Monday, October 9, 2017

Painting the West

By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, I shared about "Pingree's Potato Patches." If you missed that post, you can read it here:

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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.

I have started working 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 merely reading them and doing research wasn't enough.

Westerns as a setting are quite common in fiction, and especially the inspirational market. So many are full of the hero or heroine who was born in the east and headed west for one reason or another. I didn't want the first book in my series to be nothing but a recycled story that's much of the same, 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, though, and she actually receives multiple rejections from gallery owners because she's a woman, which is why she heads west. The teaching provides her the income that leaves her free to sketch and paint. Her distance also allows her to send her paintings back east in the hopes of having her art displayed in galleries under a pseudonym, leaving gallery owners and patrons to believe she's a man.

To depict my heroine 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.

That's my goal for my heroine in this new series. I want her art to be so recognizable by the gallery owners and art lovers back east, that just one look identifies the piece as hers. That means she'll need something unique she does in each one of her pieces. Maybe YOU can help. What do you think she should do as her artist "stamp" so to speak that identifies each piece as done by her without a doubt?


* Do you know of any artists who are known for painting the west?

* Do you have a favorite artist that you collect or perhaps certain types of art?

* What do you think it is that appeals to most people or catches their eye about western art? Characteristics, qualities, elements, etc.?

* What is 1 fascinating fact about today's post which caught your eye today?


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an author and speaker who works in the anti-aging, health & wellness, and personal development industry, helping others become their best from the inside out.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, and a Retriever mix named Roxie. She has sold twenty (21) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and LinkedIn.


  1. Let's see, something unique to your artist....a brand on an animal, a certain kind of tree or flower, or else one "mistake" that is always there as a kind of signature. Maybe it happened once and she missed it and couldn't fix it so she made it her trademark?
    I don't really study art as you have, and I like all kinds of pictures but don't really buy art. My collection would be too eclectic for my perfectionistic personality to tolerate, I think. LOL!

  2. My uncle was a cowboy in Montana and he introduced me to Charles Russell. Last year I learned about Julian Onderdonk's paintings of Texas bluebells (spectacular) and Edgar Payne, part of a California School of plein air painters. And then there is Robert Henri, who isn't known for painting the west but who lived in Cozad, Nebraska, home of the Henri Museum. Thanks for this look into more western artists!