Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Society of Illustrators Profile: Charles Russell

Born in 1864 to an affluent family in Missouri, Charles Marion Russell, had ties to the old West as his great uncles were fur traders who excited the lad with stories of their many adventures. Never a good student, Russell quit school just shy of his 16th birthday and headed for the Montana Territory, soon making friends with cowboys, Indians,  trappers, and traders. During this time he travelled two years with a trapper on hunting expeditions making hundreds of sketches and soon became an expert an animal anatomy. His first job was wrangling at night, as Charles sketched during the day documenting his life as a cowboy and the events of ranch life in the 1890s. Often bartering a sketch to buy a meal or a round of drinks for his friends, Russell saw the Western frontier was quickly changing and decided to take up his paintbrush permanently.  Most adventurous of the Western painters with the use of color, the artist enjoyed the medium of watercolor and the many effects he could achieve. In 1896, Russell married and settled down as his pictures started appearing in the pages of Sports Afield, Field and Stream, and Outing. Soon his illustrations and painting were showcased in more mainstream magazine like McClure's, The Saturday Evening Post, Scribner's and Leslie's Weekly. Now creating for his own pleasure due to his financial success, Russell's paintings and bronzes were sought by collectors and museums alike and are still demanding high prices when offered to the public.


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