Artists We Love
- Written by Allison Carlton
- Published October 01, 2012
Jerry Crandall feels personally obligated to portray the authentic Old West in his art.
“I’d much rather have my style of art criticized than have someone find a flaw in the historical aspect of the painting,” he admits.
His goal is to create a “pretty” picture that is historically accurate. “The famous Schreyvogel painting of Custer is a very well done piece,” he says, “but I cringe every time I look at it, as some of the uniforms are completely inaccurate for the time frame of history depicted.”
One of the reasons why Crandall’s paintings have been collected since 1977 may be due to his insistence that he place himself in real-life scenarios to help him accurately re-create the past.
“If I’m going to do a painting of a cowboy, cavalryman or mountain man, I must experience that lifestyle,” Crandall says. “I want to know what it feels like to take part in a cavalry maneuver riding in a fully-packed McClellan saddle, to hear the clatter of the horse equipment and be in the field for days with very little water and food chasing hostiles.”
Crandall also invests hours — years, sometimes — into researching details for his art. “Tracking down primary sources, including diaries, letters and Indian ledger art, is part of the thrill of historical background research,” he says.
The artist’s passion to dig for accuracy can be traced to his childhood days when he crawled around on his hands and knees, looking for artifacts in the vacant field where Bent’s Fort used to stand, near his birthplace of La Junta, Colorado. In his junior high years, he read about Kit Carson, Jim Bridger and the Bent brothers’ adventures, which continue to inspire him down the...
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