The Dream Spin­ner

Roy An­der­sen, prom­i­nent il­lus­tra­tor and pain­ter of Na­tive Amer­i­can fig­ures, passes away at 88.

Western Art Collector - - WESTERN ART NEWS -

Known for his deep love of the West and the fig­ures who pop­u­lated it, Roy An­der­sen set him­self apart from his peers with his abstracted back­grounds, ex­cep­tional com­po­si­tions, vi­brant col­ors and his ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Na­tive Amer­i­can his­tory. The il­lus­tra­tor from New York who came West and thrived in Western art, died on April 25 in Ker­rville, Texas. He was 88 years old.

An­der­sen en­joyed a long and pros­per­ous ca­reer in Western art, where his paint­ings of Na­tive Amer­i­cans, par­tic­u­larly Plains In­di­ans, were held up along­side works by Howard Terp­n­ing, James Reynolds, Ken­neth Ri­ley and other Western greats.

“Roy com­posed through read­ing and re­search­ing, and he rarely used a cam­era. When it came time to paint he would re­ally lay the paint on there. His works would build up the lay­ers and he would scrape them down. What he loved is that he could tell a story through his pant­ing,” says Claggett/rey Gallery owner Bill Rey, who adds that An­de­sen loved Paul Bond boots—more than 50 pairs were found in his house af­ter he passed. “He loved col­lect­ing the West, read­ing the West, vis­it­ing the West—all as­pects of it. When he moved out West it val­i­dated him as a Westerner and he could fi­nally play with all the things he read about in books.”

Be­fore he came West in the 1980s, An­der­sen worked in illustrati­on in New York and

Chicago. It was dur­ing this pe­riod that he cre­ated what would be his most rec­og­niz­able works, the poster im­age for

Clint East­wood’s 1976 Western film The Outlaw Josey Wales. An­der­sen also did work for

Time, Sports Il­lus­trated, Na­tional Geo­graphic and did two se­ries of award-win­ning stamps for the United States Postal Ser­vice.

Out West he lived in Cave Creek, Ari­zona, for a pe­riod, but even­tu­ally moved to Ker­rville, Texas. He lived near pain­ter Robert Pum­mill and the two be­came fast friends. “He was a sto­ry­teller, and he was good tech­ni­cian when it came to the paint­ing. He loved what he was do­ing, and that love shows up in his work. He was very knowl­edge­able of the sub­jects be­cause he col­lected ar­ti­facts and did the re­search,” Pum­mill says, adding that both pain­ters served to­gether in the Cow­boy Artists of Amer­ica for a brief pe­riod. “The qual­ity of his work, and the ac­cu­racy of his work, that ded­i­ca­tion to his art will be his legacy and what he’s re­mem­bered for.”

Brad Richard­son, owner of the Legacy Gallery in Scotts­dale, Ari­zona, worked with An­der­sen for 20 years. “About a month ago Roy called and we chat­ted for a long time, and I didn’t re­al­ize it at the time, but I think he was say­ing good­bye. I told him how much we had en­joyed work­ing with him and how highly we thought of him. He was a great guy,”

Richard­son says. “Roy’s paint­ings had a look to them. He was an ex­cel­lent pain­ter, and did he ever like his color. I will miss him.”

An­der­sen’s work is shown at Legacy Gallery, Claggett/rey and at In­sight Gallery, which is in Fred­er­icks­burg, Texas, not far from his home in Ker­rville. His paint­ings have won nu­mer­ous awards at shows around the coun­try, and they have per­formed well at auc­tion, hit­ting six fig­ures at nu­mer­ous sales. Many of his great pieces can be seen in his 2000 book Dream Spin­ner: The Art of Roy An­der­sen.

“Western art started for me as a way of il­lus­trat­ing an un­writ­ten text. Sto­ries ran side­ways through my brain, equal parts movie, comic strip and cow­boy pa­per­back, with a strong dash of his­tor­i­cal re­search thrown in,” An­der­sen wrote in Dream Spin­ner. “In time I imag­ined the fig­ures and horses get­ting smaller and smaller. The land­scape, the real drama of the Amer­i­can West, be­gan to dom­i­nate my can­vases. I dis­cov­ered a real love. The sky, the land, the weather. The In­di­ans, cow­boys and set­tlers who yes­ter­day moved through this land are gone, but the space it­self is still there. Like all life, it changes yet re­mains the same.”

In a clos­ing pas­sage in his book, An­der­sen con­tin­ued:

“…You go on knowing that the next paint­ing will your best one, or at least pray­ing it will be. Paint­ing is a race against time, as you hope to fin­ish all the paint­ings in you and learn as much of your craft as you can. Tell the tale as you know it, and if you err, do it on the side of great truth… beauty. Sa­muel Johnson wrote in prayer, ‘O Lord who hith­erto sup­ported me, en­able me to pro­ceed in this present la­bor, that in the last day when I make an ac­count of the tal­ent com­mit­ted to me, I may re­ceive a par­don.’”

Roy An­der­sen in his stu­dio. Cour­tesy In­sight Gallery.

Apache White Wa­ter, 1989, oil on canvas, 40 x 60”. Booth Western Art Mu­seum.

Roy An­der­sen works on a large paint­ing in his Ker­rville, Texas, stu­dio. Cour­tesy In­sight Gallery.

Dance of the Wheel Lance, oil on canvas, 30 x 40”

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