Friday, April 03, 2009

April 3, 2009
A friend of mine in Bullhead City thought their musuem might have an original Charlie Russell painting. When I was in Kingman last weekend, I took a good look at the framed image. Although it appeared quite authentic with painterly strokes (it was definitely a Russell and not a knockoff) and was on canvas, it was the wrong size. The original painting "Free Trappers" done in 1911 is 33X24 inches and this one was smaller. Probably a print done in giclee, a process where a print is glued right onto a canvas to make it appear like a real painting. As these techniques become more sophisticated, it certainly is going to become more difficult to spot the real deal. Reminds me of the scene in Blade Runner where the only way to spot a cyborg is to use a magnifying glass on the pupil of their eye. Otherwise they easily pass for human.

Speaking of humans and Charlie Russell, as I studied the many Charlie Russells in the Raisonne book I was using to verify the painting, I began to notice the same guy in several paintings. Here are a few of them, which I studied for my daily sketches:

It's no secret that as artists we tend to draw ourselves more often than not and evidently the Cowboy Artist was no exception. From Rawhide Rawlins (middle guy, rolling his own) to the stage robber (lower left) Charlie had a distinctive stance he leaned on in his paintings and illustrations, and, I must say, he did it well.

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
—John Wooden

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