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 Bill Anton  (1957 - )

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Lived/Active: Arizona/Illinois      Known for: cowboy genre-nocturne and landscape painting

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Ad Code: 2
Bill Anton
from Auction House Records.
Warming Up
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Bill Anton became a western painter, especially of the lifestyle of cowboys. He first traveled West at age seven. He attended Loyola University in Chicago and then transferred to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, majoring in English. He settled in Arizona, and his wife, Peggy, supported him while he established his career as an artist.

He was inspired with western painting when he attended a Cowboy Artist of American Exhibition in the late 1970s at the Phoenix Art Museum. In 1982, he turned to art full time, and visiting ranches in Flagstaff and Prescott, he rode in roundups and learned to work with cattle. He also developed a love of plein-air painting and was much inspired by the work of Anders Zorn, Edgar Payne and Frank Tenney Johnson.

"Prix de West" 2003 catalogue

Anton attended the Scottsdale Artists' School and succeeded painting cowboy genre paintings.

Biography from Whistle Pik Galleries:
Bill Anton was born in Chicago in 1957 and later moved to Prescott, Arizona. He graduated from Northern Arizona University. Later, after committing to painting full-time, he studied under Michael Lynch and Ned Jacob, who encouraged him to paint from life. “While the nature of my work necessitates much studio time, more and more of my painting is done outside.”

Anton’s work has been published in Southwest Art, Architectural Digest, Art of the West, Equine Images, Western Horseman and Art-Talk. Corporate collections that include his work are Sears, Dupont, State Farm Insurance, Bank of America, Hewlett Packard, and Trust Company of the West. His award winning work has been displayed at the Prix de West at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Masters of the American West at The Autry Museum, The National Center for American Western Art, the Old West Museum, and The National Museum of Wildlife Art.

In addition, his work is in the permanent collection of the Gilcrease Museum.

Artist Statement:
"I do not see myself as a biographer of the cowboy. I know some artists feel they are recording history on the ranches as life there is today, but the focus of my work has always been mood and passion. If I’m recording anything, I’m recording how I feel about the west. I want the viewer to feel the drama of atmosphere and the mystery of a western night. I want the volume and portent of a cloud to be evident in the calligraphy of a brushstroke. The pack of muscle below a horse’s shoulder should be energized by a gestural application of paint. You see, I love to paint. And I love the American west. I was born in Chicago, but the Sierra Nevada, Sangre de Cristo, Sawatch and a hundred other ranges of our rocky mountains were the only 'Big Shoulders I was ever interested in. Walking thunderstorms, sunstruck cedars, rim rock and artfully abstract water patterns charge the landscape with impossible beauty. Amidst this nobility is its caretaker: the rancher.  With the natural ease of generations bred to the saddle, he is a powerful image further ennobled by a fine horse. An artist under the spell of the west has the privilege of marshalling the virtues of landscape, figure and equine painting into one supremely paintable subject: the American cowboy.” - Bill Anton

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:
After seeing the American west for the first time as a seven year old, Bill Anton vowed to return for good someday. He left his home in the Midwest some 12 years later and the Arizona high country has been home ever since. Exposed to art early and often, Anton drew constantly from the time he was old enough to hold a pencil. Inevitably, his two great loves in life united when he turned to western art full time in 1982.

Visiting ranches around Flagstaff and Prescott, he began to ride roundups, brand calves, and helped pregnancy test, vaccinate, and ship cows. Local ranchers began calling him when they were short handed, although Anton never counted himself good enough to be called “a cowboy,” he says.

After several years of making a living as an artist, he began getting national exposure, but wasn’t satisfied with the progress of his work. Through the influence of some of the country’s best painters, he realized painting outside from life was the only way he would see the artistic growth he wanted. And the passion and spontaneity needed for plein air painting began to help him solve problems in the studio as well. Drawn to the work of Zorn, Sorolla, Payne, and Frank Tenney Johnson, Anton works from field studies whenever possible to achieve the vitality photos cannot match.

Anton’s paintings reflect his fascination with the cowboy lifestyle. In an interview in Art of the West, he said, “The cowboy is connected with the land, like a ponderosa pine. He is unassuming, but he can do anything. He is amazing. A painting all starts with my own reverence and excitement with that person on horseback. I never get tired of the nobility of a man on horseback.”

Prix de West, 2002 Invitational Exhibition Catalog

Biography from Debbie Leeuw Fine Art:
Bill Anton paints and draws today's working cowboy. Inspired by the work of Anders Zorn, Sorolla, Edgar Payne and Frank Tenney Johnson, Bill works from field studies whenever possible to achieve the vitality photos cannot match.

Working primarily in oil, he can always be found in one of three places - the studio, a ranch or painting outdoors.

Bill Anton's work is in corporate collections including those of Sears, Dupont, State Farm Insurance, Bank of America, Hewlett Packard and Trust Company of the West.

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