Robert Pum­mill

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS -

Texas minis

To cel­e­brate his 82nd birth­day, Robert Pum­mill de­cided to paint 82 minia­ture works for a new show at In­sight Gallery in Fred­er­icks­burg, Texas. “Eighty-two seemed like a good num­ber,” he says, “at least at the time.” Af­ter quickly re­al­iz­ing how her­culean of a task it was to do 82 new works, Pum­mill set­tled on a more man­age­able batch of 60 new works, which is still a tremen­dous amount of new paint­ings, even if they are small works.

“They may be small, but you still have to cre­ate a good com­po­si­tion and a good paint­ing. You have all the same prob­lems as a large piece, but now, less area to work in,” Pum­mill says. “It can be dif­fi­cult, but also very re­ward­ing. I get so many re­quests for small works that I de­cided to ded­i­cate the year to small paint­ings.”

Pum­mill, who doesn’t paint from pho­to­graphs, says he starts with a com­po­si­tion and then takes “scraps of ma­te­rial” from his vis­ual mem­ory and re­search to cob­ble to­gether the scene. The re­sult­ing paint­ings don’t de­pict real-world places, but they have a lived-in feel to them; they are places that most Tex­ans have walked through be­fore. Scenes in­clude dusty dirt roads through Texas Hill Coun­try, cac­tus and tall grass fill­ing mead­ows rich with color and life and a Texas sta­ple, blue­bon­nets.

“Spring and April, even into June, that’s when most of the wildlflow­ers come out. And then we have the prickly pears that can bloom in June and July and yuc­cas in early sum­mer. Even into fall things are com­ing up if you know where to look,” the painter says. “It’s the color, all of it is so won­der­ful.”

One of the hall­marks of Pum­mill’s works is cer­tainly color, but an­other is at­mos­phere, par­tic­u­larly the haze and dust that can set­tle in the air, cre­at­ing muted colors and dif­fus­ing light. “Years back when I first met Bob Lougheed, he told me he fi­nally felt that he had met some­one who could paint at­mos­phere,” he says. “Paint­ing at­mos­phere is paint­ing an il­lu­sion. If you un­der­stand what hap­pens to light and edge and val­ues un­der cer­tain at­mo­spheric con­di­tions or times of day, then you can recre­ate that in a paint­ing.”

Long known for his con­sis­tent work ethic, Pum­mill says the key to paint­ing is to sim­ply paint. “If you have to wait around for in­spi­ra­tion to do 60 paint­ings, you’ll never get it done,” he adds.

“His work ethic is un­par­al­leled, paint­ing from 7 a.m. un­til sun­down seven days a week,” says El­iz­a­beth Har­ris, owner and di­rec­tor at In­sight. “He thor­oughly en­joys his work and that shows in all of his paint­ings. When you ask him about his best work he al­ways laughs and says it’s his next piece be­cause he gets bet­ter with ev­ery paint­ing.”

Pum­mill’s show opens Fe­bru­ary 6 and con­tin­ues through Fe­bru­ary 23.

Fields of Blue, oil, 8 x 22”

Au­tumn Morn­ing, oil, 12 x 16”

Along a Coun­try Road, oil, 12 x 16”

Prickly Pear in Bloom, oil, 9 x 11”

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