…with pastels and easels, a guitar, a Bible and a gun in a wagon decorated with deer horns and snake skins.
Pastels & easels
After the frontier soldiers in the 1870s chased the Comanches from their strongholds in the Texas Canyonlands, cowboys and cattlemen moved their Longhorn herds west, replacing the Indians and the Buffalo herds, much as depicted by Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove.
Trailing these cattlemen and their Longhorns, artists made their way to the frontier of West Texas. Frank Reaugh, who studied at the St. Louis Art Institute and the Academic Julian in Paris, came first up the Brazos in 1883. Through French and Dutch-influenced Impressionism, Reaugh's pastels captured the luminance of the light and the subtle grandeur of this epic landscape.
Using annual trips up the Brazos as a workshop, Reaugh took with him other painters including L.O. Griffith in the early 1900s. Reaugh and Griffith traveled up the Brazos for several weeks, likely in 1901, “with pastels and easels, a guitar, a Bible and a gun in a wagon decorated with deer horns and snake skins.”
L.O. Griffith enjoyed a long, successful career as an Impressionist painter in New Orleans and Indiana. His works in oils and prints featured on this site, recently “rediscovered,” further define the majesty of this landscape and its wide open spaces.
No other medium can so truthfully give the freshness and bloom of childhood complexion, or the feeling of air in landscape.… Pastels are particularly suited to outdoor sketching. One advantage is readiness. The palette is set. The colors are mixed.… All this makes for speed: the essential in landscape sketching, where effects are fleeting.… Nature's beauty of design is matchless. Man's invention compares with it much as his feats of engineering compare with the motion of the stars.
© Jim Watson