Showing posts with label Thom Ross. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thom Ross. Show all posts

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cowboy Art Reinterpreted

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

The “cowboy artist” has long been associated with American art. The lore of the West and the cowboy lifestyle are good source material for many painters. Some artists like to portray these themes in a more contemporary way. The cowboy – or cowgirl – is still in the picture, but in a stylized, interpretive manner.

For example, Amy Watts – who is actually a southern gal from Georgia – has a unique style that enables her to tell her stories in a modern way.

“I’ve been a cowgirl all my life,” she said. “Western history has always fascinated me, and I was a horse trainer for 20 years. Amy received a college degree in art illustration, but she didn’t start painting seriously until she stopped training horses. Her epiphany came at a visit to the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. “I admired the paintings of Shonto Begay, and I realized that I was already interpreting Western art in a more contemporary way.”

Amy says she likes to tell a story in her paintings. In “The Black Mare’s Life,” Amy portrays the life cycle of a horse. Surrounding the focal area of the horse and its cowgirl rider, there are smaller sections that depict its life. The upper left circle shows the young horse in a field with its mother; in the upper right circle, the horse is being trained for the first time by a cowgirl; and in the lower right area, the horse has been turned out to pasture in retirement.

A key component of Amy’s contemporary take on western art is her use of patterns and her illustrative style. “My grandmother was a quilter, and I think that influenced me. Also, I grew up around roses, and that pattern appears frequently in my work.”

“The Good Samaritan” is another example of Amy’s modern interpretation of an old story. Taken from a biblical parable of hope and how one should behave, this painting depicts a Native American man helping a stranger. The figures are stylized, and the colorful patterns create a finely designed background. It pays to look at Amy’s work closely, since something new is always emerging from the painting!

Charles Davison has a different approach to a southwestern theme. A collector of textiles, beads, buttons and other items, he creates collage pieces that present his subjects with a fresh approach. In his painting entitled “Back Road Boys,” the cowboys strike a typical pose, but the mood is very playful. The colorful clothing is cut from different fabrics, and collaged, along with buttons on the shirts and neck scarves. Another evidence of Charles’ contemporary style is his layering of paint, fabric and paint again to create the textures he wants.

His love of textiles can also result in a new textile of Charles’ creation. “Running Horses” is presented on an unstretched canvas, painted with many layers and collaged with fabrics and bits of beads and buttons.

Charles is inspired by southwestern art, as well as the rock formations around his home in Superior, AZ. “My work is more mystical than representational,” he said. In “Night of the Vision” he alludes to Native American spirituality, and clothes his characters in strips of fabric, beads and antique jewelry.

Thom Ross calls himself a “storyteller who paints.” His narrative art has a very specific theme and purpose. He focuses on iconic western American heroes who have become mythic figures.

“I’m interested in how we take a story with an historical foundation, and turn it into a more romantic version of the actual truth,” he said. “In my paintings, I like to depict these heroes as real people who are actually much more interesting as human beings with their own flaws.”

Thom sees the humanity in his figures, but he still portrays them in a stylized, graphic way. These cowboys are active, yet they appear flat. Their long legs stretch under full-length coats, and their macho look is accentuated by their strong – yet not very defined - faces under their big-brimmed hats. I especially like the geometric shadows he places under his figures. A good example of Thom’s style is his painting entitled “They Cast Long Shadows,” which refers to the three Earp brothers from the gunfight at the OK Corral.

“These men cast long shadows in our western culture,” he said. “They are insignificant outside of their mythology, which embodies the human spirit and courage.”

The “Clanton Gang” also refers to the story of the OK Corral. The Clantons are crossing Allen Street and going to their death, according to Thom. The line he painted underneath each figure is symbolic of their crossing and their courage. “With that decision, these unknown men become part of a world famous story,” he explained.

These contemporary artists express many themes we already know, but it’s nice to see them portrayed in a new light.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Myths, Truth & Western Characters

Thom Ross | Doc Holiday
Doc Holiday 40"x30"
Thom Ross | Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp 40"x30"
Myths and truth are the narratives that run through the distinctive paintings by Thom Ross. In his art, Thom paints famous Western characters in a distinctive way that tells a more complex story than the traditional historical myths we have come to know. “I’m a storyteller who paints,” he says.

Some of Thom's most well know  paintings is his ongoing series of works about the Gunfight at O.K. Corral.  Here is a bit of background on the Gunfight at O.K. Corral from Wikipedia:
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a gunfight that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Territory, of the United States and which is generally regarded as the most famous gunfight in the history of the American Old West. The gunfight, believed to have lasted only about thirty seconds, was fought between the outlaw Cowboys Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and his brother Frank McLaury, and the opposing lawmen Virgil Earp and his brothers Morgan and Wyatt Earp, aided by Doc Holliday acting as a temporary deputy of Virgil. Cowboys Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight unharmed, but Ike's brother Billy Clanton, along with both McLaurys, were killed. Lawmen Holliday and Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded. Only Wyatt Earp came through the fight unharmed. The fight has come to represent a time in American history when the frontier was open range for outlaws opposed by law enforcement that was spread thin over vast territories, leaving some areas unprotected.

Thom Ross | Clanton Gang Crossing Allen Street
Clanton Gang Crossing Allen Street 18"x18" giclee print

And here are a couple from our image archives.  Some, Thom painted many years ago:

Thom Ross | Gunfight at OK Corral
The Gunfight at OK Corral  oil on canvas 48"x72"  2009

Waiting in the Corral, oil on canvas 48"x48" 2005
Midnight Tombstone Quartet 2005
Billy Clanton, 2001
Virgil Earp, 2001


Tom McLaury is Dead, 2001
Billy Clanton's Last Shot, 2001




Friday, August 19, 2011

The Wilde "Wild West"

Why has Western-themed art always been so popular with collectors?

So many of us are interested in the stories of the American “Wild West” and the characters who colored our history there. To me, Western art has a unique duality: the romanticism of traveling through beautiful country on a horse and the tough, grittiness of the cowboys who embrace this life.

At Wilde Meyer Gallery, there are several artists who have brought their own subjective interpretation to the theme of western art. Their styles range from traditional to contemporary, and their subject matter focuses on landscapes, wildlife and the people who follow the western traditions.

"Once He Rode the Wild Horses" acrylic on panel 24"x24"
by Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson uses very intense colors, which he says are based on the sacred colors of the Lakota people. He is a descendent of Wendel Phillips, a noted Indian rights advocate of the late 1800’s.

Nelson says, "Through my paintings, I attempt to illustrate the legends and spirituality that was taught to me by my grandmother. The subject matter I paint is not a modern Indian, but a people at a period of time when animal spirits were tied to everyday life. In our modern world, an inquisitive public is reaching back into the ancient times for a simpler way of life and the basics; the sky, the earth and the open prairie." 

In this painting, entitled “Once he Rode the Wild Horses,” Nelson uses red and other primary colors to depict the strength of this noble man. His direct gaze at the viewer is riveting, and Nelson’s use of the American flag design on his clothing and in the buffalo appliqué provide thought-provoking irony. To me, the green spots that dance across his chest create additional energy in the painting.

Paul Sheldon
Paul Sheldon refers to old western photographs to make sure his cowboys’ clothing is accurate. But his paintings are far from traditional!  His strong colors energize his western scenes and give his paintings a contemporary edge.

"Montana Busters" 30"x40"
by Paul Sheldon
"The Ranch Lassie"  33"x36"
by Paul Sheldon

In “Montana Busters,” two figures sit straight on horseback against a flat, stylized mountain background. The grassy plain in the foreground is bright red – a considered choice of subjective color – broken by the long cobalt blue shadow. The turquoise outlines around the cowboys make them appear three dimensional, standing out in front of the background.


"Moonrise Over the Red Wall" acrylic on canvas  31.5" x 41.5"
by Thom Ross
 Thom Ross
Thom Ross is another Wilde Meyer artist who interprets Western art in a personal way.   Thom brings his love of history and story-telling to his paintings, which he sees as a “contemplation of history and the people and events which so shaped it."

In “Moonrise over the Red Wall,” the two cowboys take a tough stance, staring at and assessing the viewer.

The artist’s strong brush strokes; unusual horizon line; and stylized mountains topped by a flat moon sphere definitely get my attention. There’s some very strong masculine energy here, and I expect these guys to come to life and start shooting!

Carolyn Hawley

"It's a Hair Cut and Shave" oil on canvas 24.5" x 28.5"
by Carolyne Hawley
 Carolyn Hawley presents a much more traditional view of the western cowboy.

In “It’s a Hair Cut & Shave,” her subject sits in the center of the painting, astride his horse. He looks like he’s just come from a long trip (his horse looks a little tired..) and he’s contemplating whether he should dismount and get cleaned up at the local barbershop.

Carolyn uses sunlight very effectively to make the cowboy and his beautiful horse stand out against the darker background.

"Beyond the Burros"  oil on canvas 31" x 31"
by Sarah Webber
Sarah Webber
Western wildlife is Sarah Webber’s passion.   Her painterly close-ups of southwestern birds and animals show her love of these creatures, as well as her love of the painting process.

Sarah’s work is figurative, but her strokes creative wonderful patterns. You can see this talent in both “Beyond the Burros” and “Trick or Treat.”

These animals look so interested in the viewer! I think any of Sarah’s paintings would look great hanging near other western art, such as one of Carolyn’s pieces.

Writing this blog has really opened my eyes to the many different styles of American western art. I’m pretty impressed!


"Trick or Treat"  oil on canvas 20"x32"
by Sarah Webber
Wilde Meyer will have a special selection of Western art showing in October,  click here for more information or send us an email.

Figures of the West
October 6, 2011 through November 2, 2011
 Wilde Meyer Gallery, 4142 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale, AZ. 480-945-2323.

Animals and Places of the West
October 6, 2011 through November 2, 2011
Colores, 7100 Main Street, Scottsdale, AZ. 480-947-1489

Also, please visit us during Western Artwalk on Thursday October 9, 2011.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Father's Day: It's Art not Electronics

"A Quick Cup O' Joe"
by Paul Sheldon
giclee on canvas 19" x 13.5"


I’ve been thinking about Father’s Day, which is on June 19. I know most men would love to have an iPAD, but that would be so expected (or wished for). This year, why not do the unexpected and purchase some artwork for your husband/dad? Men enjoy seeing something attractive on their wall, and a gift of a painting can be enjoyed by the whole family.  Here at Wilde Meyer Gallery and at our online shop, ColoresAz.com, there are many selections, from giclee prints to original oils.

I definitely don’t want to be sexist about some recommendations, but since it’s for Father’s Day, I’ll go for the more “masculine” works. If your gift recipient likes cowboy art with a contemporary flair, check out prints by Thom Ross, such as “Running Gunmen,” or “The Clanton Gang Crossing Allen Street.”
"The Clanton Gang Crossing Allen Street"
by Thom Ross
Giclee on canvas 18" x 18"


Paul Sheldon also paints “manly” style, and offers several prints of his colorful cowboy work including “A Quick Cup o’ Joe,” (as seen at the top of the post) or a beautifully rendered painting of three horses called “Breakfast Bunch.”  If your guy likes cars better than horses, Paul also does a great painting called “Flatbed Ford.”
"Flatbed Ford"
by Paul Sheldon
giclee on canvas 16" x 27"

And, there are several other Wilde Meyer artists who find cars a favorite subject . . . 

Bill Colt uses mixed media on canvas to depict colorful images of old power cars, such as this one, called “Desert Caddy.” His painting “Roadmaster,” takes us back to a time when big grillwork was all the rage – that might evoke some fond memories for your Dad!

"Roadmaster"
by Bill Colt
mixed media on canvas 24" x 48"
Michael Baum is another artist who favors Western imagery, and his paintings depict  small mining towns and isolated ranches as well as urban street scenes. Some of Michael's paintings are lighthearted and playful, such as this giclee print on canvas called “Hide N’ Seek.” Others express the loneliness and solitude of the Western landscape.
"Sunrise on an Arizona Backroad"
by Michael Baum
oil on canvas panel in frame  16.5" x 19.5"


A vintage car also appears in Stephen Morath’s high color serigraph entitled “Arizona Noche.” It’s a fantasy road trip in the southwest, where all the fun themes of the desert come together.

"Arizona Noche"
by Stephen Morath
serigraph print on paper 25" x 31"

Women artists paint cars, too! Connie Townsend’s beefy cars are usually on a wild ride, and, as in “Beagle Scout”, they are driven by some crazy dogs.

"Beagle Scout"
by Connie Townsend
oil on canvas 30" x 30"

Brian Boner’s huge oil called “Tractor 1707” would be great for a guy who has a big wall space and likes looking at cool farm machinery.
"Tractor 1707"
by Brian Boner
oil on canvas 65" x 68"


Well, actually, I think I have been sexist in my suggestions! But since you know your Father’s Day guy the best, just go back to the Wilde Meyer Gallery website and check out the other artists’ work to find the one that he’ll like.