Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don Weller Part 2

Gerald Young's Gather, Rest Area- Watercolor, 20" x 16"
By Don Weller

Don Weller always wanted to paint cowboys and horses, and be a cowboy. He spent plenty of time growing up roping cows in the rodeo, but by college, he had figured out that you either inherited your Dad's ranch or you did something else. Don's father was an architect, so the whole cowboy-by-inheritance scenario was pretty much shot. Don sold his horses and trailer, gave away his saddle and moved to Los Angeles with the aforementioned portfolio full of Abstract Expressionist paintings.

Three Cows- Watercolor, 20" x 16" by Don Weller

Don worked the dual careers of graphic design and illustration for years before helping launch The Design Conference That Just Happens To Be In Park City. TDCTJHTBIPC was always known for it's mix of quality guests and skiing fun. I was privileged to attend in 1994, when C.F. Payne, Braldt Bralds, Rafal Oblinski and Jack Unruh were all guest illustrators.

Deseret Crew- Watercolor 20" x 14" by Don Weller

This annual pilgrimage to the mountains, the skiing and the wide open spaces lured Don and Cha Cha to contemplate a move. The concrete jungle of Los Angeles soon gave way to alpine views as Don and Cha Cha relocated to Park City and the prospect of returning to the saddle.

Basically Alone- Watercolor, 26" x 15.5" by Don Weller

Since summertime offered no skiing Don soon sniffed out the local horse culture and was introduced to the art of cutting horses. It would not be long before Don was riding these horses himself and competing alongside the best cutting horse riders in the West and winning a few cuts himself.

Parking Lot Near Onion Creek - Watercolor,  20" x 22" by Don Weller

Summers now find a small herd of cattle grazing in the pastures that surround the three building estate that he and Cha Cha built on his Oakley ranch. Don designed the house, the garage with studio attic, and the horse barn. The five stall barn is where Don keeps his teammates.

Dancing Cheek to Cheek- Watercolor, 17" x 20" by Don Weller

Don trains with them in their very own cutting ring where he frequently invites friends to join in the action. Cutting horse riders depend on complete cooperation from their equine partner as the subtlest of hints direct their actions. Then there is the moment when the horse takes over and separates the cow on it's own. This symbiotic relationship between horse and rider mirrors the relationship Weller feels between his riding and his art. One feeds the other and each provides a necessary component to the whole, and if all goes right, at some point the art takes on a life of it's own.

Rope Tricks Too- Watercolor, 18" x 16" by Don Weller

"A good painting does not aspire to be a photograph. A painting is a composition with things included and eliminated to enhance an idea. The elements are staged to set the scene and move the eye. And for me a good painting allows the viewer into the process. Brush strokes show" says Weller.

Careful! - Watercolor 14" x 17" by Don Weller

"I have found some tricks that help me improve the odds of success, but the most important thing for me is to spend more time planning and less time painting"  Don says. "First there is the idea. Then I try to have a pretty solid image in mind before I start, and a solid drawing before I paint. Washes are thought out carefully. Spontaneous looking strokes are practiced on another sheet before being put down on the painting."

Trio- Watercolor, 8.5" x 9" by Don Weller

Looking at Don's current work it is obvious that the years of training in design and the countless illustrations created are the foundation for his success. I am blown away by his immaculate sense of composition, the balance, the color and above all the compelling nature of the way he draws his subjects. It is not an ability to be developed overnight, or even over a decade. The reverence he lends to his craft is obvious. "The painters I respect treat painting like it was the most important job on earth. For us it is."

Down to the Colorado- Watercolor, 19" x 14" by Don Weller

In the forward to his book "Watercolor Cowboys" Don says "I have been searching my earliest memories and although I can't find a time I ever believed in Santa Claus, I'm sure I've always believed in cowboys."

I believe in cowboys too.

Like this post? Please comment, it helps me plan future posts

Don Weller Website
Part one of this interview with Don Weller


artistaggie said...

Wow... such gorgeous works! :-D

Unknown said...

these are incredible! Water color never looked so good

Don Hudson said...

Really powerful work!

Walter W Lee said...

Thanks for posting these Greg.

Traci O'Very Covey said...

What a pleasant surprise to stumble across your blog and see the wonderful work you are doing--then see this nice article about old friend Don Weller. His work is so beautiful! Thanks for posting.

Unknown said...

Fantastic! Thanks for the Part Two!

Dad's western watercolors simply blow me away. You can see his entire career as an illustrator and graphic designer in each and every painting. These works astonish me in the marriage of technical detail and color usage. So inspiring!

Unknown said...

You are so welcome. What a treat for me to do this overview of Don's work. I totally agree that the sense of color and design in these paintings is simply breathtaking.

Unknown said...

Three years late but just came across this wonderful article about Don. He and Cha Cha took me under their wing as a young designer in 1985 at their L.A.studio. Great to see his new work and his sense of humor coming through in the article. Thanks Greg!

Unknown said...

Good to know people are still finding this article three years on. Thanks for looking!