Meet 8 artists who make their homes in the Lone Star State
This story was featured in the March 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Chuck Mauldin remembers using oil paints to re-create images he saw in instructional art books when he was just 12 years old. Now he’s capturing the picturesque landscape that surrounds him in the Texas Hill Country. The Texas native enjoyed a 28-year career in chemistry, but the artistic spark remained with him throughout, and over the years he sought out workshops with Charles Sovek, Kevin Macpherson, George Strickland, Ted Goerschner, and many other accomplished artists.
One surefire characteristic of a truly remarkable scene, Mauldin says, is the sunlight. “It’s the play of light and shadow, particularly later in the afternoon, that will make me stop the car and take pictures. When I see sunlight doing something that’s just really dramatic, I have to stop.” It comes as no surprise that adding the light colors is the artist’s favorite part of the painting process, whether en plein air or in his studio. “If you’ve done a nice job of setting up all the dark values, then you get to put the lights in—and that’s when the whole painting comes to life.”
Mauldin enjoys adding animals and figures to his landscapes—sometimes cows, goats, or horses, other times cowboys and Native Americans. Oil is his preferred medium for its forgiving nature and its surface quality. “I love brushwork and texture,” he says. “I want the painting to look like a painting.” Mauldin’s work can be seen at Fredericksburg Art Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX; Lee Bunch Studio Gallery, Del Rio, TX; The Gallery at Brookwood, Brookshire, TX; and www.chuckmauldin.com. —Jessica Canterbury
Nancy Paris Pruden
For Houston painter Nancy Paris Pruden, deciding on a subject simply requires assessing her mood each day. If she feels like painting in a more realistic style, she might set up a still life in her studio. If she’s craving looseness and texture, she might go for a portrait instead. Most of her recent works, however, are landscapes; group plein-air painting sessions, as well as overnight trips with students she teaches, fulfill her need for being out in nature and interpreting the experience.
“It’s like any athletic pursuit, where the practice makes the act become unconscious,” says the artist. “There’s a bliss that happens in plein-air painting, where you have no idea how long you’ve been there, and you have this almost euphoric sense.”
Paris Pruden earned her bachelor of fine arts from the University of Georgia and then studied with David Leffel, Gregg Kreutz, Quang Ho, Carolyn Anderson, and Joe Anna Arnett before attending the Art Students League of New York. Once her children were grown and away from home, she returned to the Art Students League for a formative period in her career. “It was very exciting and intimidating,” she says. “The intensity of it was huge.”
Today Paris Pruden teaches workshops in the United States, Mexico, France, Ireland, and Italy in addition to teen art camps. “Teaching takes time away from my painting, but it’s very important to me to share my tricks,” she says. “I feel like art is magic, so anytime you can show somebody a magic trick, it’s something that you both will enjoy.” Her work can be found at Thornwood Gallery, Houston, TX, and at www.parispruden.com. —Jessica Canterbury
From envisioning an image to making final choices about colors, the entire process of creating a woodblock print is a form of meditation for Texas artist Daryl Howard. Howard’s meditative state of mind is evidenced in her artworks, which convey a sense of serenity and calm whether she portrays houses by the sea or offers an intimate view of a flower. Her prints are often minimalist in style, straddling the delicate line between realism and abstraction.
Among the artist’s key influences is Hodaka Yoshida, a master Japanese woodblock printmaker, with whom Howard trained early in her career. And at the core of her printmaking is a Japanese technique known as bokashi. The technique involves applying colorless rice paste to a moist wooden printing block with one brush, then applying colored ink with a second brush, and finally blending them together with a third brush. This results in a gradation of color from light to dark that provides variety, depth, and a unique quality to each print.
Similar to the traditional Japanese woodblock artists, Howard’s subject matter often spotlights the beauty of the natural world—the earth, stones, and rivers either near her ranch in Austin or in far-flung locations across the globe. “Often I believe that I must have been Japanese in a past life, as this medium feels so natural to me,” Howard says. The artist’s work can be found at David Dike Fine Art, Dallas, TX; Flatbed Press, Austin, TX; Ronin Gallery, New York, NY; and www.darylhoward.com. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Wherever Gary Frisk travels, he packs several essential items—his plein-air gear and a trusty camera. On vacation last summer in Michigan, one of his goals was to paint an old boat in dry dock. Within five miles of his hotel, Frisk found what he was looking for: a boatyard brimming with picturesque vessels. He soon set up his easel and three hours later finished LAST RESCUE, depicting a boat that had patrolled Lake Michigan for years and was used to rescue people in distress.
The Houston-area artist is currently an engineer in the oil and gas industry. But over the years, he has carved time out of his busy schedule to study painting at the Glassell School of Art, associated with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. For subject matter these days, Frisk is drawn to structures and vehicles with character. For example, on a business trip to Ohio several years ago, he discovered the small town of Mount Vernon, which is set amid a scenic rural landscape. He pulled out his camera and began capturing various signs and symbols of life in the town. Two of the paintings he later created, one depicting a weathered farm tractor and the other a well-worn bridge, eventually won a number of awards. They showcase Frisk’s signature style that features expressionistic brush strokes and a lush, juicy texture. As for what he wants to convey in his work, the artist says he is satisfied if he can give viewers “peaceful delight and joy.” Collectors can find Frisk’s work at www.garyfriskart.com. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Peter Andrew says that when he first wakes up in the morning, “I am not an artist.” It is when he begins to paint that he goes through a transformation. “When I go into the studio and work a while,” he says, “it sensitizes me. When I pick my eyes up from my work, everything looks stunningly beautiful. I realize that the world hasn’t changed, but my sensitivity to it has.” In this place, Andrew is an artist—one who looks to the natural landscape to explore the internal environment of our humanity. “Color is the vocabulary that allows me to communicate ideas,” he says, “and the landscape is the vehicle that other people can relate to in order to connect to those ideas.”
Working in various media, partially because of his long relationship with an art-materials company, he says, “I move between materials as the need arises.” Like a musical composer, he chooses the instruments that produce the effects he’s hoping to achieve.
Recently Andrew has been working on a series of tropical landscapes in watercolor. “No inch of this planet is ugly,” he says. “I like to find humble places and elevate them through the design of a picture to the level of awe.” His focus on the landscape comes from his respect for nature and his belief in the importance of connecting to the natural world. “The measure of effectiveness is whether my work induces awe in the viewer,” he says. Andrew’s work is available at www.peterandrew.net. —Laura Rintala
Fish, frogs, and rabbits adorn bronze vessels by Jammey Huggins. The artist, who calls Seminole, TX, home, can trace her interest in wildlife back to childhood. Early on the native Texan realized that the creatures she was so fond of observing had unique characteristics. Today one of her artistic missions is to capture that uniqueness, as well as the power and sensual forms that she discovers in animals.
Huggins studied art at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa. Over the years she has traveled extensively in the Southwest and Mexico, exploring ruins and studying the wildlife, people, and cultures of the regions. Thus collectors can expect to find indications of her fascination with Native American spiritualism, symbolism, and mysticism referenced in her artworks. “The petroglyphs, pictographs, pottery, beadwork, and flint tools of ancient times have had a tremendous effect on the subject matter for both my sculptures and paintings,” Huggins says.
Although Huggins has painted for a number of years, she eventually began devoting most of her time to creating bronze vessels and sculptures. “I like the feel of the clay in my hands, of being able to move it around and watch the three-dimensional object take shape,” she says.
Huggins’ artwork can be found at The Signature Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, and Santa Fe, NM; The Adobe Fine Art, Ruidoso, NM; The Gallery at Round Top, Round Top, TX; The Gallery at Brookwood, Brookshire, TX; and www.jammey.com. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Darin Wood has always been interested in nature. “I could have as easily pursued an art degree because of my interest in the outdoors,” he says, but instead he majored in biology, which resulted in a deep understanding of animals as well as a deep appreciation for them. “I love to paint birds,” he says, because although they all fit into one biological class, “the difference between a finch and a pelican is astronomical,” he says. “I never get bored painting them.”
Originally from Canada, Wood has spent his lifetime outdoors. A fan of fly-fishing, his many hours on the water—first in Canada and now near his small Texas town midway between San Antonio and Austin—inform his body of work. “One of my favorite pieces is of a black-crowned night heron,” he says. “How it hunts for crawfish is just awesome to watch. You don’t often think of birds as hunters.”
Wood hasn’t pigeonholed himself into any specific subject matter, and his portfolio is as rich in landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes as it is in waterfowl and domestic animals. Whether his subject matter is the beloved pet of a client, an intimate scene of a mother brushing her daughter’s hair, or a still life of lime wedges and a shot glass, he explores lost and found edges while creating visual movement. He also maintains an economy of critical and purposeful brush strokes, and he plays with color until it strains the boundaries of realism. Wood is represented by Nic Campbell Studio and Gallery, Sisterdale, TX; Palmer’s in San Marcos, TX; and www.darinwoodfineart.com. —Laura Rintala
Julie Asher Lee
Julie Asher Lee didn’t realize she could paint until she decided her children needed a mural and set out to make it herself. A friend, who saw the finished piece in Lee’s home, introduced her to a scenic artist, and in 2007, Lee began painting sets for a local theater company. In 2011, she thought she might give oil painting a try, and it quickly became a passion.
The youngest of seven children, Lee didn’t have the most traditional upbringing. She was raised “in the middle of the woods” in Missouri with six brothers who were serious outdoorsmen, craftsmen, and musicians, who hunted with handmade bows and tanned the resulting hides. The love of the natural world extended to the entire family; they regularly rehabilitated animals, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to have pet skunks, squirrels, or turkeys.
All the while, Lee was beginning to see the world as an artist. “We would go on float trips in southern Missouri, and I would notice the light, the way it hit the water, and the way it would go through the trees and the leaves,” she says.
Today the artist, who specializes in North American wildlife and landscapes, lives on a working cattle ranch in Cleburne, TX. When she’s not in her studio painting, she teaches at a local cultural arts center and an arts academy for home-schooled children. She enjoys photographing her subjects, watching attentively to capture a gesture, and is always on the hunt for dramatic lighting. Lee’s work can be seen at The Bare Wall Gallery, York, England; Big Bear Native American Museum, Cleburne, TX; The Cottage Market, Burleson, TX; and www.julieasherlee.com. —Jessica Canterbury
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