Friday, June 19, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ My Bargain by Bart Forbes

During a short trip to north Texas in late April I bought a signed limited edition print (97/780) of a watercolour painting by Bart Forbes, the picture measures around 25" x 30" in its frame. It was being sold 50% off (original price was only $25). A bargain, I thought, even though the painting's backing was damaged and the framing needed some strengthening, it had once been well-framed, and with expensive non-reflective glass. It was the subject matter of the painting that had first caught my eye though.

Painting's title, written in the artist's own hand is "Venezuela". I hadn't deciphered that until I got a closer look. I did appreciate, or suspect, that the painting was a kind of potted history of the oil industry. Yeah - I know, it's in bad books these days due to environmental destruction and contribution to climate change. However, in a similar way to coal, for use of which our predecessors were eternally thankful I feel sure, oil was another natural resource which catapulted civilisation forward at an amazing rate - possibly too fast - but that's another story.

In the painting, starting top left, is a representation of the forest where basics of oil were laid down aeons ago, to the right of that is a basic oil derrick. At bottom left oil has become the means of easy travel in the 1920s and 30s. The inset illustration shows a couple of oil men standing before a fully fledged oil field. At far bottom right - hmmm - was that patch foggy darkness a depiction of oil itself - or a prophecy, I wonder ?

The picture hasn't translated to computer screen too well, the frame is not black, it's a mid-brown wooden frame. The painting's colours are more subtle yet more distinct, a little sharper than shown. It does have a generally faded look but I don't think it has faded, I think it's in an intended washy water colour style, in shades of aquamarine and grey, with just one splash of a pinkish shade. Click on image for a slightly bigger version.

Husband has now replaced and strengthened the picture's two layers of backing and fixed remaining frame problems - good as new! It now hangs to the right of my compuer desk.

Bart Forbes, I have now discovered was born on 3 July 1939 in Altus, Oklahoma, now lives in Dallas Texas. Wikipedia has a short piece on the artist; there's a 2 minute video featuring Mr Forbes:

More images of his paintings, including lots of sports subjects, can be seen via Google Image.


mike said...

Nice find, Twilight! I like the muted, washed colors and the contrast between the natural progressing to industrial. It's not often that there are multi-panels in one frame. I found a write-up from the Plano Profile stating that Exxon commissioned him, so I suppose this is from that collection. Anyjazz may have some of his work on jazz album covers:

Twilight said...

mike ~ I had no idea, initially, who the artist was, couldn't read the signature when we were in the store. I liked the painting just for itself. There was another hanging next to it which I suspect was also by Bart Forbes, it was a head and shoulders portrait of a man with western headgear - looked like an old rancher, and in similar blue-ish washy watercolour tones. That one didn't interest me though. When we got home I Googled around for ages trying to find an artist with initials B.F. - that was all we could make out for sure from the signature. As he was able to justify a run of prints and limited editions we assumed he must be fairly well known, at least in some circles. Eventually I hit on Bart Forbes in my search, and recognised his style from a couple of his works on Google Image.

I hadn't read the piece you've linked before, mike - it's an excellent addition to the information available - thank you! And yes, I think you're right about the commission by Exxon likely being where my print fits in to the story. It'd be good to know whether there are others in similar vein.

I'll ask anyjazz whether he can think of any album cover that could be Forbes' work - his vast collection of LPs, lining our garage wall, would take days to investigate a record at a time! :-)