By Bonnie Gangelhoff
California painter Morgan Weistling is known as one of the great visual storytellers of his generation. His complex scenes often feature scores of characters engaged in activities, from a family gathering around a fireplace to women and children at a quilting bee. Weistling brings a master’s touch to lighting, atmosphere, and mood. Like a talented movie director, he invites the viewer into the scene, yet he often leaves interpretation to the imagination of the beholder. Weistling is fond of saying that he hopes people will enjoy his artwork as much as he enjoyed painting it.
Has your style or approach to your art changed since you first appeared in Southwest Art? That was the first year of my career and I was not on everyone’s radar, so I didn’t have the pressure on me to make sure every painting was able to be scrutinized by the world. But after I won a Prix de West award, I started to get noticed, and I’ve now become extra careful to make every painting worthy of attention.
What is your proudest accomplishment so far? That I’m still making a living as a fine artist.
What advice do you give to artists just starting out in their careers? Make sure you have an idea of what it is you want to paint before you even talk to a gallery. Also, have a theme that runs through your work. And have it be something you really love. Finally, get a gallery with a good reputation that takes care of you.
What motto do you live by? Squint. I have that painted above my easel.
What artists have influenced you? Fred Fixler and the usual suspects: John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Joaquín Sorolla, Nicolai Fechin, Dean Cornwell.
What are you working on now? I’m working hard on a large piece for the Masters of the American West show in February. It’s 60 by 44 inches and there are 14 people in it.
What’s your next big goal? To survive as an artist until the day I die.
Trailside Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY; www.morganweistling.com.
Group Miniature Show, Trailside Galleries, December 1-31.
American Miniatures Show, Settlers West Galleries, Tucson, AZ, February 2010.
Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, CA, February 6-March 7, 2010.
First appearance in Southwest Art: Artist to Watch, January 1999
Awards won since then: Purchase Award, 2008, Prix de West, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK. Patrons’ Choice Award, Artists’ Choice Award, and Purchase Award, 2008, Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale. Patrons’ Choice Award and Artists’ Choice Award, 2007, Masters of the American West. Purchase Award, 2002, Masters of the American West.
Show participation since then: Prix de West and Masters of the American West.
Price change since then: The first painting I gave to Trailside Galleries was a 30-by-25 and it sold for $2,800. Now, that painting would go for $28,000.
Featured in “Success Stories” in December 2009