The Inspiration Behind Steven Lang’s Western Paintings

On-the-Tongue-River
When looking at these glorious paintings, it doesn’t take much of your imagination to transcend into another time and place where Indians, cowboys and millions of wild horses once lived. You can almost feel the tension of a war party, hear the war cry in the breeze that blows the horse’s mane or see the wise look in an old chief’s eyes that can only come from years of experience as he gazes across the painting. That is what artist Steven Lang tries to achieve in his artistic career, bringing these people, animals and events back to life through art.
Steven Lang
Lang says that “Frederic Remington remains to this day one of the most influential western artists in my career.” He received as a Christmas present from his family when he was 12 years old, The Frederic Remington Book by Harold McCracken, in which he would relentlessly copy the famous artists’ work as practice.
Steven with his book, “The Frederic Remington Book”
Steven is also a descendant of Pawnee and Cherokee Indians, so it is easy to see why they are one of his favorite subjects to paint. He also paints cattle and ranch life, explorers, U.S. Cavalry, pioneers, wildlife & landscapes.
 Steven Lang not only paints the lives of the people who first lived in the west — he reenacts it. This is not only an exciting experience, but is also a treasure chest for of inspiring ideas, culture and way of life that he can transport into his paintings. “ I firmly believe that having an experiential knowledge of Plains Indian culture, western frontier life and America’s beautiful landscapes has enabled me to create oil on canvas images that reflect the legacy of the American West.”
Steven Lang has had articles/interviews about his art and reenactments in magazines such as: Southwest Art and Art of the West. He has also won numerous awards and many achievements as an artist: In November of 2002, Lang was selected to be an Oil Painters of America Master signature member. He says, “ to be recognized as an oil painting master is the culmination of a lot of hard work, personal sacrifice and dedication to the world of fine western art.”

 He was commissioned to paint a painting for the National Park Service at the Washita Historic Site in Cheyenne, Oklahoma in 2003. The painting depicts The 1868 Battle of the Washita and has been called a “ superior work of art “ by Department of the Interior officials.

 

He has also received the Phippen Foundation Award for his painting “Home on the Range” at the Phippen Western Art Show held in Prescott, Arizona. To see more, go here.
 You can visit Steven Lang’s site here for more information.
TFS: Can you tell us more about how you got involved with western art?
SL: After 25 years in Commercial Illustration and Advertising I felt with computer graphics taking over that the demand for illustration would diminish.  So I saw the writing on the wall and made the decision in 1996 to make that leap into Fine Western Art.  I have always had an affinity and love for Western Art and felt I should pursue success as a Western Artist.
TFS: Have you always painted horses in the west?
SL: Yes, horses go hand in hand with the Old and New West. Horses have always been a major component in my paintings because so much western historical imagery revolves around them. Besides I rather enjoy painting them.
TFS: Do you ride? Have you always been around horses?
SL: Yes, I ride. In 1994 I became a part of a Native American re-enactment group where we immerse ourselves for a week in 1860’s Native American Culture and which horses play a main part.  So I have been riding basically since 1994. I would like to ride more than once a year but my painting schedule prohibits me from doing so.
TFS: Have you ever created art for a poster for a horse show/event?
SL: Back in 2013 one of my paintings was selected for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It depicts the bronco riding aspect of a rodeo.
TFS: Any upcoming art shows/exhibits?
SL: I participate in art shows year round.  My next major exhibit is the Oil Painters of America National Show which I do every year.  I am an Oil Painters of America Master Signature Member and am happy to exhibit a painting for each show.
TFS: Where can people go to see your art?
SL: People can see my art in a multitude of places.  They can see my artwork on line at www.langart.com and on Facebook under Lang Fine Western Art.  Also I am in 15+ shows per year and people can view additional works through the galleries which represent me.

TFS: Did you go to art school or are you self taught?

SL:  I took 2 years of college at San Jose State in California with a major in art and studied under Ray Brose. For the most part I am self taught. I have been drawing since I’ve been in diapers. The major influence in regards to my art has been a book on noted western artist Frederic Remington which I was given by my parents when I was 12 years old. I redrew a lot of his paintings over and over and that has led me to where I am at today.

TFS: Can you tell us more about your style?
SL: The influences on my art are Frederick Remington, Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth and Harold Von Schmidt. I try and incorporate a little of the imagery from those artists in my paintings.  I like to think my technique is my own.
TFS: Do your ever paint live? Or do you stick to using reference photos?
SL: No, I do not paint plein air.  I use photographs and my imagination. I’ve never relied on a photo to have all the elements that I need in a painting.
TFS: Are there any artists/people that inspire you with your art or that you admire for something?
SL:  As I stated above I do have my artistic inspirations and there are plenty of current artists whom I admire.  I enjoy looking at artwork that is well executed, that has great use of color and depicts a story well.

TFS: Are there any Indian artists that inspire you?

SL: Allan Houser (Apache) was a sculptor that passed away a few years ago. His work is inspiring for it’s simplicity of form.

TFS: Any wise words for other artists?

SL:  Be true to yourself and how you envision what you are trying to convey in your artwork.  To become good at anything takes discipline, dedication and hard work.  Art is no different.  So apply yourself as much as you can to your craft. Look closely at the paintings of others  when you can. Study their technique, try to emulate them, adopt something from each and make it your own.
TFS: What are the ways you find most useful for promoting your art?
SL: Through print media, social media, galleries and art shows.  I try to do as much as possible, the only constraints being the number of paintings I can produce in a year, which is about 40.
TFS: Is there something that you would like to paint but haven’t?
SL:  As an avid reader of history, I would like to paint historical events of 1-4 thousand years ago. I think that would be pretty exciting and challenging. I enjoy wildlife, fantasy and seascapes as well. At some point in my career I hope I can depart from my current focus and try different genres.
TFS: Do you ever use your horses as models?
SL: I do not own any horses, but I have plenty of friends that do own them.  What is good about the horses I use is that they are period correct.  What I mean by this is that in the Old West a lot of the horses were Spanish Mustangs and I have access to them. This gives me the accuracy and authenticity which I’m known for.
When-Days-Were-Good
TFS: Are you planning on making a coffee table book featuring your art?

SL:  Eventually I would like to have a book on me and my art. I feel that I have a visual story to tell and that my work would be an inspiration. I have a library of coffee table artists books and I always refer to them for inspiration. Looking at other art is good for the imagination.

TFS: Why did you choose to study with R. S. Riddick and Jim Norton?

SL:  Besides Riddick and Norton I’ve also studied with Martin Grelle and Bruce Greene, also with the Cowboy Artists of America CAA. I studied with them because they are CAA artists and have reached the top in the western art field which happens to be my goal. I also studied with them to develop friendships as they are a close knit group and are there for each other artistically.

Hanta-Yo

TFS: You mentioned that your wife and family stands behind you and supports your artistic career. Does any of your family members create art as well?

SL: My wife is artistically inclined and she shines doing bead-work. My mother and father drew when they were younger and I feel that my artistic ability came in part from them. I am blessed to be able make a living as an artist and I hope to continue to paint what I love- Cowboys, Indians and Horses.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Steven! looking forward to reading about your future art adventures. I would love to have a book of your art and get inspired by it! I am sure others would too.

High-Plains-Conflict

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