Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Geri Dunn, Pencil Art. #WesternArtWednesday

Today I have the honor of introducing yet another great artist! (Its so tough having to immerse myself in great art every week I tell ya... ;) )
But you don't want to hear from me, so here is

Geri Dunn!

- Life Story/How did you get introduced to art/How did I get started:

I simply love what I do and I knew that from a very young age.   I am inspired by the simple beauty that
surrounds me.

Born in Lawndale, California, I moved with my family in the late 70's to the Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara. I took up drawing with a pencil the summer I turned 9 and was captivated by a natural gift to draw whatever I laid my eyes on. When I turned 18, I set my artwork aside. 10 years later, after marrying my best friend, I picked up the pencils again, and forgot how much I loved drawing.  I found the direction and passion that influences my artwork today.

Although I have had no formal training in the arts, I have been greatly influenced by Robert "Shoofly" Shufelt
and Frank McCarthy.  All of my drawings are carefully thought out months before the pencil ever hits the paper.
I use a wide range of graphite drafting pencils to create each piece of work.  Each blank piece of paper is carefully
selected to make sure there are no flaws within the paper.  I choose Bristol Board paper, with a Vellum finish, and skillfully develop several layers of graphite to create the illusion of depth and realism in each drawing.

I knew at an early age that my passion was art. My interest in the West manifested itself through
childhood drawings, and impressions gathered while growing up in a small town, rich with
ranching history. A self-confessed dreamer, I strive to go beyond just the basic techniques of
drawing, trying to convey the mood and feeling of the subject within all of my drawings.  I hope
that my pencil drawings make the art come to life.  In doing so, I want my sensitivity and
painstaking eye for detail to give my work a depth and dimension that is truly unique.
I am actively involved with the American Plains Artist Society , Women Artists of the West
and Southwestern Premier Artists.

"Taking a Break"  16"x22" This was one of my earlier pieces, created in 2011, but still my all-time favorite drawing. I had promised a few high school girls who were competing in the local Gymkhana events that I would take photos of them competing.  It was a very warm summer day, with very little shade, and it was sure dusty. One of the girls let their horse stray under the Spanish Oak tree while they went to take a break. This horse was an amazing athlete - he could easily turn on a dime, and you could tell when he ran, he absolutely loved going fast. His coloring was so beautiful, and the way the shadows danced upon him that day under the shade tree - I could only hope to recreate this beauty. I waited for several years before I convinced myself I had the ability to capture the beauty of this moment. Whenever I see this drawing, it takes me back to that dusty, warm day

Day Job (if other than art) Due to personal reasons, I currently am working a full time job, with the Dept of Education. Due to the nature of my business, I would rather not discuss this since there's not much I can say about it for security reasons. Eventually when things get back on track, my plan is to pick back up where I left off a year ago, pursuing my art career with full vigor.

"New Paint"  11"x14" Most of my drawings this size take an average of 80-120 hours to accomplish. "Fresh Paint" takes me back to a treasured memory, now several years old. I used to live on a horse ranch, sandwiched in between several horse ranches, with varying horse breeds. The ranches were interconnected, so you could walk from one ranch to another without having to go out to the main road. From my front door, my little Sheltie and I would walk throughout these ranches, past the Icelandic horses, Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses and finally to my favorite - the paint horses. Late Spring was a perfect time to watch the babies being frisky in the back pastures, sun bathing and grazing next to mama.  Maybe because this scene played itself out so often, when I started this drawing, I completed it in just 8 hours

Tell me about your subject matter, (ie just horses, just buckaroo style, rodeo etc. ) My subject matter works itself around the western lifestyle, which includes cowboys, cattle gatherings and horses.

"Cool & Composed"  11"x14" Many of my drawings take a "snapshot" of a piece of the action. Such is the case with this drawing. I love putting in the small details of the drawing, especially the shadows playing across the gloves, the ribs of the rope, and the weathered jean shirt. It takes a closer look at an everyday image for those gathering cattle. During a cattle gathering, there is so much taking place, it becomes a blur of activity. This snapshot drawing creates a closer inspection of the calm, cool, composed nature required to get the job done efficiently. This piece was recently accepted in the Bosque Museum Art Show located in Clifton, Texas.

- What advice would you give to someone just getting started as an artist? The hardest thing any artist wants to hear is their work is not perfect. It requires patience, practice and a lot of hard work. The best thing any artist can do is to solicit feedback from other artists - preferably during a time when it works best for the artist you are reaching out to. For instance, if you meet an artist at a local art festival, this would be a good time to meet them, make contact discussing a better time to connect with them. This would not be a good time to bring your entire portfolio to the art festival for a critique session, since that artist is trying to scratch out a living that weekend at the festival. Be courteous, and follow up after the art festival. Finally, never quit learning - never quit pushing yourself. As an artist if we don't grow, we become stagnant and dissatisfied in the whole process of creating art.

"Brotherly Love"  16"x22" This is one of my favorite pieces. My very talented cousin, Brianna Burkett took the picture of her horses right before leaving to go for a ride. The love between these two brothers is very evident. I love the graceful arch of the horses neck, and the simplicity of this composition. To make my artwork "pop" off the paper, I incorporate a lot of dark tones next to very light tones. This contrast has the effect of creating depth. This drawing is a perfect example of utilizing all shades of graphite pencils to create this effect. This piece was recently accepted into the AQHA "Horses in Art" Museum Show located in Amarillo, Texas.

"Four Irons in the Fire"  8"x10" Quite often, I'm amazed to talk with people who don't understand black and white graphite drawings. What I've discovered is some people really can't see color when looking at something black and white. Such is the case with this drawing. At a recent art festival, the person I was talking to couldn't see the grayish-black smoke wafting around the branding irons. They insisted there was no orange or yellow in the flames licking out of the wood stacked at the heart of the fire. When I look at this drawing, taken from a local branding, I see the shades of gray as the fire takes hold. I catch myself almost mesmerized, watching the flickering yellow, oranges and reds dancing within the irons and reaching skyward. I recall the exact shades of that day, as well as the sounds and smells that brings a smile to my face, and takes me to the place where I call home. As an artist, I hope that others get caught up in my drawings and it takes them to a place that makes them feel happy and free.

.Where can people find you online? I am located on Facebook, Twitter (@Geri_Dunn ), and my website,, as well as my blog: Shades of Graphite
Get the story behind every drawing. Visit my blog!!!Want to see what's new? Where I'll be next? Enjoy viewing my website

 If you liked today's #WesternArtWednesday post be sure to check out the #WesternArtWednesday index page to see past features! Sign up for the Cowgirl Mama newsletter up on the right side of the page so you'll never miss another post

1 comment:

  1. Geri, you are amazing! I so enjoy whenever I see any of your work and try to figure out how you bring to life your objects.

    Keep it up! Donna Hudak

    Donna Hudak