American painting has blossomed into such diversity that it might have closed our 20th century with no clear sense of direction. Yet out of this scattered field, the Figurative School – the Realists – are rising to focus sustained love on the American land.
The Figurative Movement – the Realists
Although American landscape painters once looked like a dying breed, the landscape in American art is a vital influence…and growing. Painters such as Willard Dixon, Mark Innerst, Altoon Sultan and Dalhart Windberg are examples of a growing Figurative movement.
Rise of Regional Art
We see evidence of decentralization. That is, regional art is composing more of the national profile than ever before, as artists build successful careers in their home states. Dixon and Windberg, for example operate national careers from their respective states of California and Texas.
These trends encourage me, for I work primarily in realism. My background and training include strong classical and traditional techniques, and my style reflects a love of the land – and of living on the land.
Hometown Artist Dalhart Windberg
Rockport School of Fine Art – Simon Michael
The Moods of the Sky
Over the years, I worked for my father, who ran a trucking company. Many nights I rode in the back of the truck with the doors open and watched the night sky for hours as we drove from Cuero to San Antonio. I was intrigued by the moon and the moving clouds. Warm nights gave me a fascination with the sky. I wanted to paint it. And still today, in my landscape work I make the sky with all its moods a strong theme.
Northwood Institute Contemporary Arts Program
My first year of college, in the Contemporary Arts Program of Northwood Institute, I studied under painter Robert “Big Daddy” Wade and kinetic sculptor Alberto Collie (Smithsonian, Against Gravitropism, Merlin With Magnets). The Fort Worth Art Museum under Curator Henry Hopkins co-sponsored the institute’s art program. I continued studies at Victoria College under Larry Shook where I began exhibiting and selling in area galleries in the early 70’s.
Smooth-Surface Technique of the Flemish Masters
The smooth style of the Flemish masters has a haunting quality. My early mentor, Dalhart Windberg, adapted a style from his tours in Europe that incorporated a smooth surface. His medium technique with the oils made the brush strokes invisible, and made an impression on me. I set a goal to learn smooth-surface techniques, and you can see the result in most of my figure or landscape work.
A Girl Who Changed My Life for the Better
After completing studies at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, I met a girl from Michigan who changed my life for the better…my wife Rebecca Ann. I moved to Michigan in 1978 and began teaching art at Jordan College in Cedar Springs. I formed my own studio and gallery space, became self-employed as an artist, and continued to teach art – in college and privately – while accepting painting commissions, as well as work in design and photography.
Priority on Painting
In 1991, I began placing a higher priority on area exhibitions and producing new series of paintings. I was asked to join the Founding Board of Rivertown Artists’ Guild and through that association have come to know some of the finest people in the arts in West Michigan. Several shows later I am experimenting each week with something new, and the response from area artists, galleries, and patrons motivates me onward.
Priority on Scott and Lindsey
My two children, Scott (11) and Lindsey (7), seem happy that their daddy is trying to ride some of the newer trends in building a fine art career and is spending time – not in New York City – but with them in our back yard.