Artists of Note | D. Arthur Wilson

A whimsical artistic philosophy

D. Arthur Wilson, All That and a Bag of Chips, pastel, 14 x 11.

D. Arthur Wilson, All That and a Bag of Chips, pastel, 14 x 11.

This story was featured in the August 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

D. Arthur Wilson has art in his genes. His grandmother created artisan signs during the Great Depression, and his father was a painter until Wilson was 3 years old. He painted his first portrait at 12 and sold his first painting at 14. By his late teens he was participating in mall art shows, which were popular in the late 1970s and ’80s. With no formal training, Wilson learned his craft from the art books of his youth and through life experiences with other artists. “I did pen and inks, watercolors, oils, acrylics, charcoals, pastels, portraits, landscapes, and still lifes,” Wilson says. “You don’t know what you really love to do until you try a bunch of stuff.”

Wilson painted countless portraits until he was 25 and then made the switch to his signature wildlife expressionism, which he paints exclusively in pastels. “I’ve always been intrigued by getting close to animals and staring into their eyes; it’s a great mystery what they’re thinking,” he says. Then an epiphany occurred when he was commissioned to paint three ostriches in Oklahoma; out of that experience, his famous Rhupert the ostrich paintings were born. Wilson’s career has continued to reach new heights since then, and his Rhupert paintings are now in 48 states and over 20 countries and embody the philosophy Wilson has developed over the years. “It’s paradoxical whimsy,” he says. “He’s a metaphor, a messenger to lighten up, be yourself, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Through him I knew I had found my voice as an artist.” —Joe Kovack

Wilson’s work can be found exclusively at Art Gone Wild Gallery, Key West, FL, and Santa Fe, NM.

Featured in the August 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art August 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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