So, what’s so special about the Prix de West Invitational?

For most of my life I’ve lived within 12 hours of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, but I had never attended the Prix de West until this year. Now I plan to make it a yearly trek because the 7 hours I spent exploring the show is worth every second of the 12 hour drive.

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City (credit)

There were more than 300 stunning pieces of art at the show by many of the country’s most celebrated and collected artists. That’s a crazy amount to try and fit into a single visit, but my sore feet from walking all day was a small price to pay for such a beautiful reward.

Understandably and sadly, no photography was allowed, so I am relying on other’s photos for this blog.

There’s no way either you or I have time for me to cover every artist in the show so I’ll highlight some of my favorites.

37 Stunning Paintings from Artists at the Prix de West

Brent Cotton

Prix de West Brent Cotton

Under the Tall Cottonwoods – oil painting by Brent Cotton sold for $22,000 by Prix de West (credit)

Brent Cotton’s painting Under the Tall Cottonwoods won the Prix de West Hurley Memorial Award. Brent has an exceptional grasp of painting early morning or late evening light.

T. Allen Lawson

Prix de West T. Allen Lawson

Nursery Tree 32×35 – oil painting by T. Allen Lawson purchased for $48,000 by Prix de West 2017 (credit)

Three of Lawson’s exhibition catalogs are part of my ‘inspiration books’ collection. His paintings need to be seen in person to understand the subtle transitions of color and value that make his work extraordinary. Photography just doesn’t cut it.

Prix de West T. Allen Lawson 2

Happy Hour 30×21 – oil painting by T. Allen Lawson sold for $35,000 (credit)

When you look at the originals you see the texture and paint application and marvel at the elegance of his approach.

Len Chmiel

Prix de West Len Chmiel

An Early Bloomer 36×48 – oil painting by Len Chmiel sold for $43,000 (credit)

Chmiel’s waterlily painting is phenomenal – every couple hours I would come back to look at it again. His painting is filled with beautiful brushwork and small color shifts that made me feel like I was right there at the edge of the pond.

This painting won the 2018 Robert Lougheed Memorial Award.

Walt Gonske

Prix de West Walk Gonske

Along the Rio Pueblo – oil painting by Walt Gonske (credit)

The first time I saw Walt Gonske’s work was at the Claggett Rey Gallery in Vail, Colorado in the mid 90’s. He’s still one of my favorite living painters. The Nedra Metteucci Galleries in Santa Fe is a fantastic place to see his paintings up close.

Prix de West Walk Gonske

Across the Big River 28×32 – oil painting by Walt Gonske sold for $16000 at the Prix de West (credit)

His work is courageous and powerful. He can place seemingly unnatural colors next to one another and cause the viewer to say ‘of course, that’s exactly what I would expect to see.”

His thoughts about painting fit perfectly into what I strive to teach in the Master Oil Painting training videos –  “I spent years learning how to reproduce nature on a canvas, and I guess I could spend the rest of my painting life doing that. I might grow a bit more that way,” Gonske said “Or, I can open myself to change, give up control over the process, get out of the way, and maybe the work will take on a life of its own. By shifting away from what I already know, I allow that unknowable creative spirit to come through.”

Bonnie Marris

Prix de West Bonnie Marris

Power Play 30×48 – Oil painting by Bonnie Marris that sold for $19,000 at the Prix de West (credit)

Bonnie was one of our earliest Blank Canvas interviews because I am a total fan of her wildlife paintings – and have been since the late 80’s.

She captures the wonder of wildlife better than about anyone else out there. When I see wolves or mountain lions in her paintings, I feel like I know them – as if we’ve met before and are good friends.

Get to know Bonnie better with her Blank Canvas Interview:

Blank Canvas – An Interview with Bonnie Marris

Josh Elliott

Prix de West Josh Elliott

Land of Living off the Land 24×48 – oil painting by Josh Elliott sold for $14,400 at the Prix de West (credit)

Josh’s paintings look deceptively simple. As you study them closely you realize he places strategic strokes of color cleverly in places that give form to the shape of a tree or hill with the hand of a master painter. Nothing feels overworked or tired.

The presentation of his four paintings was exceptional – every piece was strong and beautifully painted.

Andrew Peters

Prix de West Andrew Peters 3

Pheasant Season 26×32 – oil painting by Andrew Peters available at Prix de West Show for $16,000 (credit)

I first saw Andrew Peters’ work at the Trailside Galleries in the late 80’s. I can still picture the winter snow bank cut away by the river in his painting – it has stayed with me all these years.

Prix de West Andrew Peters 2

Lake of Glass 30×40 – oil painting by Andrew Peters $18,000 won the Purchase Award in 2015 (credit)

I was excited for him when I saw a couple years ago that he had won the coveted Purchase Award at the Prix de West Show with Lake of Glass.

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Carrie L. Ballantyne

Prix de West Carrie L Ballantyne

Summer Solace 23×15 – oil painting by Carrie L Ballantyne sold for $22,500 at the Prix de West (credit)

Carrie L. Ballantyne is well known for her drawings, and I noticed a few years ago she added oil paint to the mix – it added a glow or luminosity to her subjects that is beautiful.

Prix de West Carrie L Ballantyne

Jessica of the Sunlight Ranch 20×14 – a colored pencil drawing by Carrie L Ballantyne – this drawing was recently in a retrospective show at the Brinton Museum (credit)

I’ve admired Carrie’s drawings for the past 20 years. Her draftsmanship is elegant and masterful.

Being married to a cowgirl probably fuels my appreciation a bit.

Bill Anton

Prix de West Bill Anton

Who’s Got the Cards 36×54 – oil painting by Bill Anton sold for $50,000 (credit)

As you already know from our Blank Canvas interview with Bill Anton, he is one of the artists I admire most. For me he ranks right in there with Frank Tenney Johnson and James Reynolds for stunning western art.

This night scene is a big piece and powerful in person, and it rightfully won the 2018 Express Ranches Great American Cowboy Award!

Get to know Bill better with his Blank Canvas Interview:

Blank Canvas – An Interview with Bill Anton

Cyrus Afsary

Prix de West Cyrus Afsary

Village Sunny Day 11×14 – oil painting by Cyrus Afsary sold for $7500 (credit)

The first time I saw Cyrus’ work was in Jackson Hole Wyoming in 1989.

His colors are rich and saturated and he’s not afraid of contrast – none of that ‘grey everything down to the nth degree’ philosophy here.

Prix de West Cyrus Afsary 2

Still Life with Carnations 12×16 – oil painting by Cyrus Afsary – $9500 at the Broadmoor Galleries (credit)

While I was at the Plein Air Paintout at the Broadmoor Galleries last week I got to see this beauty hanging on the walls – I was tempted to grab the apple off the painting because it looked so real (and delicious).

G. Russell Case

Prix de West G Russell

A Hidden Life 24×30 – oil painting by G Russell Case sold for $12,000 (credit)

In the past year I’ve seen Russell’s work at both the Quest for the West Show at the Eiteljorg and then at the Prix de West and every piece has impressed me.

He captures the western landscape with a simplicity of design and color that mask the complicated patterns of light and shadow and color temperature transitions throughout.

Prix de West G Russell 2

Days Surrender 30×40 – oil painting by G Russell Case sold for $18,000 (credit)

Nope, none of them are available – he had four paintings in the show and they all sold out.

Luke Frazier

Prix de West Luke Frazier

Honor Guard 28×36 – oil painting by Luke Frazier sold for $24,000 at the Prix de West (credit)

Now, you might wonder if Luke’s painting stood out to me simply because we use to paint together when we were at Utah State as students. Fortunately, you can see quickly that this is simply a fantastic painting.

Besides Leon Parson, my teacher and friend, Carl Rungius and Bob Kuhn are probably my two favorite wildlife artists – Luke captures the energy and painterly simplicity of both.

George Hallmark

Prix de West George Hallmark

Glory 48×36 – oil painting by George Hallmark sold for $40,000 at the Prix de West (credit)

George Hallmark has been a favorite of Kristie and I since our early days of romping around Santa Fe together.

Fortunately, he is a regular in the Quest for the West show here in Indiana as well as the Prix de West.

We love the way he portrays the shimmering warmth of New Mexico light.

John Coleman

Prix de West John Coleman

Lodge of Four Bears 52×28 – oil painting by John Coleman sold for $74,000 at the Prix de West (credit)

This was the first time I saw one on his paintings. How does someone master both sculpture and painting so completely in one lifetime?

Prix de West John Coleman

The Healer 64x24x17 – bronze sculpture by John Coleman sold for $63,000 at the Prix de West (credit)

John’s sculptures awed me right from the start when I saw them on display in Santa Fe in the 90’s! His figures just flat out feel real. They have incredible movement, texture, passion and emotion.

Morgan Weistling

Prix de West Morgan Weistling

The Barbershop 36×26 – oil painting by Morgan Weistling that sold for $40,000 at the Prix de West (credit)

Morgan Weistling is one of those rare artists whose paintings sold out literally from the moment he approached a gallery to see about showing his work. Now, he wasn’t a newbie painter – he had been illustrating for several years – but what a remarkable introduction to gallery sales!

He started at the Trailsides Gallery, and they still represent him today.

Morgan’s success is a product of flat-out masterful painting in both craftsmanship and storytelling!

Jeremy Lipking

Prix de West Jeremy Lipking

Vermillion Cliffs 20×30 – oil painting by Jeremy Lipking sold for $38,000 at the Prix de West (credit)

Arcadia (now Arcardia Contemporary) was one of the galleries I loved to follow in the early 2000’s, in part because they allowed me to view a lot of Jeremy’s work over the years. The gallery has switched gears in a direction I’m not as fond of, but I still admire Lipking’s work (I actually first saw his paintings at the Artists of America Show in Denver, Colorado in the early 90’s).

Prix de West Jeremy Lipking

Above Timberline 36×18 – oil painting by Jeremy Lipking (credit)

What stands out to me most strongly is Jeremy’s subtle use of color. His warm and cool color contrasts in the skin tones and within his landscapes are captivating!

Prix de West Jeremy Lipking

Above Timberline (detail) 36×18 – oil painting by Jeremy Lipking (credit)

When you look at his images online or in a magazine they appear more tightly rendered. When you view an original you see how much he relishes brushwork and thick and thin paint application – like in the detail above.

Susan Lyon

Prix de West Susan Lyons

Nova 22×18 – Charcoal and guache drawing by Susan Lyons that sold for $3200 at the Prix de West (credit)

Susan Lyon and her husband Scott Burdick are both exceptional artists and Scott had a watercolor at the show that was phenomenal.

Susan’s drawings though are what captured me. Her raw energetic strokes surrounding the refined features of the face caused me to think I was standing in the midst of a hurricane while totally at ease.

Beautiful!

Dan Mieduch

Prix de West Dan Mieduch

Signs of Prophecy in the Wind and Sky 24×36 – oil painting by Dan Mieduch – sold for $18,000 at the Prix de West (credit)

Those of you who own the Master Oil Painting 6-Week Course know how much I love Dan Mieduch’s work. His ability to place complementary colors next to each other for dazzling energy and the seemingly psychedelic ‘brights’ like the blue on a horse’s flank – wow!

They are even more incredible in person. He gets rich color in every area – the shadows as well as the saturated lights.

Prix de West Dan Mieduch

Medicine Tail Coulee 24×36, 2010 – oil painting by Dan Mieduch sold for $21,000 at auction (credit)

I don’t know of anyone that can match his bold and skillful use of color for drama.

George Carlson

Prix de West George Carlson

Winter in Monochrome 42×32 – oil painting by George Carlson (credit)

George Carlson is one of the artists that I specifically went to the Prix de West to see, because I had heard so much about the texture in his paintings. I did not leave disappointed!

I can see why his work takes months to complete – he uses layers of paint build-up to shift texture in multiple directions according to the movement of the subject.

Carlson’s Winter in Monochrome won the Prix de West 2018 Frederic Remington Award.

Prix de West Permanent Collection

On top of the show itself, we can also study master artists in the permanent collection from past Purchase Award winners. This is a wonderful place to spend time if you’re in need of continued inspiration!

James Reynolds

Prix de West James Reynolds

Arizona Cowboys 1992 – oil painting by James Reynolds (credit)

 

Tom Lovell

Prix de West Tom Lovell

Target Practice 1986 – oil painting by Tom Lovell (credit)

 

Bob Kuhn

Prix de West Bob Kuhn

The Lair of the Cat 1991 – acrylic painting by Bob Kuhn (credit)

 

Clark Hulings

Prix de West Clark Hulings

Grand Canyon, Kaibab Trail 1973 – oil painting by Clark Hulings (credit)

 

Clyde Aspevig

Prix de West Clyde Aspevig

Rocky Mountains, Colorado 1997 – oil painting by Clyde Aspevig (credit)

 

Wayne Wolfe

Prix de West Wayne Wolfe

Antlers in the Aspen 1982 – oil painting by Wayne Wolfe (credit)

 

Jim Wilcox

Three Last Minutes of Glory 1987 – oil painting by Jim Wilcox (credit)

 

Curt Walters

Prix de West Curt Walters

Spring’s Caprice 2007 – oil painting by Curt Walters (credit)

 

There were other artists and paintings, both in the present show and the permanent collection that are the worth the trip as well – artists like Gerald Balciar, Howard Terpening, Bettina Steinke and Kenneth Riley.

Just like the trip though, there’s just no way to fit it all in.

 

What were your favorites from the Prix de West?

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