Marketing Art

Anguished Spirit/Trail of Tears
Anguished Spirit/Trail of Tears:Richard D. Burton (Watercolor/ 300# Archers

The internet is full of someone writing an e-book for you to download that promises the magic of marketing your art.  Much of it is good, but most are one variation or another of the same seven to ten points of what to do.

Congratulation to all artists that stay in the game and are involved with it with regularity. This means that you are in the field DOING IT. It probably means you’re thick-skinned, and can take rejection without it destroying you. Succeeding at anything takes not only talent, hard work, and perseverance, but mental strength, as well. This comes from knowing you are great at what you do, and never doubting it no matter what anyone thinks. You recognize if ever you have a doubt, or a mental stumble, you can get it all back with a simple thought by asking yourself:

“How bad do I want it?”

Although, Vincent Van Gogh may or may not have sold a painting in his lifetime, it didn’t seem to keep him from continuing on with his work. This was especially true in the last year of his life when he became extremely prolific by painting (some say) 200 separate paintings. But I can imagine him saying, almost screaming each time he slapped paint on canvas, “How bad do I want it?  To bad he didn’t hang around long enough to find that he really was the artist that he thought he was. Perhaps, his original intention when chopping off his ear was to get attention, not to go down that dark tunnel of which no one has yet to return.  Yet here we are one hundred and twenty-six years later talking and writing about it.

Remember, whatever it is that people say about you, good or bad, you are successful if they are just talking about you.

Anguished Spirit/Trail of Tears
Anguished Spirit/Trail of Tears: Richard D. Burton/Graphite on Paper

I certainly hope that none of us cut off an ear, or ready to take such dire measures to succeed. However, it is important that we keep our passions high, never doubting our talent, never being afraid to take chances.

I remember it was back in the early seventies (may have been late sixties) in Houston, Texas, that I read an article about an artist that was suddenly the rage in town. It was the artist, Jim Rabby, who was painting colorful pallet knife oil abstracts. I went to visit his studio, and all I saw was a very colorful owl that he painted. The paint was so thick, and worked over with a pallet knife, that it looked almost like a bass relief. Although it was very colorful, it didn’t “grasp” me. Why? Because I was unable to comprehend his type of art at the time.  In other words, I would not have been able to create his composition as an artist, because I was unable to think like he did.

However, he could do it, and he did do it.  Yes, he did it, and not only did it, but did it in a big way. He marketed his work with zeal, and he did so in a big way; and his work sold, and his work sold in a big way. You can check the web, he’s been very successful with his style of art. In other words, he didn’t believe you had to die so that a hundred years later you might be somebody. He decided to be somebody while alive.  I congratulate him. This was more than forty-five years ago, and he was kind enough to talk to me in the studio the day I visited, and I recognized in him a vivacity and self confidence I had not seen in many artists. He believed in his talent and himself.  He knew he was doing something people liked.  Mostly, they were willing to spend good money to have what he was offering them.

My suggestion for marketing your art (remember, I simplify all things):

  1. Do good work
  2. Believe in yourself
  3. Promote  your art and yourself with ZEAL
  4. Do all of the above non-stop, and never ceasing

Be sure to check out the galleries above, and if you haven’t already, join our newsletter (Take a chance to win our beautiful art book).


Posted in art, Art Marketing, Artist, Believe, Jim Rabby, Vincent Van Gogh | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trail of Tears Saga: Anguished Spirit

Making a full scale drawing.

So, I awakened a few months ago, and was dreaming of a most unusual event in history. It really happened, and was known as the “great removal”. A scourge in the annals of American history.  It was also known as “the trail of tears.” This was when President Andrew Jackson ordered the Cherokee Indians to be removed from their homes and sent to the western territories.


If you’ve been following this blog, you may be familiar with the story, but if not I’ll remind all of the situation as it happened.

I dreamed of the Indians under great stress and anguish walking the more than a thousand miles through rough terrain and agonizing weather as their relatives died and were buried off the side of the trail to the tune of more than four thousand burials.  I also dreamed of an anguished, disheartened spirit in the sky watching over the reluctant travelers.

As I awakened, I knew I must do something tho the incident happened approximately 176 years ago. I felt that I had to paint a picture of what I dreamed, or envisioned. There are others that have painted the incident, but I have not let their paintings influence me. I am hung up on my originality. My compositions are mine, and mine alone; and, as far as I know, they don’t have the spirit in the sky. I did a lot of historic research, mostly trying to get the clothing and head dress correct.

I also did sample paintings for practice while concerning myself with how to portray the anguished spirit.

Cut outs of different figures for graphite composition
Cut outs of different figures for graphite composition
"The Removal - Trail of Tears"
“The Removal – Trail of Tears” (19″wX15″h)
Transparent Watercolor

My concern was whether to paint the spirit as I did the Indians (in full color), or did I want to paint it in a monochrome style? I decided on the latter, using the color of the sky, which at the time was already painted. All I did to get the depiction was to remove the paint with a wet brush, leaving the lighter color outlining the image.

I realized that with enough imagination, their could be several different compositions taking some of the Indians out of the paintings and rearranging them.

portion of drawing: Anguished Spirit-Trail of Tears
portion of drawing: Anguished Spirit-Trail of Tears
Down WindWait: R.D. Burton
“Down Wind Wait”: Watercolor (Arches :300) – R.D.Burton

Although, I have many different ideas for paintings other than the Original Americans, and must get to it. However, by using the drawings and sketches already worked on, I intend to someday return to these compositions and paint more. Until then, they can patiently wait in a file drawer in my studio.

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Artist, Richard Burton painting in his garage.
Artist, Richard Burton painting in his garage.


Posted in American Indian, art, art information, Composition, Drawing, painting, R. D. Burton, Richard D. Burton, Trail of Tears, watercolor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Abstract Art – What is it?

Artist, Richard Burton painting in his garage.
Artist, Richard Burton painting in his garage.

The world of art went through fundamental changes in terms of style toward the end of the nineteenth century. Trying to mirror reality or capturing a moment in time was no longer the purpose of art. The brush strokes, marks, and colors made by an artist gave validity to the world as they interpreted it. In other words, their creation became an end within itself.

Recently I was asked, what is an abstract painting? I didn’t exactly know how to define the answer, so I think I mumbled something like…”If you don’t know what it is, but you sort of like or hate it, it’s abstract.” Personally, I’ve enjoyed and liked some abstract art most of my life. One of my favorite abstract artists is Wassily Kandinsky, who often has been given credit for being one of the first abstract artists, if not the father of abstract art.

Wassily Kandinsky: "Composition Vll" (1913)
Wassily Kandinsky: “Composition Vll” (1913)

Kandinsky explained his interpretation of his work when asked about his paintings: “Color is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano, with its many strings. The artist is the hand that purposefully sets the soul vibrating by means of this or that key.”

Okay, so Kandinsky had a more perfect explanation of what abstract art is than I did, but for some, however, I believe that I nailed it. I’ll try to remember Kandinsky’s lines so the next time I’m asked, I’ll sound more fluid.

The trip toward abstraction began in earnest in the early years of the twentieth century, as artist began to colorfully depict the world around them. Matisse and Fauves used colors for emotional or decorative effects, rather than a means to make objects appear realistic. Pablo Picasso depicted form and space with ground breaking change.

Picasso - Cubism
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon: Pablo Picasso, 1907, Cubism

In his Cubist painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Picasso’s influence came from primitive art. The three women on the left of the work were painted at the start of 1907 when he was inspired by ancient Iberian carving from pre-Roman times. the other two figures were painted when his interest had shifted toward African art.

Along the journey towards abstraction their were many new artists that became the rage. Franz Kline developed a distinctive style of painting after seeing his brushwork magnified through a projector.

Painting Number 2: Franz Kline
Painting Number2 : Franz Kline, 1954



You can see copies of many of Kline’s works in offices even to this day. This particular one is at the Museum of Modern Art, so I do not have to tell you it is valued at a fortune.

Talking about fortunes and then some, if you accidentally stumble across the “dribbler’s”work(Jackson Pollock), it’s like winning the lottery (100 mil or better).220px-Namuth_-_PollockPollock placed his canvases on the ground and rapidly started pouring, dripping, splashing, and manipulating the paint with a variety of implements.

Jackson Pollock: "Blue Poles"
Jackson Pollock: “Blue Poles”

Recently, I was asked to do an abstract painting by my nephew and his soon wife to be. I felt it would be a good decision to do as a wedding present, so I decided to tackle the job. Those of you that know me, know I’m more of a realist painter, so when I decide to do the work, I did so with a certain sense of concern. I really was entering a knew world. I did not wish to imitate any other artist’s, so I didn’t even open an art book (which I have more than I should) to seek ideas. No, I grabbed some acrylic paints and a small board canvass, turned on a Ludvig Von Beethoven CD (Yes, I listen to music sometimes when painting…jazz, blues, rock-and-roll, rock, and sometimes classical.), and began slapping paint to canvas. However, it wasn’t until Beethoven’s 5th Symphony came on did the brush, colors, and canvas become one. Suddenly, it was right in front of me. The idea I was looking for! Now, all I had to do was get the composition onto a much larger canvas.

I hope you enjoy:

"Composition in the 5th": (Acrylic on canvas - 40"X60") - Artist: Richard D. Burton
“Composition in the 5th”: (Acrylic on canvas – 40″X60″) – Artist: Richard D. Burton



Posted in Abstract Art, art, art information, art museum, Artist, Composition in the 5th, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Matisse, Pablo Picasso, painting, R. D. Burton, Richard Burton, Richard D. Burton, Wassily Kandinsky | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Impressionists Changed the World

Oscar-Claude Monet
Oscar-Claude Monet

The term “Impressionism” comes from the title of Claude Monet’s painting Impression, soleil levant (Interpreted: Impression, Sunrise. The painting was exhibited in 1874, and changed the world for artists. Monet had painted the painting before nature outside of the studio and in the open air. Prior to this, paintings were usually produced in the artists studio. Of course, artists sketched outdoors; however, their sketches were used for references to the highly realistic paintings they did inside.

As usual when a new art movement is introduced, the impressionists were received with a storm of protests. Art connoisseurs, as well as, art lovers and buyers were accustomed to seeing paintings with the tiniest details defined. They felt the impressionists were merely doing color sketches. Roughly 150 years later we are used to allowing our eyes see the details that are not depicted, just as we do in nature. Most good impressionists can give enough details (just as we see nature) to represent what actually exists.

Impression, soliel levant: Claude Monet
Impression, soliel levant: Claude Monet

Many of the artist of today prefer the plein-air method of painting landscape. They love to capture the colors of natural light falling on the various hues of nature. Most will agree that the fresh air they breath as they paint is so refreshing that the exaltation helps create the mood of their paintings.

The practice of open-air painting appeals, mostly, to the artist’s desire for a direct appeal to nature. The impressionists to this day, just as it was in the beginning of the movement, insist that artist should concentrate on capturing the color intensity of the visual world before their eyes.

Technological advances played a large part in the impressionist movement. Prior to the nineteenth century, artists had been obliged to mix their own pigments and oils in small batches that had to be used quickly before they dried up. The availability of zinc paint tubes transformed their working methods. The portability of new, ready made colors were much more affordable and easy to use. The new manufactured pigments enabled artist to capture the intensity of color created by strong sunlight.

Today, literally thousands of artist are impressionists, and many of them paint in the plein-air method (open air technique). Art Center Information’s featured Artist of the Month, Texas artist, Lynn Burton, likes to remind us that although he paints all different genres, he loves to “Get up early in the morning before the sun comes up, and go out to the farms and country, and with brush, paint, and canvas, have a great time.” “Gettin’ loose,” he likes to call it. “Don’t know how many hundreds of times over the last 50 years of painting I’ve done this,” he continues.

One of our favorite plein-air paintings of Lynn’s is below. If you want to search Lynn’s latest paintings, you can go to

Be sure to type his name in the search section.

You can also get to his page by clicking the picture at the bottom.

Also, feel free to browse all the galleries above.

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Lynn Burton: Babbling Brook Bridge - Oil on Canvass
Lynn Burton: Babbling Brook Bridge – Oil on Canvass


Posted in art, art information, Artist, Claude Monet, Impresionistic Style, Impressionist, Lynn Burton, painting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Historic Artists Should do Their Homework

R. D. Burton at Easel
R. D. Burton at Easel

When an artist decides to paint or draw a historic composition, they should do their homework.

I have been working on a series of compositions representing the Cherokee Indians during the period of Jackson’s Removal, or, better known as The Trail of Tears. I find it hard to describe the many times I searched the internet, encyclopedias, and other books to find different clothing, weapons, blankets, and even feathers, and other head gear of the time in history that was depicted. I’ve done a great deal of study, and still I’m sure I haven’t got it totally correct. That’s the problem with historic compositions, you not only have artists critical of composition, color, chroma, lighting, style, etc., but you have your historians.  You can’t win, but it doesn’t matter…just do your homework, and try to do it right.

Trail of Tears: Watercolor/wet-in-wet: Richard D. Burton
Trail of Tears: Watercolor/wet-in-wet: Richard D. Burton

The painting above is only 1/2 the painting I intend to do. The other half is a high sky with an angry spirit floating and folding from the clouds. To see this composition depicted with graphite you can click on one of the sights listed at bottom right side. I’m still going to do a little more study on the clothing that shows more original decorations sewn into the clothing.

research items
Research items used in painting “Down Wind Wait”

Between the graphite drawing and painting “Trail of Tears”, I painted a picture that I named “Down Wind Wait”. Mostly, just to practice. To the left you can see there was not only several picture studies, but I actually did a complete drawing of the picture.

Graphite Drawing for "Down Wind Wait"/along side study pictures
Graphite Drawing for “Down Wind Wait”/along side study pictures

Below you can see I used a picture depicting a jacket of the 1830s and 40s used by the Cherokee Nation.



Again, there is a plethora of information available on the internet from leaves in a breeze to the squirm of a worm. I can find how to do a special type of “wet-in-wet” wash with my watercolors. I can even be the person to talk to the world; such as, in this case, an art blog.

Never before have we had the opportunity as artists to simply go to the internet, select our favorite search engine, and ask it to show us a picture of anything, and it will. Incidentally, I just asked Bing to show me a picture of anything, and it will blow your mind what all it offered me.

I recommend you go to the top of the page and visit all our family art galleries. More of Lynn Burton’s works can be found by copying  the following link, and typing in Lynn Burton on the search: or click on the picture below.

Be sure to enter for our newsletter at upper right.

Down WindWait: R.D. Burton
“Down Wind Wait”: Watercolor (Arches :300) – R.D.Burton
Posted in blog post, Drawing, Historic Artists, Trail of Tears | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lynn Burton Often Uses Acrylic Under Paintings for His Oils

Acrylic Underpainting
Acrylic Under Painting : Unfinished: Lynn Burton

Artist, Lynn Burton, in many cases, will do his work with acrylic under painting. “It’s just something I rely on to work out the many details of my work that often becomes finished oil paintings…you know, whatever it takes to get it right,” he said this morning when Art Center Information had an opportunity to speak to him.

“As far as I’m concerned, this picture is already a finished painting…makes a great acrylic painting the way it is. It gives an almost ghostly, spiritual sense about it with the grays and pale mauves and would fit decoratively in many homes,” his brother and founder of Art Center Information, Richard Burton, said.

Richard D. Burton: segment of "Old Woodie"
Richard D. Burton: segment of “Old Woodie”

I’ve always enjoyed working in acrylics, finishing several works,” Richard continued. He is mostly known for his wet-in-wet watercolor works. The painting to the right is a segment of a 24″X 36″ Acrylic painting he painted a few years back. (The complete painting is in the Burton Family Gallery {above}.

Lynn actually does much of his drawing and details of his compositions in many of his oils with the acrylic under painting, this is why he can get as little or as much detail in his paintings. It helps him work out his values, he gets to experiment with color and chroma if necessary, however, with his many years of experience, much of this he does in the muse of his mind. “Sometimes, you just get into a zone and when you come out of it, it’s all there…a finished work of art…don’t ask me!?” He says.


Acrylic Under Painting: Lynn Burton

Although Lynn paints compositions of many genres, his work recently has been with a Southwest art motif. He is doing this because Southwest Art is appreciated in many states. He was born in New Mexico, and lives in Texas…enough said?

His work can be found above in his gallery, but this is not all his works. He sells his work on the internet as well in galleries. On the internet, it is found at the following link>

Please join our newsletter at the top right of the page. Visit all the galleries at the top. Feel free to make comments at the bottom…no spam please.

Acrylic Under Painting for future oil/ unfinished: Lynn Burton
Acrylic Under Painting for future oil/ unfinished: Lynn Burton
Posted in acrylic, art, art information, Artist, Burton, Lynn Burton, painting, R. D. Burton, Richard Burton | Leave a comment

Original Americans, Indians, and the Trail of Tears – Painting in Progress

R. D. Burton at Easel
R. D. Burton at Easel

The painting I most recently finished began as a practice painting for a portion of a work in progress, Anguished Spirit (Trail of Tears).

Anguished Spirit (Trail of Tears) Graphite on Paper
Anguished Spirit (Trail of Tears) Graphite on Paper

I drew the composition in full size some weeks back, and decided to paint the lower portion of the painting with its own composition. (Below)

"The Removal - Trail of Tears"
“The Removal – Trail of Tears” (19″wX15″h)
Transparent Watercolor

I did a three color wash over the entire painting space (one on top of the other when dried) Red, yellow, and blue pigment was applied over each. The red and yellow  top down, and the blue with painting turned upside down and washed from bottom to top. By lifting colors, I created the sky, mountains , and foreground, creating a cold and dank day for marching through the snow covered trail.

I’m considering changing the dimension of the full size composition from 13.5″X24″ (which is the size of the graphite drawing above) to 27″X48″. In other words doubling the composition. I decided to do this when creating the painting. I’d like to have a little more wiggle room when trying to paint the many characters in the work.

I like the effect created by lifting the paint for the scenery. It wasn’t easy to do, and was somewhat anguishing, troubling, stressing, and more, but perhaps, that’s why we paint. To do the anguishing spirit and create the effect of an almost ghostly other being, I’m quite positive paint removal is the way to go. I plan to practice this portion of the painting before trying to complete the final painting.

Richard D. Burton: Winter Kindling
Richard D. Burton: Winter Kindling

I think it was about thirty-six years ago, when I painted “Winter Kindling” that was the first time I tried lifting paint to create items in the composition that barely showed; such as, the grass blades and chopped wood and portion of the ax. It was a valuable experiment that helped me throughout many of my other paintings. However, it is wise to be cautious, planning your lifting carefully, and not overworking it.

In the painting, “The Removal – Trail of Tears”, the lifting of the paint went into, through, mixed, and all the way at times, stopping when a certain color of the three washes – Red, Yellow, Blue, and the white of the paper -showed up and added to the painting where I needed it to make the effect. If you look closely at the ground, mountain and sky, you can see where I used this method to do the painting of details for me rather than adding paint to the composition.

There are many ways to remove paint in a watercolor. In another blog I’ll discuss these methods.

If you enjoy art work depicting The Original Americans, you will appreciating my brother’s paintings at (click on) 

Be sure to type in the name Lynn Burton in the search sight.

Unnamed: Lynn Burton
Unnamed: Lynn Burton









Posted in art project, Lynn Burton, original Americans, Paintings, paper, Richard D. Burton, Trail of Tears, Transparent Watercolor, washes, water color, watercolor, Winter Kindling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art Takes Much More Than Paint, Brushes, and Substrates

R. D. Burton at Easel
R. D. Burton at Easel

Art takes much more than paint, brushes, and substrates. I usually paint the composition constantly in my mind, letting it mull over, before pencil or paint sketching. I then attempt pencil sketching the first composition, and as usual, it doesn’t work. Then I play with it…not too much…I don’t want to overdo it. I trust my mind composition enough to know something is there, it probably just needs a few edges smoothed out. I tell myself this, and then I go about trying to work out color sketches. While playing with color ideas, I usually do a graphite full size drawing to make sure the composition and value are correct. This was the case of  “Down Wind Wait,” a composition of an Indian with his Wolf companion waiting for deer upwind from them.

Down Wind Wait; Richard D. Burton
“Down Wind Wait” : Richard D. Burton (Graphite on Paper)

I’d decided before I painted the picture of “Agonizing Spirit/Trail of Tears”, I should do a little more studying of the clothing and weaponry of the late 1830s Cherokee Indians. However, with my passion for history, I became engrossed with the internet articles about the Cherokees. I downloaded many articles of clothing, symbols, jewelry (and etcetera) used at the time. Slowly, I was building a world from the past. Yes, sometimes an artist wishes to be an emotional part of his painting. Vicariously become part of that which he is painting. Some of us think of this as being in the ZONE.

Also, before attempting to paint “Agonizing Spirit/ Trail of Tears”, I decided to look inside the drawing and find other possibilities of compositions. If I could, it could increase the total worth by making a great many drawings and paintings.  It would also give me a great amount of experience painting different compositions of Indians in different settings that could only help me for my final painting. All in all, it could only be a great experience that would challenge me for several months. Ah! What a life, huh?

Down WindWait: R.D. Burton
“Down Wind Wait”: Watercolor (Arches :300) – R.D. Burton

But this painting took a lot more than paint, brushes, and substrates. It took a lot of study, downloads from the internet, thinking, making and correcting several mistakes, including ruining a couple of attempted paintings and throwing them away and starting over after doing all the creative things I could do to correct them. So the painting at the left is painting #3. It is 14″X17″, and I find it acceptable and pleasing.

As many artists know, watercolor paintings are very unforgiving. For this reason, I like to use Arches 300 because it can take a lot of scrubbing, nibbing, correcting, painting over. However, if it goes dirty then all the creative “artist tricks” in the world will make it scream: “Throw me away and start over!” Believe me, the first two paintings that I threw away screamed this loud and clear. However, in this final work, I kept the touch of the brush to any particular area painting to no more than three times. It turned out very clean, which was one of my main goals.

Below, I am showing a picture of just a few of the many drawings, paint sketches, downloads, books, and other things that cluttered my studio as I had a whim to embrace to make this simple painting.

Join our newsletter (above at the right) and be in a drawing for a beautiful art book (only in states that allow this).

Be sure to visit the galleries above to visit my family art works, my brother Texas Artist Lynn Burton has his own gallery, but it expands if you visit his site by clicking here and typing his name in the search engine  

research items
Research items used in painting “Down Wind Wait”
Posted in art, art information, Artist, drawing, Lynn Burton, painting, R. D. Burton, Uncategorized, watercolor, watercolor sketch, watercolors | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Paper Dolls to Assist Your Composition

Down Wind Wait; Richard D. Burton
“Down Wind Wait” : Richard D. Burton (Graphite on Paper)

Artist do what an artist has to do to reach their goal as an accepted composition. For example, in my composition of “Trail of Tears/Agonizing Spirit,” I drew several depictions of Indians from top of head to bottom of feet. They were drawn in perspective using the head size of the closest figure on the left, and becoming smaller using the vanishing point above since they were walking down an inclining road.

Graphite Drawing: Wailing Spirit - Trail of Tears
Wailing Spirit – Trail of Tears: Graphite Drawing (13’X24″) : Richard D. Burton

After I draw each, having decided their head size in perspective, I cut them into paper dolls (head to foot), and arranged them behind each other, and kept arranging and re-arranging until I was satisfied with the composition.

Depiction of cutout of Graphite drawing

I’m sure that not every artist would go to this type of work to create their piece of art, but would rather just sketch graphite on paper. Whatever works for the individual artist. There are no right or wrongs in my art world…and I did make many loose sketches before getting serious about the work. But before I call it a picture, it must be acceptable to me. After all my name goes on it into perpetuity (That’s a scary thought.).

Be sure to visit our family galleries (above). Also enter to receive a newsletter, and attempt to win our free drawing for a beautiful art book.

Also if you are interested in the artwork of Texas artist, Lynn Burton, you may visit his sight at and typing his name in the search section. An easier way to go to the sight is to simply click on the painting below. Lynn is  prolific artist and is not designed by his choice of genre. He paints pictures with compositions of Western, South Western, landscapes, flowers, and he also does murals, such as the one below.

Buddy Holly Mural
Texas artist, Lynn Burton, in front of Mural




























Posted in American Indian, art, Artist, drawing, Drawing, paper dolls, Trail of Tears | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trail of Tears

Graphite on paper (unfinished) : Richard D. Burton

Having been raised in New Mexico, Southwest Art, Indians, cowboys, ranches, cattle and etc., are common themes when it pertains to art.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I recently awakened (precisely at 3:00 a.m.) one morning with a scene in my head depicting the “Trail of Tears”. It was a scene that was clear in my mind, almost as if stamped.

I began searching the web for any artists depictions of the event that took place in the late 1830’s and early 40’s. There were several, but nothing in the composition I envisioned. I’d not watched any movie depicting the event, nor had I read about it in more than thirty-eight years when I visited the Cherokee Village in North Carolina in 1978. So, I began to research it. Wow…is there a lot there. However, as I mentioned, no composition found that is the one I imagined.

Graphite study for future watercolor: Graphite drawing
Agonizing Spirit, Trail of Tears: Graphite Study for Watercolor: Richard D. Burton

As many of my sight visitors know, I like to do a full size drawing as a study for my watercolor paintings. Watercolors are not forgiving, so if trying to paint in somewhat of a realistic style requires some serious planning and studying, and even then it is precarious at best…at least, for me. The drawing is 20″X30″.

When I finished this drawing, I e-mailed it to my brother, Texas artist Lynn Burton for his critique on the composition. Lynn’s critique (as expected) was honest (he doesn’t pull any punches). He felt the scenery with the trees, rocks, old chief and wife sitting on the side, the valley and back mountains took the viewer’s interest away from the two main subjects of the composition, the Indians on the trail and spirit in the sky.

Now, me, personally, I like expansive scenes. Lynn, however, was speaking strictly as an art critic, which is exactly what I asked him to do. However, before I was going to put in several days re-doing the drawing, I wanted to get a feel for what he was talking about.

Cut out of "Agonizing Spirit - Trail of Tears"
Cut out of “Agonizing Spirit – Trail of Tears”

I sent a copy of my drawing to the printer, and then I cut the valley and far mountains out of the small picture and taped the top to the bottom. It brought the spirit closer to the Indians on the trail and did clarify the focus to the two subjects in the composition. So, this meant I could start painting the composition…or not.

When I say this, it means now I had to make another decision. Do I want to completely re-draw the new composition? It would be a lot of work, but I finally shrugged my shoulders with determination to do just that. My thinking was simple. It really wasn’t a hard decision to make. I’d drawn the original drawing on the back of an inexpensive old panel board that had been in the garage, sometimes in the attic, and always in a stack of items this pack rat just hadn’t bothered to throw away. It was probably more than twenty or thirty years old exposed to whatever elements existed. On the drawing, I’d made a multitude of errors, and the rips and eraser tears in the substrate were unpardonable for anything but a study, which is all it was originally meant to be. However, when making the drawing, I became attached to it, and often wished I’d made a good quality drawing (possibly worth selling someday). Soon I was off to the art supply store happy to be disappointed to have to do the drawing all over again. I don’t think I had to use the eraser even once on the new drawing, done very carefully on acid free drawing paper, from upper left to lower right. This drawing was smaller, 13″X24″. Nothing on the new drawing was smaller than the original. The arrangement of the composition itself made the difference in size. Since I mentioned that I tend to appreciate many expansive painting compositions, I may very well paint both compositions. I also intend to make many segmented painting studies before attempting the final paintings that within themselves may be composed in a way that they may have value. Who knows?

Graphite Drawing: Wailing Spirit - Trail of Tears
Wailing Spirit – Trail of Tears: Graphite Drawing (13″X24″) : Richard D. Burton

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Unfinished: Lynn Burton (Oil on Canvass)
Unfinished: Lynn Burton (Oil on Canvass)

























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