-Remington’s Studio, Cody, Wyoming, May 2007, photo © 2007 by skywire. All rights reserved.
The photograph is of the 1890′s studio of the artist, sculptor, painter, and writer, Frederic Remington. You can get a sense of how he liked to create while surrounding himself with found objects, paints, artifacts, and sculpture. Though based in New York, his studio was alive with the energy of the American West; the place and the people held great meaning to him.
Remington was also a writer. And along with producing more than 3,000 drawings and paintings, and 22 bronze sculptures – cast in editions, he wrote two novels – one of which was adapted to the stage – and over 100 magazine articles and stories.
Artist or writer? Many times, the two remain forever connected.
The writing topic this week:
- Choose 1 object from Remington’s Studio
- Start with a 15 minute writing practice on the object
- Take an idea or paragraph from the practice, and write a short piece, 500 words or less
If you want something more complex, choose 3 of the objects and weave them into 1 practice. If you only get as far as the practice, that’s okay. You will have started. And the object you wrote about will have meaning to you, resting in your mind and body until you are ready to do something with it. Or maybe you never will. And it will simply have been an exercise in wild mind.
Below are some facts about Remington that I didn’t know before researching this Writing Topic. It’s good to open to a writer or artist as a person, with a living, breathing past. A person who is much more than the historical image or soundbite, projected in our minds.
- Remington went to Yale, majored in art, and played football, but did not graduate.
- Later in his career, he experimented with the perception of color. He lightened his palette and placed his colors as they would be affected by light.
- He failed as a sheep rancher and then as a saloon owner in Kansas.
- Remington made his first visit West to Montana in 1881; many more trips would follow to New Mexico, Arizona, and elsewhere, west of the Rockies.
- In the mid-1880s, after discovering there was a market for his drawings, he turned to magazine illustration full time. His images were of American Indians, cowboys and the West that he believed to be rapidly disappearing, if it was not already gone.
- By 1887, he was sufficiently famous that another Easterner who loved the West, Theodore Roosevelt, hired him to do the illustrations for his book, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. Roosevelt became a good friend.
- In 1891 he illustrated an edition of Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha.” He also did the illustrations for his own first novel, Pony Traces, in 1895.
- In 1898, Remington traveled to Cuba for the Spanish-American War as a journalist and illustrator. It was not a good experience, and the artist never got over the horror he saw. In “With the Fifth Corps,” his essay about his wartime experiences, he wrote of the Cuban campaign: “One beautiful boy was brought in by two tough, stringy, hairy old soldiers, his head hanging down behind. His shirt was off, and a big red spot shone brilliant against his marblelike skin.”
- In 1900, a year-and-a-half after he returned from Cuba, Remington produced his first two night paintings, The Wolves Sniffed Along the Trail, But Came No Nearer and Pretty Mother of the Night White Otter Is No Longer a Boy, as illustrations for his second novel, The Way of an Indian, a brave’s coming-of-age story.
- In 1908 one of the most prominent writers on art of that time observed in his comments on Remington’s very successful exhibition at Knoedler’s Gallery in New York City that “the mark of the illustrator disappeared and that of the painter took its place.”
- Frederic Remington was 48 years old when he died December 26, 1909 from complications following an appendectomy.
-from the following articles:
- Insight on the News, May 27, 2003 by Stephen Goode
-Frederic Remington and the American Civil War: A Ghost Story
-Frederic Remington Biography from the Buffalo Bill Historical Society in Cody, Wyoming
If you want to know more about Remington, visit the websites; they are loaded with information. The studio reproduction can be found at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. The Center is a combination of five different museums, including the Draper Museum of Natural History and the Plains Indian Museum.
Sunday, July 1st, 2007