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.
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’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.
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.
When you look at the originals you see the texture and paint application and marvel at the elegance of his approach.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.
Nope, none of them are available – he had four paintings in the show and they all sold out.
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 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.
This was the first time I saw one on his paintings. How does someone master both sculpture and painting so completely in one lifetime?
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 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!
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).
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!
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 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.
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.
I don’t know of anyone that can match his bold and skillful use of color for drama.
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!
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.