Texas Cowboy 1870's
Western themes are my focus because they reflect on memories and experiences that have stayed with me throughout the years. This includes a lifelong love of the West; the triumphs and the hardships illustrated throughout history, and being from a family that personally took part in the development of this great epoch. It also comes from living in the very places where these dramas unfolded and where the ruins remain. Adding to that resource is a library of books and movies that have influenced me personally, and our culture as a whole.
John Wayne and Coleen Gray in "Red River", 1948
In the early 1950's, before we had a television in our home, I remember lying on the floor and listening to programs on the radio such as The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, and Wild Bill with his sidekick Jingles. Later I would go to Saturday movie matinees with other kids and see westerns on the big screen, especially those of John Wayne and Randolph Scott. Those experiences and the land are ingrained in me, and are ingrained in generations of Americans. However each artist chooses to interpret their vision of this theme, there is honesty to it, and it is something we can all be proud to share.
I work directly from still life setups, not from photographs. As a result, I am always collecting western and Native American objects that can be used for my paintings. I obtain old guns from a variety of sources and reproductions from Cimarron Firearms out of Fredericksburg, Texas. A jeweler friend will antique the metal, and I will work on the grips, stocks or gun leather to make them look used and worn. Other things like saddlebags, cuffs, chaps, hats, pottery, and blankets are gradually added to my collection when they suit my purpose.
Throughout the years my work has taken a number of turns, both in subject and in media. It has been a valuable process of experimentation and pushing limits. The one thing that remains constant is my devotion to realism, because as a realist, I am able to technically create that which seems real, and challenge imagination through illusion. My current work feels like an old friend. It is a natural embodiment of my life, and those elements that have been part of my life.
"Red River" cattle drive