Frederic Remington (1861-1909)

by Andy Thomas

Painter of the American West, sculptor, and writer.

It is quite interesting that Remington became an artist of the American West. His family had many horsemen in their lineage. Can we suppose that he had seen or been around horses in his early years? We can only wonder.

We do know that Remington was born in Canton, New York. He eventually attended Yale University to study journalism with ‘art’ as a side. It was there he found his preference for action drawing and also football. Being on the Yale Football team was a sense of pride he carried throughout his life.

Remington took his first trip out west in 1881 where he had real views of the vast prairies, diminishing buffalo herds, free-roaming cattle, and the last major confrontations of U.S. Cavalry and Native American tribes.

In the early 1890s, he began to paint and sculpt these same subjects, eventually producing a body of possibly three thousand images via painting, writings, and sculpture, all telling a story of the vanishing Wild West. He illustrated the last days of the American Frontier. Wow! How insightful he was.

His childhood imagination became a bird's eye view that gave Remington a more accurate view of the West than some of the later artists who hadn’t seen the land. At the same time, he drew black-and-white illustrations of cowboys herding cattle, Native Americans on horseback, and clashes between settlers and indigenous peoples that put him into the spotlight...into American West history.

A Buck-Jumper (1893)

Remington's Western art not only preserved the memory of the American West but also influenced how future generations would know this era of American history. Today, his artworks continue to enthrall audiences with their timeless portrayal of the American frontier and American history.

Frederick Remington paved a fascinating history during his short life.

Dash for the Timber (1889)

Bronco Buster Sculpture

Andy Thomas Revisited

by John Pototschnik June 8, 2024

I first met Andy almost 40 years ago when participating in a Midwest Gathering of Artists show in Carthage, Missouri. And now, here we are all these years later partnering together, along with Tim Breaux, in the formation of the American Heritage Art Gallery. Andy's talent was obvious from the first time we met, and even more so today. How his career has blossomed, even flourished, is something to behold, some work selling into six figures. From the beginning, he had great ability in capturing a person’s likeness, while also telling a story about them. So, one year he created a painting of all the MGA Show participants…a cool idea. He depicted me with the high wheeler, indicating my love of cycling. (Click images to enlarge)

“Wild Days” – 12″ x 9″ – Oil

Things could have turned out quite differently. I remember being notified in 1996 that Andy had been injured in an explosion while working in his shop. His hands had been severely damaged. I couldn’t believe it and feared the worst. Later, attempting to return to painting prematurely, he further injured his right hand. That’s when he took up painting with his left hand, producing some amazing work. When both hands were fully healed, he was able to paint equally well with both hands simultaneously, while working on two different paintings…doubling his production…just kidding.

Andy didn’t begin his professional career in the fine arts. After graduating from high school, he went to work for Leggett & Platt, Inc. in their Marketing Service Department, an in-house ad agency. During this time, he also attended Missouri Southern State College, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in Marketing Management in 1981. Employed for 16 years with the Fortune 500 company, he advanced to become its staff Vice-President before finally resigning his position in 1991 in order to pursue painting full-time.

“An Eye for Trouble” – 24″ x 36″ – Oil

“One Riot, One Texas Ranger” – 36″ x 30″ – Oil

You have a strong affinity for illustrators of the past, why is that? I think they were the best artists. They did paintings that fascinate me. They have not had a chorus of art historians promoting them.

So, if you could spend the day with any three artists, past or present, who would they be? Howard Pyle, Charles Russell and Frederic Remington.

What advice would you have for a young artist/painter? Here’s the best advice that was ever given to me. I asked an artist I greatly admired the same question, hoping he would tell me something like “paint horses, you can make good money painting horses” or “go to this show and you’ll sell out”. Instead, his answer addressed my artwork; “Whatever you see as your weakness, attack it. For example, if you can’t paint hands, practice until you can”. I followed his advice. The same artist, when I asked him, “What was the most important thing about a painting?”, immediately said, “The reason you wanted to paint it in the first place”. Perfect answer. The artist was John Pototschnik.

"Companions" 36 x 48 inches - Oil

Your western themes have really caught on with collectors, why do you suppose that is? There’s a little boy inside me who wants to be a cowboy someday. I suppose that makes me paint westerns with enthusiasm.

What part does photography play in your work? I use many photos for background reference but really only paint directly from photos of rifles or pistols and sometimes for hands. In the course of painting a figure, I often pose myself and take a photo to check anatomy or clothing wrinkles.

What is the major thing you look for when selecting a subject? I have learned to fumble around with ideas until one gets me excited. Lots of thumbnails and color studies.

Collectors respectfully refer to Andy as a great “storyteller” and compare his paintings favorably to the works of Remington and Russell. Through his paintings, Andy allows the viewer to be a participant in the scene rather than a spectator.

“Showdown” – 14″ x 15″ – Pen/ink

“Desperate Ride” – 24″ x 36″ – Oil

I’ve always accused Andy of having a photographic memory because of his uncanny ability to record things he has seen or experienced. He denies my claim, but there is something extraordinary in his ability to capture a moment in time…to tell a story that is capable of transporting folks to another place and time. If he had lived in the old west, cowboys would have paid him to join them by the campfire and spin a yarn. His vivid memory and imagination enable him to create paintings pregnant with action and drama…paintings sought after by a growing number of collectors.
Desiring to learn more, Andy graciously agreed to an interview which I am pleased to share with you. I think you will find it interesting.

“Old Glory”

What advice do you have for a first-time collector? My experience shows me that people who only buy artwork they personally like are forever happy with their choice. I was always uncomfortable when people looked at my work for decorative or investment reasons. I do know that a painting you enjoy doesn’t require maintenance or your time, like so many other things we buy.

Finally, Andy, if you were stranded on an island, which three books would you want with you? Atlas Shrugged (because of the message and because it would take being marooned to get me the time to reread it), and True Grit (better with each rereading). My third book would be some sort of survival guide so I wouldn’t be hungry while reading the other two.

Thanks Andy for a wonderful interview.

Participants in the Midwest Gathering of Artists Show in Carthage, Missouri. It’s amazing how Thomas developed the character of each participant.

Andy Thomas

George Washington Carver

by John Pototschnik 5/8/24

I began writing this weekly blog on 30 October 2010, and selected George Washington Carver as the subject of that first article. It still remains one of my favorites. I have decided to recycle some of my older posts that offer especially meaningful content. This story about a man of great humility should be an inspiration to all of us. Yes, it is sort of an unusual choice. Why is an artist attracted to an agricultural chemist?

As you read on, you’ll learn why…

His many discoveries led to international fame. He became a confidant and adviser to leaders and scientists from all over the world. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, President Franklin Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, even Mahatma Gandhi sought his talents.

As incredible as all his achievements and fame are, that is not what I find most appealing about him. Although well trained in his chosen profession, it’s his humility of character and the way in which he approached his creative work that I find extremely attractive.

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong, because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”

As most creative people will admit, they create best when alone. Dr. Carver was like that. He entered his laboratory alone and would lock the door behind him. He once said, “Only alone can I draw close enough to God to discover His secrets”. He believed God would show him what questions to ask and how to conduct each experiment. He reasoned that the One whom created the plants was also the same One who had all the answers as to their use.

Creativity, the ability to create, is a gift to us from God. It didn’t just light upon us through some impersonal cosmic happenstance. With the gift comes responsibility. George Washington Carver understood this and we, as artists, can learn from his attitude as it applies toward our life’s work. He was a man of unusual creativity and humility and possessed an attitude worthy of emulation.

(Information source: America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations)

George Washington Carver was born in Neosho, MO. in October 1864. He became an agricultural chemist of international fame who revolutionized the economy of the south by introducing hundreds of uses for the peanut, soybean, pecan and sweet potato as a replacement for cotton. These crops not only replenished the soil, but continue to contribute greatly to the southern economy.

Born in Missouri, educated in Kansas and Iowa, he was not only a chemist but also an accomplished artist, having won an honorable mention for one of his paintings at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

In 1921, Carver accepted an invitation to address the United States Senate Ways and Means Committee concerning the potential uses of the peanut and other new crops to improve the economy of the south. Asked by the Chairman of the Committee how he learned all these things, Carver answered, “From an old book.” “What book?” asked the Senator. “The Bible”, replied Dr. Carver. “Does the Bible tell about peanuts?” inquired the Senator. “No Sir”, Carver replied, “But it tells about the God who made the peanut. I asked Him to show me what to do with the peanut, and He did.”

As a Christian and an artist, I am drawn to Dr. Carver’s love for God and his absolute trust in Him to guide his work. He once said, “My work, my life, must be in the spirit of a little child seeking only to know the truth and follow it. My purpose alone must be God’s purpose – to increase the welfare and happiness of His people…”

Tim Breaux interview

by John Pototschnik April 26, 2024

Posted onMarch 8, 2020

October 26, 2010…”Hello John, I am a pharmacist and artist from Rogersville, MO. I started painting about seven years ago. I have had very little formal instruction. I normally wake up every morning with both motivation and inspiration for painting. I learned very early on that both come from God…”

“A word about my style. I am a fan of the Hudson River School, especially George Inness. I am a fan of the French Barbizon school also. There are hints of Tonalism and Luminism in my fiber also. More importantly, I realize that what talent I have comes from God. Whatever happens with my style, talent, or development comes from Him…”

“I have considered taking up some formal instruction at the local university. I have gone to several museums to observe the masters. I have read magazines on the subject, and more importantly, I have been searching for a mentor. I have friends that paint and can fill that role to some extent but their style is not my own. I need a little direction.

“Enter, John Pototschnik: While searching the internet for a local Barbizon artist or school with keywords such as “Inness, Barbizon, Tonalism, Springfield” your name popped up. You are the first professional artist I have found that so closely mirrors my own style, both technically and spiritually. Have you ever considered taking on a low maintenance student to mentor?”

…and that’s how a three-year mentoring relationship with Tim Breaux began. I am so proud of Tim, the quality person he is, his work ethic, and the artist he has become and will yet be.

I hope you’ll enjoy this interview. (Click images to enlarge)

“Finley Pear” – 10″ x 8″ – Oil

Your growth has been quite rapid, actually amazing; to what do you attribute that? I have spent countless hours trying to understand this process of communicating through art. I have been dedicated, but there is more to the story. After reading and working on my own for a few years I pondered going back to school to obtain an MFA. After speaking with art students, I realized that they were not receiving the education that I wanted and certainly not receiving it fast enough. I decided to try to find a professional artist to mentor me. I started searching the internet for artists that I would want to study under. I eventually found the guy and boldly approached him by email. John, you probably still have that email somewhere. Stepping out of my comfort zone and approaching you was the single best decision I have made in my art career, by far.

“Cheops Pyramid” – 29″ x 40″ – Oil (Best of Show, American Art Collector Award of Excellence – 2018 National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society Best of America Show)

“Indian Beach Oregon” – 20″ x 20″ – Oil

If you could spend a day with any three artists, past or present, whom would they be and why? Ha! John, you know you are at the top of the list. We have known each other for years but have never met in person. I look forward to this summer when we can finally spend some time together. Albert Bierstadt – I would love to hear about his expedition through the west in the 1850’s. I would also like to review his process of scaling up his expedition drawings to make those epic compositions. He must have had a photographic memory. George Inness – I really need to ask him so many questions.

"Companions" 36 x 48 inches - Oil

How do you go about selecting a subject to paint? On my best day I ask myself why I want to paint the subject. If there is more than one reason I must do some soul searching. In that case, cropping and simplifying to get one “reason” to paint is often the answer; this clarifies my message which is very important. If I don’t have a clear reason to paint a scene my message will be conflicted, and the viewer will pick up on that. If a piece crashes and burns it is usually because I don’t have a good single reason to paint the subject; I have lost my concept or never had one. For studio pieces I will often review resource photos in the thumbnail format to look for simple patterns of light and dark. I use large images to narrow down the list to four or five options and then convert them to thumbnail to help pick a winner. If it reads well in thumbnail it usually will read well from across the room.

Do you have a concept in mind before beginning a painting? Strong concepts create an emotional reaction in me. That is where my excitement originates. The whole point is to communicate that idea in a way that connects with the viewer so they can have an emotional reaction as well. If I don’t have a strong concept then my chances of success are slim. Concept is King, so yes, ideally, I have a concept in mind.

When you’re struggling with a painting, what do you do? First, I give myself permission to fail. If I reach the fail point I usually wipe or scrape the painting back to canvas. Sometimes that gives me new perspective. When the big ones fail it can be depressing and hard to recover. I don’t leave the big failures around too long. I either paint over them or cull them from the herd. Goodbye failure… hello opportunity.

For those struggling with drawing, values and color, what are your suggestions for them? I feel your pain! General suggestions: 1- Paint small and paint often. 2- Become a student and apply yourself. 3- Find one good mentor and learn everything you can from them. I am not a huge fan of workshops because every teacher has a different method of achieving the result. We can’t learn every method. Find one teacher that will give you the fundamentals and then develop your own method.

Specific suggestions: 1- Drawing – Most people can learn to draw if they apply themselves. It all boils down to practice. There are tutorials on the internet and books to study. 2- Value – This is the hard part. Learning to separate value from hue is like learning a second language. There are defects in our perception that lead to making the wrong choices in value selection. Gain an understanding of those defects so you can overcome them. 3- Color – We all learn color according to the hue component. An apple is red, for example. But color is actually the hue in the context of a certain value. For those struggling to paint color correctly spend time mixing colors to a certain value target and then check your work.

Where does your love for art come from and what triggered your desire to pursue it? Some of my earliest memories are centered around family life on a Louisiana sugar cane plantation: bayous, French dialect, Acadian architecture, massive moss draped trees with white washed trunks, crawfish boils, and the sweet smell of cane harvest in the fall from the sugar mill down the road. Somehow, I was born with a romantic appreciation of that world and its history. I was the kid that pondered the beauty a little longer than the rest. I was born with a sense of awe that can only be explained as a love for the visual world. After college I often visited the Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport, La. It was there that the seed was sown to pursue art, even though it would be another fifteen years before I would pick up a brush. Viewing the works of some of the earliest landscape painters, as well as the Hudson River School works in their collection, connected me to their experience. I identified with the romantic view they communicated in the paintings. I still do.

When did you become a pharmacist and why did you choose that profession? Even though my parents didn’t go to college there was an expectation from them that I would go, so that was ingrained in me. We lived in a college town and that was the only school I considered. About a year into college I spoke with a counselor and asked which major paid the best after graduation. She said pharmacy, so I became a pharmacist.

How do you juggle your paying job with the time needed to pursue painting? I was fortunate to have an accommodating schedule for many years that allowed me to work full time in pharmacy and pursue art full time. I actually recently retired from pharmacy so that I can focus on painting. I still work a couple days a month to keep my license active.

“Having a Ball” – 14″ x 11″ – Oil

“Little Green Soldiers” – 8″ x 10″ – Oil

What do you consider to be the role of an artist? I believe different artists have different roles. I can only speak for myself. My story of starting so late in life, the success I have had, the people that have helped me, can only be explained by divine intervention. I am always aware that the sense of awe I experience comes from God as Creator of the natural world. My role is to honor the Creator and acknowledge that He is the only teacher that can give us all we need, the material, inspiration and ability. I also want to help others find their way to the same realization.

"The Heron" 30 x 48 inches - Oil

"Here Today" 18 x 24 inches - Oil

You can see more of Tim's work at:


by Tim Breaux 4/3/2024

Art movements usually arise from groups of like-minded artists, embracing particular styles within specific time frames. However, the term "movement" doesn't solely denote a collective style but also implies a shift from one artistic approach to another.

During the French Barbizon movement (1830s-1870s) a realist tradition of outdoor painting and studio work developed in which artists emphasized direct observation and “truth” to their subject. This departure from the more idealized paintings of the time allowed artists the opportunity to paint honest scenes of nature that depicted landscapes and peasantry in a more natural form. As the Barbizon movement gave way to the impressionist movement in Europe during the 1870s, a new variation on their style emerged across the Atlantic. The American Tonalists, while retaining several Barbizon principles, shifted their focus towards exploring the emotional potential within paintings, leading to the prevalence of softer and quieter aesthetics.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)- “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (Whistler’s Mother)” 57 x 64 inches- Oil (1871)

Spirituality was a key factor in George Inness’ transition to Tonalism. His growing interest in the writings by Emanuel Swedenborg and transcendentalism instilled in him the philosophy that the divine can be found in nature. George Inness’ transition to Tonalism was a departure from the style and less intimate subject matter of his contemporaries in the Hudson River School. The nuanced difference between the two was that transcendentalism suggested that nature was imbued with the divine while the prevailing sentiment was that nature was a creation of the divine.

George Inness (1825-1894)- "Sunrise" - 30 x 45.25 inches (1887)

George Inness (1825-1894)- “Summer in Montclair”- 38 x 28.5 inches- Oil (1884)

For more information about American Tonalism please see:

The American Tonalist Society

Tim Breaux (1963-) - "The Heron”- 30 x 48 inches - Oil (2023)

This image to be replaced

Frederic Remington (1861-1909)- "The Stampede by Lightning" - 26 x 39 inches - Oil (1908)

Tonalism exists in two main forms today. There are pure adherents to the movement that commit to the style and paint in that tradition often. The remaining artists employ it as a useful tool of communication when the need arises to “whisper to the soul” in a painting.

The Tonalists were blurring the lines, both figuratively and literally, between art movements. They began to employ their method of painting to communicate the mood and emotion of the subject. The atmospheric effects and poetic shapes rendered with subtle values shifts were less realistic than their Barbizon counterparts across the ocean. Their general aesthetic became more abstract to allow the viewer to ponder the greater meaning, or even spirituality of the subject, an early step towards modernism.

John Francis Murphy (1853-1921)- “Spring Mist" - 14 x 9 inches- Oil (1905)

“Key to understanding his later and most characteristic works, such as Summer in Montclair (1884), is that while Inness is concerned with conveying emotion (one of his primary aims), he is also attempting to image spiritual truth. For Inness, the world was a projection of Spirit.” - from “George Inness”

Around the turn of the 20th century, Frederic Remington merged a Tonalist palette and mindset with his American Western subjects. The shift to tonal nocturnes played a pivotal role in his transition from being recognized solely as an illustrator to gaining acceptance as a fine artist.

Frederic Remington (1861-1909)- “The Sentinel" - 27 x 36 inches- Oil (1907)

Frederic Remington (1861-1909)- “The Sentinel" - 27 x 36 inches- Oil (1907)

Brent Cotton (1972-)- “Autumn Stroll” - 15.5 x 23 inches- Oil (2017)

The Naturalist

by John Pototschnik 4/1/2024

The Naturalism movement swept through Europe and lasted for only a brief 20 years. It began in France in the late 1870's and by the early 1890's was already in decline. The godfather of the movement was the brilliant Jules Bastien-Lapage, who died at the young age of only 36, and yet he fathered a very amazing group of devotees throughout Europe.

At the same time, another group of young artists dubbed, Impressionists, were also on the move. They had grown restless and tired of what they considered to be the same-old worn out traditions of the French Academy. Feeling that the Academy works had become too “predictable”, a tension was created between the old academic way and a new way.

Adding fuel to the growing tension was a rising middle class anxious to purchase art they could relate to. They sought images that represented their daily lives. As scientific discoveries increased, writers and critics began calling for the "Modern"...for change...for an art that reflected the times. At first the Impressionists were ridiculed, but in time art critics, journalists, even collectors began to shift their support to those expressing discontent with the academic tradition.

Out of this unsettled state, and wanting to tap into that burgeoning source of collectors, two very different responses arose... Naturalism and Impressionism. Today we hear little or nothing of Naturalism while Impressionism and plein air painting is the rage.

With the writers and critics coming down on the side of the Impressionists, the negativity directed toward the Naturalists was intense. As recorded in Gabriel Weisberg’s book, Beyond Impressionism, the Naturalist Impulse, the Naturalists were criticized as being out-of-step with new directions, regressive, obstacles to innovations, devoid of imagination, and lacking courage and initiative. However, the major criticism was that their work was too literal and "boring as a photograph". Photography was criticized as being "the bane of creative imagination, killer of invention."

The Naturalists were only taking advantage of the technological advancements being made in photography. They may be considered the first photo realists. Using photos, combined with drawings, oil sketches, and finished oil studies of their subjects done from life, they were able to construct very detailed, highly refined, sometimes life-size paintings from this material…a new type of painting never before seen was the result.

These artists were academically trained. They possessed a mastery of drawing, human anatomy, and composition. Photography became a source of note taking and enabled them to achieve a level of detail and refinement that stunned the art world. The Impressionists on the other hand, (especially the "isms" that followed them) eschewed the academic training that produced some of the greatest works of art in human history.

The Naturalist’s goal was to capture a “slice of life” through images that were linked to country or urban life. They selected themes of daily life often featuring working people, depicted in a non-sentimental way…warts and all. Because of their stated goals, landscape was only viewed as a stage for the depiction of the human figure. They sought to achieve "nature in landscape, character in portraiture, and humanity in genre painting".

To achieve this phenomenal realism, many of the artists built outdoor glass studios (much like a greenhouse) in which they posed their models and produced detailed studies of them in a controlled rustic setting. The criticism of their work did not let up and eventually led to their demise. It was just too factual, too scientific…too photographic. As a result of all this criticism, some of the painters began to disguise their working methods, wanting to leave the impression that their work was in fact created without photographic aids.

Well, the move toward more and more “modern” won out. Sound training eventually became a hindrance if one wanted to be free to express themselves. This led to almost a century of various “isms”, many of them of little worth.

Today, things are changing. Many ateliers are springing up that are returning to the academic training of the French Academies. Young students are hungry to learn the long established methods of the masters. Realism is finally on the upswing. The young generation coming up is already producing some incredible work.

Jules Bastien Lepage – “Pauvre Fauvette” – 64″x 49.5″ – Oil (1881)

Emile Claus – “A Meeting on the Bridge” – 28.35″x 44.5″ – Oil

Emile Friant – “Les Amoureux” – 43.7″x 57″ – Oil

Victor Gilbert – “La Moisson” – 18.11″x 21.85″ – Oil

Jean Buland – “Scene de Propagande” – 71″x 74.75″ – Oil (1889)

Leon Augustin L’hermitte – “Paying the Harvestors” – 84.75″x 107″ – Oil (1892)

Peder Severin Kroyer – “Pescadores en la Playa” – Oil (1883)

Source for article: Beyond Impressionism, the Naturalist Impulse, Gabriel Weisberg – Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1992;

Photos: Art Renewal Center


by John Pototschnik 3/6/2024

Everything we see with our eyes, hear, touch, taste, and smell were first formed in one’s imagination. Imagination is unique to humanity and is a gift from our Creator.

Vision can be defined as, “a thought, concept or object formed by the imagination.” Not all imaginings are worth pursuing, but those that are serve as a guide, providing a sense of purpose, even direction.

We at American Heritage Art Gallery seek to reintroduce collectors to the vision of the great American experiment, a project that still holds promise. Through our paintings, and those that have come before, we uphold a traditionalist vision for America, honoring and showcasing artworks that pay homage to the country's rich cultural and artistic heritage.

As artists, we share a vision of America that ennobles, inspires, and reminds us of the values, history, traditions, and beauty of our great country, a country that became the envy of the world. Through our paintings and informative articles, we desire to provide excellence in all we do…even to the preservation and promotion of classical painting techniques and narratives. The gallery fosters an appreciation for time-honored craftsmanship, connecting past and present.

We invite you to come join us; let’s share the vision together.

"Optometrist" by Norman Rockwell

Western Art can’t be discussed without referencing Charles Marion Russell also known as Charlie Russell.

Born in Missouri in 1864, as a young child he was intrigued by the Old West. He engulfed himself in reading fascinating stories and probably had dreams about going out west. He also had natural drawing and sculpting abilities. We could say that Charlie Russell may have been a storyteller at a very young age with his art and Old West interests.

In 1880, the fascination of the West took him to Montana. As a teenager, he worked on a sheep ranch for a short time. He then spent a few years on the South Fork of the Judith River learning and living in the wilderness with Jake Hoover, a hunter and trader. For the next 11 years, he worked as a night herder in the Billings area which gave him the daytime to observe the west that he so admired. Working, watching, sketching, and documenting the everyday life of the working cowboy would be the experience that enabled him to create sketches and paintings that depicted their life. The life that he admired.

Charlie met and married Nancy Cooper in 1896. They moved to Great Falls in 1897 and lived in a modest home with his studio built of logs nearby. Nancy became both his wife and business manager. She exposed his artwork to people from other areas by going to art shows throughout the United States. Many people liked his art which led to him being nationally known for his Western art.

Today, the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana is dedicated to preserving his legacy as the original cowboy artist. Since the museum's roots in 1953, it has collected over 2,000 Russell artworks, artifacts, and personal objects. His log studio is also preserved on the museum grounds. Charlie’s legacy will continue and his artwork will be studied by artists and collectors for many generations to come.

Charlie Russell

by Andy Thomas 3/4/24

I first heard the term “Naturalism” in 1987 when Southwest Art did an article about my work. There was an association made between my work and what was called naturalism. I really liked the term and thought it affectively defined my work. I continue to use the term when defining my painting. My explanation has always gone something like this:

“I want my work to feel very natural, with minimal embellishment of the scene, depicting it as it is…paintings that feel very natural and real.” To achieve this affect, I use color studies done on location, photography and imagination. My most creative work incorporates all three, resulting in a painting quite different from all the reference material.

Emile Friant – “Wrestling” – 71″x 44.87″ – Oil (1889)

I have since come to realize that what I do is not really “Naturalism”. In reality the movement has its similarities to what I do, but it also has notable differences, one of them being a degree of finish that I have yet to attain. But, hey, I still like the designation. I’ll just use it with a small ‘n’ as in naturalism.

Detail: “October: Gathering Potatoes”

Jules Bastien Lepage – “October: Gathering Potatoes” – 71″x 77″ – Oil (1879)

One of my absolute favorite art books is called, “Beyond Impressionism, The Naturalist Impulse”, by Gabriel Weisberg. In fact, I liked the book so much I later went back and purchased a second one, just in case the first one wore out.

Naturalism was short-lived. Beginning in the late 1870's, it was pretty much over twenty years later. It began in France, “Duh”, and rapidly spread throughout Europe. Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884) was the undisputed leader of the new movement. When Lepage died at the early age of only 36, his dear friend, Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (1852-1929), carried on the tradition.

Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan Bouveret – “Breton Women at a Pardon” – 49″x 55″ – Oil (1887)

Jules-Alexis Muenier – “Tramps” – 57.75″x 56.25″ – Oil (1896)

Due to a rising middle class in France, writers and critics were calling for a less idealized view of life…a modern, more scientific, factual reality. The Impressionists responded one way while another group of young academically trained artists responded in their way. This group became known as the Naturalists…setting the stage for conflict.

Next time: The Naturalists: Their techniques and their eventual demise.


by John Pototschnik 2/24/2024