Painting Western Culture
Texas artist Jared Paul Wilson brings Western culture to life with meticulously accurate detail.
By Katie Navarra
At some point in life, you’ve probably put colored pencil to paper: maybe via a coloring book, art class or for your very own refrigerator masterpiece.
In the hands of the recreational artist, colored pencils are one art’s most basic tools, ideal for adding bold splashes of color to your scene. But pinched between the thumb and fore-finger of a skilled artist like Jared Paul Wilson, colored pencils breathe life into artwork by adding texture, light and contrast.
With varying degrees of pressure and lots of patience, Jared meticulously adds up to 30 layers of color in any single square inch of the watercolor canvas that houses his artwork. With smooth blending strokes and mineral spirits, he transforms a blank canvas into a bustling scene filled with cattle and cowboys or a tranquil setting in the woods graced by a newborn fawn.
Though his medium is simple, Jared’s artwork is often mistaken for paintings. His preferred tools are hybrid Prismacolor pencils made from one-third clay, one-third wax and one-third pigment.
“The clay is what stacks the layers of color onto the paper,” he explained. “The wax gives it the beautiful shine that makes it look like a painting, and the pigment is the color.”
Jared’s pride in his Texas heritage, a love for Southern culture and wildlife, natural artistic talent and a fertile imagination fuel the artist’s dedication to his craft. Colored pencils are the vessel to which he brings those values to life.
Home on the Range
Growing up in Aledo, Texas, wildlife and the Western culture infiltrated every aspect of Jared’s life. His father was a pastor and money was scarce around the Wilson household, so the family didn’t own horses or live on a ranch. Instead, he observed with wide-eyed curiosity the goings-on at neighboring cattle ranches in the Fort Worth suburb.
“I was basically raised outside,” he said. “One of my earliest memories is of watching a fellow across the street forging horseshoes.”
When he found a discarded steer horn in a nearby pasture, Jared brought it home and hung it on his bedroom wall. From there, the young man began soaking in every minuscule detail of the Western lifestyle and landscape surrounding his boyhood home, filing it away in his mind for later use. By age 5, Jared was drawing—using those real-life scenes as inspirations—yet his homespun artwork was different than the typical kindergarten-variety scribbles.
“Some of my fondest creative memories as a young child were drawing depictions of pivotal moments in Texas’ history, such as the battle at the Alamo,” he said.
No detail was unimportant. The budding artist researched characters such as Davy Crockett, intent on achieving accuracy in clothing and including even the most elaborate details in his artwork.
“It’s quite humorous now to think back on the level of detail included while creating such scenes as a 5-year-old,” he said.
After high school, Jared attended Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, on a scholarship. For the first time, he received formal training in art.
“Even though I took art in high school, this was the first time I got to fully immerse myself in it,” he said.
College allowed Jared to explore a variety of mediums, including ceramics—though his interest in that avenue wasn’t really about the art itself, at least at first.
“I thought I’d have a good chance of meeting a girl if I took ceramics,” he laughed.
Much to his own surprise, Jared fell in love with the art form. After college, he accepted a position in South Florida teaching high-school ceramics. During that time, he created several permanent artwork installations, including a custom tile mosaic spanning 96 square feet—8 feet tall by 12 feet wide—composed of 3,000 individual tiles. Florida brought another love into Jared’s life; it was there he me his wife Erin. The two were married on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale in 2009 and soon relocated to Texas.
“I was homesick,” Jared said. “America is a beautiful country, but once you’ve lived in Texas it’s hard to live anywhere else.”
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2016 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.