Revisiting 10 painters who were named Artists to Watch years ago
This story was featured in the October 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Douglas Morgan | Artist to Watch June 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? I was chosen as an Artist to Watch in 2006. Since then my artwork has steadily improved. My drawing, composition, color, and values are better. I push myself to paint scenes I might not have chosen in the past, such as landscapes with figures. As an experiment, I will paint the same scene I painted seven to 10 years ago to see the difference. A big change for the better.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? Since 2006, I have won awards at the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters show and Telluride Plein Air, and I was a finalist in Southwest Art’s Artistic Excellence competition. My crowning achievement was being selected as a signature member of the California Art Club in 2010.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? The major turning point in my career came in 2005, when I was accepted into Telluride Plein Air and then sold really well at the event. I had done a lot of plein-air shows up to then and even had won awards, but sales had been modest. Not Telluride! What a boost of confidence.
What are your goals for the future? To continue to grow as a painter and produce better paintings. Everything follows after that.
What galleries represent your work? Carmel Fine Art, Carmel, CA; Fairmont Gallery, Sonoma, CA; Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; The Garden Gallery, Half Moon Bay, CA; Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY.
Brian Grimm | Artist to Watch April 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? I focus more on what I want to convey in my work. I have learned to work more with subtleties and control of light and values. Consistency in good to great work is my mantra. Consistency is elusive, sometimes frustratingly so, but I find these days I usually have the patience to work out issues or know when to put the painting away for another day. I send out slightly fewer paintings, but I hope that has led to having a polished body of work.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? In addition to museum shows and auctions, I would count as my greatest achievement the relationships that I have built in the business. I am very fortunate to have top-notch representation—a matter I don’t take lightly. With that said, I am very excited to be invited to exhibit in the Great American West Show at Settlers West Galleries and the fact that my paintings are doing so well at the Dallas Fine Art Auction. Additional magazine articles and being included in several upcoming books is wonderful as well.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? I count getting into my first major gallery, Southwest Gallery, as crucial. Another turning point would be when my work began to be represented outside of Texas with Legacy Gallery. I suppose the real turning point, however, was when I realized I needed to seriously work on consistency.
What are your goals for the future? My goals are set first by the quality of work. I would like to add something to the genre of wildlife art. In the quiet of the studio, you can always humble yourself by thinking of some of the greats looking over your shoulder. To satisfy a few of those ghosts would be a goal accomplished.
What galleries represent your work? Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY; Southwest Gallery, Dallas, TX; Whistle Pik Galleries, Fredericksburg, TX.
Michelle Gagliano | Artist to Watch October 2004
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? The Artist to Watch story came out in the beginning of my career and of exhibiting in galleries. My body of work then consisted of a surface interruption created by organic shapes of leaves, vines, and foliage over a golden-hued background. It has since evolved to focus more on the depth of the overall surface.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? I have had the honor of being included in several prestigious gallery and museum exhibitions, but I am also grateful to have a successful art career while raising some terrific boys.
What has been the biggest turning point of your career? I had a solo exhibition at Angela King Gallery in New Orleans, and a week later, I was contacted by a member of the Burchfield Penny Art Center, in Buffalo, NY, to inquire about exhibiting at the museum. It was really nice to be asked, not only to return to my geographic roots, but also it set in motion a shift in my process, and it gave me the confidence to move forward with my work.
What are your goals for the future? To expand on my entire process and explore different modes and mediums of expression. I would like to collaborate and possibly use this collaboration to move toward more digital mediums. As always, I try continually to create new works for both museums and galleries.
What galleries represent your work? Angela King Gallery, New Orleans, LA; Laura Rathe Fine Art, Houston and Dallas, TX; Martha Keats Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Chroma Projects, Charlottesville, VA.
Randy Bacon | Artist to Watch June 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? At the time, I was shifting from photorealism into a more expressive, personal way of painting. My work continues to be site-specific—the paintings are real places that I usually know very well—but now the work is more about how a place feels to me and the conditions of a situation. The paintings are still true to the locations and colors, but they are no longer transcripts of reality. The paint is thicker, and the surfaces are more textured.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? Humbling recognition by Texas museums with solo exhibitions at the Grace Museum in Abilene, the Old Jail Art Center in Albany, and the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock. My work was selected for 14 group exhibitions at museums, including the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, and the Grace Museum. I’ve had work in 70 gallery shows in Fort Worth, Dallas, Fredericksburg, and Houston; six were solo exhibitions, and 12 shows have been catalogued. I’ve gotten some nice awards.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? When I was in my mid-40s, Texas Christian University gave me a full scholarship, complete with a stipend and a studio, to get an MFA in painting. What a gift! Jim Woodson was my main instructor. He was always one of my favorite painters, and to have the privilege of working with him for two years was golden.
What are your goals for the future? To paint! The trick is to keep finding ways to experiment and learn and grow while bringing existing collectors, and new ones, with me on the journey. I’ve been lucky. I haven’t had a boss since I was 25 years old, and I hope to keep it that way.
What galleries represent your work? William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, TX; Carter Bowden Antiques, Fort Worth, TX.
Brent Jensen | Artist to Watch August 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? Early on, I was known primarily for oil paintings that included architectural elements or boat scenes. Although these types of paintings continue to inspire me, it is rewarding to have collectors who equally enjoy pure landscape and seascape compositions as well as still-life paintings.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? I’m honored to be included in a soon-to-be-published book Techniques of Modern Masters by North Light Books. Seeing some of my educational YouTube videos with 45,000 views is also rewarding.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? The year after appearing as an Artist to Watch, I became a full-time painter. Closing a successful architectural illustration business I had owned for 12 years was a huge gamble. Taking this risk created the time and mental focus needed to devote to oil painting. That decision was the biggest turning point in my career. Moving away from a part-time-painter mindset changed everything for the better.
What are your goals for the future? As travel inspires me, more plein-air painting trips are in my future. The last quarter of 2013 includes two weeks in New England, a week in Paris, and a week in Prague. I’ve enjoyed creating YouTube videos and plan to increase my presence in offering educational content. Successful workshops have dovetailed into one-on-one mentoring sessions with several talented individuals.
What galleries represent your work? Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; Tirage Fine Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA; New Masters Gallery, Carmel, CA; Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art, San Antonio, TX.
Marty Ricks | Artist to Watch May 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? I hope it has gained depth and competence, and I have tackled more demanding subjects.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? Honestly, the fact that I am still putting paint to canvas every day is a substantial accomplishment in and of itself.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? The biggest turning point in my career was when I started painting in 2001. Up until that time, my career focus was in design and production of antique replica picture frames and other home furnishings. The decision to paint in the first place will be a hard one to eclipse.
What are your goals for the future? Keep painting, keep improving! In the near future there will be a focus on my home territory of southeastern Idaho and surrounding areas. A lifelong dream has been to have a summer studio and a place to bring my family to experience the beauty of my childhood haunts. Recently I have set up a studio in Swan Valley, ID, and plan to spend increased amounts of time there, painting, fishing, and exploring.
What galleries represent your work? Atherton Fine Art, Menlo Park, CA; Authentique Gallery, St. George, UT; Banks Fine Art, Dallas, TX; Jack Meier Gallery, Houston, TX; Reflection Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Thomas Kearns McCarthey Gallery, Park City, UT; Southwest Gallery, Dallas, TX; Illume Gallery of Fine Art, Salt Lake City, UT.
Dyana Hesson | Artist to Watch July 2007
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? I have taken some artistic risks that have paid off, both in terms of personal growth and exciting my collectors. I have always dabbled in landscapes, but I did an entire show on western landscapes a few years ago that I was really proud of. It gave me a way to express more of what inspires me in the Southwest. I see myself as kind of a photojournalist, telling the stories of what is beautiful and what I have experienced in my travels, using my brush instead of a camera. Beauty will always be the priority in my work.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? I have really ramped up using my art to accomplish bigger things that have lasting impact. That brings me joy beyond compare. Each year, in partnership with Bonner David Galleries, I host a fundraiser for my favorite charity, Show Hope. In one night we raise enough funds to sponsor an adoption grant for a family that needs help with those costs. Giving back is the best part of what I do.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? I can’t say that I’ve had a huge moment on the timeline that screams out to me. I’m blessed to have been a professional artist for 22 years and [to have been represented by] Bonner David for 10 of those years. Art is about relationships as much as it is painting pretty pictures.
What are your goals for the future? A few years ago, I created a line of silk scarves inspired by my paintings. I’d like to grow that business and use it to really help many women’s charities, primarily focused on ending human trafficking. I’d also love to have a retrospective museum show. It would be great to gather up 22 years of work, have a big party, and thank all my collectors who helped get me this far.
What galleries represent your work? Bonner David Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ.
Nathan Bennett | Artist to Watch November 2005
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? I am constantly trying to push the envelope of patina. I am always searching for some new technique, whether it’s a new heating technique, a new way to put a moon in a sky, or going three-dimensional with representational imagery. I’ve done photorealistic bulls, as well as very contemporary, abstract stuff for the first time last year. While I didn’t invent patina, I have been inventing patina painting since my first attempt in 1989.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? I just finished my seventh one-man show at Meyer East Gallery. I have done a lot of gallery and museum shows. I have had the great opportunity of being represented at the SOFA expos in Chicago and New York for the past few years, and I have done ArtPalmBeach. I am lucky to be represented by amazing galleries and am grateful for their faith in me.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? When I received two first-place awards in the Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art in Springville, UT. I was amazed and honored, especially because of all of the great painters and sculptors in Utah. It’s not an easy show to get into, much less having both of my pieces win first place.
What are your goals for the future? I want to keep pushing the envelope on what I’ve been doing for the past 23 years. I am really excited because I have three-dimensional images in my head that I am looking forward to bringing to life very soon.
What galleries represent your work? Bronze Coast Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR; Cornerstone Gallery of Fine Art, Salt Lake City, UT; Mountain Trails Gallery, Park City, UT, and Jackson Hole, WY; Maria Elena Kravetz Gallery, Córdoba, Argentina; Meyer East Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.
Pat Matthews | Artist to Watch January 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? I’ve introduced a more contemporary style to my work, using a palette knife. This new work has thick, bold texture and allows me to create an almost sculptural look. I stick with vibrant colors [and I paint] in a more abstract way. I’ve also begun a new series called The Blink of an Eye. My goal with this body of work is to capture the feeling of joy, life, and energy in nature itself. I was out one time painting not too long ago, and I was surrounded by hundreds of trees of all sizes. The wind was blowing, leaves were falling, and the moment was almost overwhelming. I thought, “I have to paint this … where do I start?” So I quickly opened then closed my eyes, and painted what I saw.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? I’ve been able to make a living doing what I love to do and following my passion in life. I wanted to do this for a long time, and I’m finally realizing that dream. People have been gracious enough to put my work in their homes and businesses around the country and across the world. I’ve also had the honor of donating paintings to charities that I care about and raising tons of money, through my work, for people who need it.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? I think it was the day I decided to become a full-time artist. I actually talked to a life coach, and she encouraged me to quit all six of my architecture jobs. So I called all of my clients and asked them if they minded if I painted instead. All of them were okay with it. So the very next day, I started to paint. I am continually humbled by the attention my work has received, which serves as ongoing affirmation of the decision I made to become a full-time artist.
What are your goals for the future? It’s really simple: to continue to learn how to paint.
What galleries represent your work? Waxlander Art Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Paderewski Fine Art, Beaver Creek, CO; The Sportsman’s Gallery, Charleston, SC; Red Door Gallery, North Little Rock, AR.
Gerald Cournoyer | Artist to Watch January 2008
How has your artwork changed since you were named an Artist to Watch? I’ve incorporated the grid process of painting into the creation of works. Using this process, I’ve produced a series of Native American chiefs’ portraits.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? Building the fine-arts program at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Increasing student participation in the degree from five to 63 declared majors. Establishing working relationships with many national art-funding organizations.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? As a full-time fine-arts professor at Oglala Lakota College, I’ve inspired many college students to begin an art career or pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity. Working on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has provided me the opportunity to establish community arts programs and classes through partnerships.
What are your goals for the future? I will continue to produce works while encouraging the next generation of Native American artists.
What galleries represent your work? R.B. Ravens Gallery, Taos, NM; Pickard Art Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK; Warrior’s Work & Ben West Gallery, Hill City, SD; Menaio Garganico, San Menaio, Italy.
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