March 18, 2010

The Art of the West

For over 100 years, the west has held great appeal for thousands, even millions of people. And just a few years before Westward Expansion became a time frame in American History, artists and sketch masters ventured west, drawn by the beauty and the grandeur of the wide open spaces, majestic mountains, and untouched landscapes. Perfect for capturing the essence on paper and in photographs.

Last month, I mentioned that I was starting work on a series of westerns, full of cowboys, ranches, riding range and roping. I'm excited more and more each day as I research, plot, develop, and write. Some of my favorite books on my shelves are westerns, and I return to them time and time again.

But that wasn't enough.

Westerns are all too common in fiction, and especially the inspirational market. So, I brainstormed with my critique partners and came up with a unique hobby for my lead heroine. Although she travels west and takes a teaching position, art is her true passion. She knows she can't support herself on art alone. The teaching provides her the income that leaves her free to sketch and paint.

To depict her accurately, though, I had to look up some actual artists of the time period and view some of their works. Albert Bierstadt is one of my favorites. Has been since I was a young teen. I own a copy of one of his prints, and I've studied his style so extensively, I can pick out of a piece done by him within seconds of seeing it.

Some of his characteristics are:
  • water or waterfall
  • deadwood in the foreground
  • mountains
  • sunsets or grand cloud formations
  • wild animals
  • nature untouched
Once you see enough of his pieces, you might be able to identify his pieces by sight only too.

So, do you know of any artists who are known for painting the west? Do you have any favorites? Either an artist or even a piece of artwork. Perhaps you have one or more pieces hanging in your home.

If you don't own any pieces or have any favorite artists, but you still enjoy the art or even reading westerns, what about the west appeals to you or catches your attention? Either in art or books. Characteristics, qualities, elements, etc. I'd love to hear from you.

** images above taken from the following sites:,,, and

Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author in Colorado. They have 1 daughter and a border collie. She has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing, is a columnist for the ACFW e-zine and writes other articles as well. Read more about her at her web site:


Crystal Laine Miller said...

Of course, I love Remington, but love any of the Western artists and love Native American art. When you come to Indy for the ACFW conference, you have to take time to go to the Eiteljorg Museum and Connor Prairie Farm. You will be so glad you did.

A J Hawke said...

Western art has fascinated me all my life. Charles Russell, Frederick Remington, Thomas Moran, and of course Albert Bierstadt are some of my favorites. At least twice a year I go to the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Over 2,000 pieces of art are part of just one of the galleries, the Art of the American West.

I am thrilled to hear that publishers are more open to Westerns. A truly American literary form does not lose it appeal over time. Each new generation is open to it. One only had to look at the continued sells of Louis L’Amour books decades after they were written. A parallel is the continued interest in the works of Jane Austen. They appeal across time and generations.

Thanks for a great post on Art of the West.I will be watching for your new books.

A J Hawke

Anonymous said...

I love Remington too. I have a painting of the Grand Tetons that I bought while in Jackson Hole WY. I love the colors, the grandeur and the way it takes me back to our trip. I think it was by a local artist. I also had a Remington reproduction of a cowboy holding his saddle. It's about 9 inches tall and we gave it to our grandson for his western decorated bedroom. Martha Rogers

BK said...

The artists already mentioned are great. I also enjoy the much lesser known artists/reporters and whatever other jobs they held who documented their travels with sketches. This helps me tremendously as I'm researching Arizona history for my novels. Folks like J. Ross Browne and others are great for helping me visualize what a place might've looked like back then.

Kathleen L. Maher said...

I live in New York state, so I don't get to see the natural beauty of the west very often. That is, unless I drive twenty minutes to Corning, which boasts the biggest collection of Remingtons and Russels this side of the Mississippi at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. In addition to these paintings and sculptures, they have an Alfred Bierstatd panorama and countless other western pieces.
I can see why world famous painters flocked west a hundred years ago to capture its scope. If you;re ever in upstate New York, stop in and see this collection.

Nice post!

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I've always loved Russell and Remmington. We're blessed here in Ft. Worth, Texas, to have a rather large collection of western art, both paintings and bronze sculptures.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Ahh yes. Russell and Remington. Two more amazing artists. I know we have some museums and halls of fame here in Colorado Springs too, but I haven't yet ventured out to see their collections. I'm sure with this new series I'm writing, I'll be there before long.