By Bonnie Gangelhoff
Luke Frazier spent every spare childhood moment he had hunting and fishing in the unspoiled mountain wilderness near his boyhood home in Provo, UT. As a high school senior, he finally picked up oils and a brush, and he continued to paint as a college engineering major. “When an art professor said I could make a living as a painter,” he recalls, “I put on blinders and I never looked back.” A bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s in illustration soon followed, and Frazier was launched on a career combining his two loves, nature and art. Southwest Art recognized the emerging wildlife artist in September 1997, the same year his work first appeared in the prestigious Prix de West show.
Has your style or approach to your art changed since you first appeared in Southwest Art? I put more thought into my paintings now. The anatomy of animals is much more correct, and I’m developing the surrounding landscapes more.
What is your proudest accomplishment so far? Proudest and most humbling has been studying with wildlife artist Bob Kuhn, just knowing the man and being a student of someone I admire. It’s a huge compliment when my work is compared to his.
Would you have done anything differently? I might have stepped on some toes when I was younger, coming on with a big head of steam, but that wasn’t my intent.
What advice do you give to artists just starting out in their careers? I give the same advice Bob Kuhn gave to me: Draw, draw, draw. Never stop drawing, no matter what the subject matter.
What motto do you live by? Honesty is the best policy, in both art and in life. If you aren’t honest, it always comes back around to get you.
What artists have influenced you? Among the contemporaries, there’s George Carlson, Tucker Smith, Clyde Aspevig, Richard Schmid. Among deceased artists, there’s Kuhn, of course, along with Carl Rungius, Edgar Payne, Herbert Buck Dunton, and Philip Goodwin.
What are you working on now? I’m just finishing When the Wind Blows, a painting of a polar bear for the Autry’s Masters show next year. I’ve been working on it for about four years—painting and then putting it away, adding arctic foxes to create a story line, adding some motion to it with wind and snow spray. It’s a very simple painting, but very powerful.
What’s your next big goal? To take more risks, to make more important, gutsy paintings.
Legacy Gallery, Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ; Settlers West Galleries, Tucson, AZ; The Gallery at Midlane, Houston, TX; Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. Fine Arts, Boston, MA; The Sportsman’s Gallery, Atlanta, GA; J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, NY; www.lukefrazier.com.
Masters of the American West, Autry National Center of the American West, Los Angeles, CA, February 6-–March 7, 2010.
Featured artist, Southeastern Wildlife Expo, Charleston, SC, February 12-14, 2010.
Night of Artists Show and Sale, Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio, TX, March 25-26, 2010.
First appearance in Southwest Art: Profile, September 1997
Awards won since then: What meant the most to me was being included in the 40 Artists of the New Century by the National Museum of Wildlife Art in 2000. It meant that people were looking at my work and saying, “This young man is going somewhere.”
Show participation since then: Next year will be my tenth Prix de West at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Price change since then: In 1997, a 36-by-48-inch painting was around $10,500, and now it’s around $28,000.
Featured in “Success Stories” in December 2009