education. But let’s step back and follow the route that took Rich to his art career. His father, an elementary school teacher, owned a small horse farm in southern Idaho, where he raised and trained horses to sell. One of five siblings, Rich was the only one who worked alongside his father, growing not only to love—but to
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‘I’m Called To It’

Tina Garrett credits her best friend, Laura, with giving her the advice she needed to head down the path to becoming an artist. “She said, ‘You are an artist at heart; stop trying to be something you’re not,’ Garrett recalls. At the time, she had quit her job as a freelance designer and illustrator for a publishing company and was trying to decide what to do next. Her husband Adam, a firefighter and registered nurse, suggested she become a dental hygienist so that, when they retired, they could do traveling nursing and dentistry. The thought of being a dental hygienist,
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Aesthetic Visions

Stark rock outcrops towering over desert vistas, waves breaking on a coastal paradise, billowing clouds over serene mountain settings—for many years, those were the images that Glenn Dean most frequently chose to celebrate on canvas. Recently, however, he has expanded his subject matter to encompass the realm of figurative work, as well. “In my early landscapes I avoided painting figures as a way of purifying the landscape,” he says. “People were included on a small scale to show the enormity of a canyon wall, or the size of the clouds. However, beginning in 2012, I transitioned into painting a lot
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‘A Beautiful Medium’

“A pencil drawing is classy. It’s classic; it’s timeless. It’s almost like a little black dress or a nice black suit; everyone should have one.” They should indeed. And if that pencil art happens to have Brenda Murphy’s name attached to it, it’s even more classic. Her pieces are magnificently drawn. The detail and texture are exquisite. There is no need for color. In fact, Murphy says, “It’s a compliment, when someone looks at one of my graphite drawings and says, ‘It doesn’t need color, because I can visualize it.’ They see beyond the black and white. It gives them
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