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.

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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)

























Posted in art, art information, Artist, drawing, Graphite Drawing, Indians, Lynn Burton, painting, Richard D. Burton, Trail of Tears, watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Art

Pencil Sketch
Agonizing Spirit Over Trail of Tears: Richard D.Burton (pencil sketch for painting)

I have always been a fan of Western and Southwestern art. Having been raised in New Mexico, cowboys and Indians were a tradition.  If I recall correctly, they didn’t take the hitching rails out of downtown Carlsbad until I was five or six years old. As a wee small child, I would stand on the steps of the church I attended on Sunday mornings and watch the cowboys ride down the foothills on horseback on their way to church. They rode along side an old flatbed truck transporting their wives and children who sat on seat benches screwed to the truck’s bed.

Arlen Burton: "Signal Peak" (Oil on Canvas)
Arlen Burton: “Signal Peak” (Oil on Canvas)

My father, Arlen Burton, painted one of my favorite Southwestern landscape scenes showing the Indian chief, Sitting Bull’s, favorite mountain to send smoke signals to his warriors. There is a water fall in the mountains called Sitting Bull Falls.

The Scouts: C.M. Russell
The Scouts: C.M. Russell


As a teenager, I discovered two Western artists that I became enamored with by their works. One was Charles Marion Russell (also known as C. M. Russell, Charlie Russell, and “Kid Russell”).  The other was Frederic Sackrider Remington.

The Blanket Signal: Frederic Remington

Both of these men were born in the 1860s and lived into the first quarter of the 20th century. Their art specifically concentrated on the last quarter of the 19-century American West. What a marvelous time to be an artist, sculptor, and writer in the old West!

C. M. Russell was a very prolific artist, creating more than 2000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes set in Western United States and Alberta, Canada. His painting Piegans sold for 5.6 million dollars at an auction in 2005, and his mural titled Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians hangs in the state capitol building in Helena Montana.

Doodle Sketches
Doodle Sketches

I woke up the other morning around three o’clock from a nagging dream. I lay awake for over two hours concentrating on the dream. It was about a painting of Indians during a period of great travail. A painting I will attempt to paint. I fell back asleep and slept for a couple of more hours, but when I awakened I grabbed a couple of pencils and began to doodle, ultimately sketching the drawing at the top of this page. This is just a small part of the painting I saw in my dream.

Unnamed: Lynn Burton
Unnamed: Lynn Burton

Probably, I had this compelling dream because my brother, Lynn Burton, sent me several pieces of his Western Art. Lynn is one of my favorite artist (okay, I confess to being prejudice). Lynn’s art is represented on a the Fine Art America website, and you can shop or purchase prints and original art. All you need to do if you are interested is click on the painting to the right. It will take you to the Fine Art America web sight. When you are in the sights, type Lynn Burton into the search at the top of the page, and it will take you to his paintings. Shop and enjoy.

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Indian Falls: Oil on Canvas; Lynn Burton
Indian Falls: Oil on Canvas; Lynn Burton










Posted in Arlen Burton, C.M. Russell, Charles M. Russell, Frederic Remington, Indians, Landscapes, Old West, Richard D. Burton, Southwes art, Western art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using a Monochromatic Technique to Assist in Painting


Under painting

Texas artist, Lynn Burton, often uses a monochromatic painting as an under painting when painting a picture. He prefers the earth pigments using only white, black, and one color. “It helps work out the contrast, the darks and lights,” he says. “I can always add the color later,” he continues, as if he thinks everyone is an artist, and understands exactly what he means. They don’t, but somehow gets the gist.

"Momma and her babies": Lynn Burton: Oil
“Momma and her babies”: Lynn Burton: Oil






The technique has been used by many artists from the beginning of time. Every artist has their own technique, but any method of study that helps define the contrast and value before applying the various pigments to a painting is helpful.

Lynn’s brother, Ohio artist, Richard Burton , uses a different technique. He goes to the painstaking effort of drawing with pencil (actual size – and in great detail) the picture he intends to paint. He claims that while he draws he sees in his mind’s eye every color and stroke of the brush as he does this. “It helps work out the mistakes I would make,” he says. Richard mostly paints with water color on paper and doesn’t have the benefit of using a monochromatic under painting.

Painting on Arches 300-lb 22"X30" watercolor paper
Painting on Arches 300-lb 22″X30″ watercolor paper

“Every artist knows there’s not a lot of room for error when dealing with water colors,” he continues.  One of his more recent paintings was a 24″X36″ painting, and sure enough, he drew it full size.100_2556

He feels that in its own way the black and white of the pencil and the paper, and the many light and dark shades in between will works out the value and contrast of the painting. “Mostly,” he says nonchalantly, “any way you can do a study of the work before applying the final touches to it is a benefit.”

"King of the Hill" : Oil on Canvass - Lynn Burton
“King of the Hill” : Oil on Canvass – Lynn Burton

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Getting The Best Out of Color Scemes

Painting on Arches 300-lb 22"X30" watercolor paper
Painting on Arches 300-lb 22″X30″ watercolor paper

The master artists understood color, hue, temperature, chroma, and value, and knew how to place the pigments onto their canvas (board, or whatever substrate) with meticulous care. Many of them also made and mixed their own colors, and painted with a very few of these. For example, many of Rembrandt’s palettes only consisted of shades of umber, ochre, white, black, and red. How simple is that?
Of course, it’s unfair to try to relate to the great artist of old as if they painted the only way an artist should paint. The playing field is not equal. They didn’t have the many choices of tubed colors we have today. When you realize it wasn’t until the early 1800s that a variety of different colors became available, then you understand artists before this time had to work with what they had. Because of this, it was the limitation of the palette that created such harmonious paintings.

Artist, Lynn Burton: Oil on Canvass
Artist, Lynn Burton: Oil on Canvass




Lynn Burton just sent a new series of paintings to us, and we wanted to feature some of them. I especially like what I consider to be a more vibrant and active style of paintings than what we have seen before.






"King of the Hill" : Oil on Canvass - Lynn Burton
“King of the Hill” : Oil on Canvass – Lynn Burton


Who doesn’t love a “Stag in the woods” painting?




A buffalo standing atop a hill, showing all his might and strength, dominates this painting. However, it’s not just the composition that reigns supreme here. What really makes the painting is  the subtle use of the secondary color scheme.

The color scheme using green, orange, and violet are especially good in landscape paintings, creating harmony, giving you that inviting feeling of being able to walk right into the picture.


Lynn Burton: Oil on Canvas
Lynn Burton: Oil on Canvas




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Painting Hair – The Unique Challenge

Lynn Burton: oil on canvas
Lynn Burton: oil on canvas

Everything has its own challenge when painting, but there is no challenge quite as unique as when painting hair. When painting hair, an artist has to consider avoiding the stringy look. They should keep the masses simple. They need to master softening the edges; and, above all, they must know how to control highlights.

Keep in mind, when edges are too hard (especially where hair meets the forehead), it will give the impression of wearing a helmet. Two areas to pay particular attention to are the hairline near the temple, and where the hair meets the neck.

When considering highlighting, it helps to remember the full mass of hair gets darker as it turns away from the highlight region. If you visualize masses of hair as ribbons, the highlight goes across, not along, the curving shape.

Segment of watercolor For demonstration purposes only
Richard D. Burton: Segment of watercolor
For demonstration purposes only

A good suggestion for water color artists is to use a dry-brush technique that can utilize the white paper (or lighter color of paint) beneath it to assist in the impression of highlighting. This can suggest a texture of the model’s hair in light. To use this technique, hold the brush handle low to the paper and gently scrumble or drag damp paint over the surface of the painting. This allows portions of white or lighter colors to show beneath the affect. Warning: Do not use to much water in your wash when using the dry-brush technique.

Lynn Burton: "Love That Dog" oil on canvas
Lynn Burton: “Love That Dog” oil on canvas

When it comes to painting hair, remember it has so many textures and colors that there are no recipes. An artist must practice and use their own experiences and studies to satisfy themselves. Hair might be frizzy, curly, wavy, long or short. The only advise this artist can suggest it to use the largest brush possible for the job, and keep the forms simple.

However, here is one suggestion: One way to give hair a more natural look in your painting is to lightly scrape small, squiggly, strokes when the background around the head is almost dry. If this is done with care (not overdone), it can give the impression of a few random wisps of hair along the edge of the head. When painting with watercolors, I usually use a pin for this. I know one watercolor artists that uses her long fingernail on her little finger for this. What a master she  is. She does it so quick and natural…stroke, stroke.

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Select Your Watercolor Paper Wisely

Painting on Arches 300-lb 22"X30" watercolor paper
Painting on Arches 300-lb 22″X30″ watercolor paper

When selecting the paper you paint your watercolors upon, select wisely. The success or failure of your painting often depends upon the paper. Because there are many differences among papers, you should experiment with many of them rather than settle early on just one or two in which you feel comfortable.

This article discusses paper sheets, but there are many papers sold in tablets and pads; most of these are light weight and of less quality. However, they are great to carry around to make watercolor sketches.

Some watercolor papers are soft (blotter like), and others are slow to absorb. Some dries quickly, and some will allow a good deal of abuse; such as, scrubbing and erasure techniques. When you experiment with different paper types, you will learn to use different ones for different kinds of paintings.

Paper Weights~refers to paper weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of that paper.

Richard D.Burton: "Winter Farm" (watercolor on paper)
Richard D.Burton: “Winter Farm” (Arches: 140lb rough)

The nature of the surface of the paper is highly important. It deserves more attention than it generally receives. Most artists habitually uses a very small number of the recognized makes and limit the scope of their work.

From the coarsest to the smoothest surface, almost any surface can be used with good effect. Each can be induced to display special charms by adopting suitable subjects, techniques, and methods. For example, a wash on a coarse paper will appear darker than if painted on a smooth paper; as if thousands of dots of color, slightly darker than the wash, had been added

To summarize, Watercolor papers come in three surfaces: rough, cold pressed, and smooth (hot pressed). For the use of bold technique, the rough is best. For general purposes, the cold pressed is best. The smooth (hot pressed) takes skill and is rarely used except by experienced professionals. For any serious person wishing to become good at painting with watercolor, it is best to practice with all the types of watercolor paper. It really does come down to personal taste.

R. D. Burton: Fishing the Everglades~Watercolor (16"X28")
R. D. Burton: Fishing the Everglades~Watercolor (16″X28″) Arches 300-lb

See R.D. Burton’s paintings in the Burton Family gallery.

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Vincent van Gogh’s Drawings

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Portrait of Vincent van Gogh
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec:
Portrait of Vincent van Gogh

What is drawing? It is working oneself through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do~Vincent van Gogh

As with all his art, Vincent van Gogh brought to his drawings a mastery of style and an extraordinary  technical facility. Because of this, much of his graphic works are as strong as his best oils. Over all, his works sprang from his overpowering, energetic, creative impulses.

Van Gogh had the ability to give his drawings depth, resolution, and a certain feeling of color, even though they were black and white. He did this with the way he used line and dot strokes. As with his paintings, any person studying his drawings can not fail to see the energy expended.

Other artists acquainted with Van Gogh often became influenced by the power and intensity. One such artist was Toulouse-Lautrec who painted Van Gogh sitting at a cafe table, using much of Van Gogh’s technique using bold colors and closely knit,hatched strokes

Vincent van Gogh: Cypresses, Saint-Remy (1889) - Drawing
Vincent van Gogh: Cypresses, Saint-Remy (1889) – Drawing

Vincent sketched cypress trees while he was at the asylum at Saint-Remy, finding them a “turbulent vitality in their graceful shape and mass. His drawings of the trees show the dynamic spirals, curlicues and undulating lines that characterize his later style.

Most all students studying art history know of the compelling work Van Gogh did in color. How he began to make an arbitrary use of color, seeking the exact harmonies that would (in his words)”express the love of two lovers by a wedding of two complimentary colors, their mingling and their opposition, the mysterious vibrations of kindred tones.” Without a doubt, he was obsessed with color. If one studies carefully his drawings (such as the one to the right), they almost feel while graphite touched the paper, the artist was considering how to mix the colors to use in the painting. This author feels Van Gogh painted this drawing over and over in his mind, seeing it clearly in his mind’s eye, imagining every thick brush stroke as it hit canvas.

Vincent van Gogh: Fishing Boats at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1888)
Vincent van Gogh: Fishing Boats at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1888)

The above depiction of art of Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are simply photographs of photographs. They were used as information only. They are not to depict any value or worth.
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Artist Lynn Burton: Whas…it?



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James Frederick…the Great Artist

Artist: James Frederick: "The List" (Graphite on paper)
James Frederick “The List” (Graphite on paper)

As when a tree’s cut down, the secret root live underground, and  thence new branches shoot~John Dryden.

I’ll never forget the summer a few years ago, when I visited my daughter, my grandchildren, and my son-in-law in Texas. I especially wanted to spend the much needed time that I’d set aside for the too many things happening in my life that was tying me up, making me stressful. The stress was mostly coming from my fear of retiring at the time. I was in the process of deciding to spend the rest of my life with my art, and helping other artists promote and market their work. I wasn’t certain I wanted to do this, or simply retire, and fish, travel, and etc. The fishing and traveling part sounded very tempting. However, oft, we do not fearlessly step into the unknown. It was at this time that I had an opportunity to reacquaint myself with my son-in-law’s father, James Frederick…the great artist. I say great, not because he was a world-wide famous artist, but because after studying his works, I felt he should have been. Even at that time, I knew enough about art, and artists, to know what is good art, and what is not. I could tell at instant glance that James Frederick’s meticulous art work was superior. The works were decorating the walls all around his home. This was why I said the great artist…James Frederick.

I spent a good deal of time taking photos of his pictures (which are often posted on this blog sight). A few month’s before, I’d began my blog post, and I wanted to introduce the world to his works.

James Frederick: "Original American" Graphite on Paper
James Frederick: “Original American” Graphite on Paper

However, it wasn’t the artwork that was the only thing that inspired me, it was the conversations we had in the afternoons, sitting in rocking chairs, casually discussing some of his attempts to promote his works at fairs, and other public events. Promoting art was not easy for him, but it did often have a sense of satisfaction. We laughed when he discussed having won an art contest at the Smithsonian Institute for man’s air flight. He’d sent drawings of a group of four airplanes, matted together and framed. However, only one of the drawings won the contest. He refused to separate the drawings because he’d entered the contest with the four planes as one framed set. If they had to have the one, he would have to refuse the honor. He chuckled, and said: “They decided to keep them as a set, and I won the contest.”


James Frederick: Stearman (graphite on paper) Smithsonian
James Frederick: Stearman (graphite on paper) Smithsonian
Art of James Frederick on the wall of the great house on the Frederick estate
Art of James Frederick

The photo on the wall does not give much detail of the drawings; however, the drawing on the right is one of the four. You can see why James would have  won a contest with this drawing.

With great regret, less than a year after my visit that so inspired me to be more passionate about art, James passed. He was eighty years old. However, his art remains.

Below are a few other works of James Frederick…The Great Artist.

James Frederick :The Empty Chair (Oil on Board)
James Frederick :The Empty Chair (Oil on Board)
James Fredrick: Plate, Fruit, and Coffee Pot
James Fredrick: Plate, Fruit, and Coffee Pot





James Frederick: "Poppin' Johny" Graphite on paper
James Frederick: “Poppin’ Johnny” Graphite on paper


James Frederick: "The Squirrel Hunter"
James Frederick: “The Squirrel Hunter”











James Frederick: Still Life Pastel
James Frederick: Still Life Pastel
James Frederick: Still Life Pastel
James Frederick: Still Life Pastel

Just as Dryden’s poem at the beginning of this post mentions, when the tree falls, the roots live on. His grand-daughter, as well as mine, Olivia, has shown that the art of the Frederick and Burton family will live.

Olivia: Kingly Beast (Graphite on Paper)
Olivia: Kingly Beast (Graphite on Paper)
Olivia: Untitled (graphite pencil)
Olivia: Untitled











For some more of Olivia’s works, check out the Burton Family gallery.

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Posted in art contest, Artist, drawing, James Frederick, OLIVIA, Smithsonian Institute | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment