Brush with History
A new art book celebrating the work of Morgan Weistling features the artist’s unmistakable brand of storytelling.
Painter Morgan Weistling’s works tell stories big and small. The small ones are right there on the canvas as his pioneer and Western figures go about their daily lives amid wholesome scenes on country farms or small Old West towns. The big stories take place elsewhere, on other paintings, and when assembled together reveal larger narratives as characters grow up, take on new responsibilities and find themselves in new settings.
These two storytelling aspects of Weistling’s paintings can be clearly seen in a new book about his career, his work and his long history with art. The book, A Brush With History: The Paintings of Morgan Weistling, is available now and features 182 full-color plates of his works, as well as looks into his early illustration career, his inspirations and his artistic family, which includes wife Joann Peralta and daughter Brittany Weistling.
The foreword of the book is written by painter Howard Terpning, who first met Weistling in 1999. “The first time I saw an original painting by Morgan Weistling was at a dealer seminar in Salt Lake City, Utah. The painting was titled Goats and Roses. It was truly a beautiful work, and I thought to myself, ‘My gosh where did this guy come from, and where has he been?’” Terpning writes in the book. “…There is humanity in Morgan’s work and a sensitivity that is so evident. His work is instantly recognizable from across the room. In order to paint a subject well, I believe that the artist must be emotionally connected to his or her subject matter. Painting a subject because it’s expedient—it’s what the collector is buying at the moment—will show in the end result. Morgan obviously feels that connection to his models, and he treats his subjects with respect on canvas. He is in complete command of his craft.”
Some of the works featured in A Brush With History include some of his most famous paintings, such as Indian Stories, the cover image which shows a grandfather sharing an adventure tale by the fireplace; The Quilting Bee, which depicts nearly a dozen women working on a quilt; Where Stories Were Told, showing a country store and its customers; and The Dance, which won the Prix de West museum purchase award in 2001 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice repeating motifs—stories, characters, items on shelves or tables and even pet cats—that pop up again and again in the artist’s works, each one advancing a different story within the world Weistling has created.
“I have always said that if it weren’t for knowing someone was going to see what I was creating, I would not have the desire to put all the effort required to produce it. I freely admit that I do these paintings for others to see—to communicate to someone else a feeling, a mood, and a story that means something to me,” Weistling writes in the book. “This talent to paint is a gift, and it is meant to be shared. Merely producing the art is not enough. It’s that vulnerability of showing it to someone for the first time that makes it complete. Therefore, painting is a language for me and requires someone willing to listen.”
For more information about the artist or the book, visit www.morganweistling.com.
A look inside Morgan Weistling’s new book.
A Brush With History: The Paintings of Morgan Weistling, published by Blackhammer Press.