Monday, October 21, 2013

Why Andy Paints in Oils

Dusty Bronc

Andy Thomas is an immensely talented oil painter. His paintings capture the viewers eye and release their imagination. If you own an Andy Thomas piece, then you know exactly what I mean. A story lies in every image, sometimes Andy provides us with a story and other times it's completely up to the viewer, but either way, there is always a story to be told. Andy manages to surprise his audience every time with his action packed oil paintings.

Ever wonder why Andy paints with oils rather than other mediums? I conducted a short interview with Andy to find out why... Here it is!

1. Why do you paint in oils vs other mediums, such as watercolors or acrylics?

"I originally started painting in oils because they are so challenging. I wanted to learn to master the medium. I like all mediums but I primarily stick with oil now because:

1. They allow me to paint the narrative, storytelling paintings I want to paint.
2. They dry slow so I can blend and create the buttery, sculpted forms I like.
3. My favorite paints and artists all use oil.
4. Frankly, oil paintings, as a rule, can demand higher prices."

2. What type of oil paints do you use?

"I use Gamblin Brand. The various brands confused me so I settled on Gamblin after Robert Gamblin, when he owned the company, personally answered an inquiry I sent. Any brand that is color-fast is good."

3. How often do you paint with acrylics or watercolors?

"I almost never use acrylic, except to help kids with school projects or around the house. Acrylics dry too fast for me. I like to paint wet-in-wet. Also, with my forgetful nature, I'd ruin dozens of brushes every month by letting paint dry in the bristles. I really enjoy watercolors, especially loose wet-in-wet techniques. I rarely paint in watercolors for paintings to sell. I use them for gifts to family members or special note cards."

4. Will we ever see a large piece painted in something other than oil? Would it be hard for you to create a large western painting in something other than oil?

"No, any large piece I paint will be in oil. Painting large areas would be hit-or-miss for me in any medium except oil."

5. Do you feel there is a difference in quality with oil paints vs. other mediums? How does painting in oils benefit your paintings?

"Yes, I think there is a difference. I think oils allow me the flexibility to paint thick and thin and control the color hue and intensity. Also, oils can be magnificently painted with translucence, though I rarely use them that way. That being said, I see great works painted by other artists in all manner of media."

6. Do you feel oils provide more color and depth for your paintings?

"Yes, color and depth are better for me with oil."

7. What medium do you think is hardest for a beginner to paint with? What would you recommend?

"Oil and watercolor both need some practice of techniques to master their great qualities. Personally, I thought watercolor techniques (wet-in-wet, deep color washes, dry-brush  etc), were easier to learn. It might be different with other people. The great seductive quality about acrylics is the ease of which a beginner can paint. You can paint something and, if you don't like it, wait five minutes and repaint on a dry surface. In my painting experience, acrylic can't do the fluid washes of watercolor or the impasto brush strokes of oil."

8. Are oils better for blending as opposed to acrylics?

"Oils blend better than acrylics, in my experience. Or maybe I just don't work fast enough for acrylic."

9. What's your favorite part about working with oils?

"Oils dry slowly and I learned to enjoy painting wet-in-wet. Sometimes I will lay down a brush stroke and modify it (scrape it, blend an edge, drag a dry brush over it) an hour or two later. I usually do fast under painting, very direct and impasto, and then spend some time changing the edges, mostly obscuring them so I can put in the edges I want in the finished painting."

"This has been all about painting, but I would like to mention my affinity for drawing. Pencil, charcoal and pen-and-ink are great mediums. Drawing is the basis of all good painting."

If you have any questions for Andy, leave them in the comments below. Maybe I'll be able to get Andy to do an interview based on your questions!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quest for the West Art Show

The 7th annual Quest for the West Art Show hosted by Eiteljorg Museum is right around the corner. The Quest will showcase Western art by 50 of the most talented artists in America. All pieces will be original works of art! It will be held September 6-7, 2013 by a "luck of the draw" sale, which will leave a mystery as to who will take each piece home.

Last year, Andy's painting, George Catlin Painting Four Bears, a 40"x30" oil featured an Indian tribe admiring the Mandan Chief, Four Bears, whose attire is covered in beautiful feathers, posing, while artist George Catlin paints him. This year Andy's painting will include Pursued 20"x16 oil and Trouble Ahead 24"x36" oil, which are two suspense filled western paintings.

George Catlin Painting Four Bears

Pursued shows a brave mother and very scared child on an all white horse galloping away from the approaching danger behind them. In the background, you can vaguely see men on horses trying to pursue this woman. She has her whip in hand and her child is tightly grasping on. She's making a run for it. I wonder what she must of done.... I wonder if she'll get away...?


With Trouble Ahead,  the story of what lies ahead may be different from viewer to viewer. One thing's for sure, trouble is lurking in the distance. In this painting, we can see two cowboys on their horses preparing for the unknown. A child is pointing ahead to warn of danger. A band of wagons as far as the eye can see parades along side single filed. We don't know exactly what's ahead, but we can only imagine it isn't good.

The story of Trouble Ahead goes as follows: As a wagon train of pioneers crawls slowly across the plains, potential danger lies ahead. A party of mounted men is approaching and the wagon train's guide rides out to assess danger. The wagon master turns his attention to his wagons. They must be brought into a tight formation in case of trouble.

Trouble Ahead

Some other artists that will be in attendance at the Quest include, Doug Hyde, sculptor, who will reveal his exhibit, Shaped by Stone: The sculpture of Doug Hyde, opening night; he was also the 2011 Quest Artist of Distinction. John Coleman, who won the 2012 Quest Artist of Distinction and Howard Post, who holds the title of Victor Higgins Award of Distinction for Best Body of Work in the show in 2012. Andy and these 3 artists are among 46 others, so there will be a wide variety of art sure to suit many tastes. To view art from previous shows, click here. To view the rest of the 2013 artists of the Quest, click here.

Registration for couples is $400 for the weekend per couple if you are a member and $450 if you are a non-member. If you plan on attending solo, registration is $250 for members and $350 for non. If you can't make it to the Eiteljorg Museum for this spectacular show, but still want a chance at owning one the great pieces that will be offered, you can register as an absentee buyer for $150. To register, you can contact Kay Hinds via phone, 317- 275- 1341 or email, You may also visit to register.

Please note how this "luck of the draw" sale will operate- You will have an opportunity to place ballots in a box correspondent to the painting of your choice. If your name is chosen first, you can either accept or pass. If 2 passes happen, then the 3rd person will be responsible for buying the painting. It is a fixed price sale. Absentee buyers will be notified by phone or email of their winnings.

Come join the fun, meet talented artists and have your chance of winning a wonderful piece of your liking.

Click here to view a video on Quest for the West.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Some people that visit Andy's site to purchase a reproduction and have questions about the lingo used in the descriptions. Frequently, questions are asked by new collectors or someone just purchasing a gift for a collector, what some of the terms listed below means. I decided to compile those questions so there's no confusion. If you have any additional questions or confusion about a product description, leave it in the comments below and I'll be sure to add it to the list!

What does AP mean?

AP refers to Artist Proofs, which go back to the days of hand made presses. The artist would actually crank the crank, print the print and check the colors. If they didn't like the red, they changed it; they made these adjustments until the print was to their liking. They were truly proofs. Today, they are a tradition since technology has made huge changes in the printing industry.

AP's are a limited edition that make up about 10%-15% of the signed and numbered edition of the same image and size. If 350 signed and numbered prints are made in a specific size, only about 35 artist proofs are created for that particular size. Each artist proof is numbered similar to this 20/35AP and signed as well.

What does S/N mean?

S/N refers Signed and Numbered prints, which means exactly that -- they are signed and they are numbered. Each reproduction that is S/N is limited in edition. Each S/N reproduction would look similar to this 20/300 and signed.

Should I purchase an AP or S/N reproduction?

Ultimately the decision is yours, some collectors feel as though an AP print will be more valuable in the long run since not many are produced compared to S/N editions. While that could be true, it also depends on the market at the time.

Is there a difference is quality between AP and S/N reproductions?

No, the quality is exactly the same, created from the same image, same paper and same inks. The only difference is the limited quantity of prints with the AP designation.

What is a Giclee Print?

A Giclee is the printing process used for reproducing a print. Giclee's are individually produced on a special large format printer from a digital scan of existing artwork. They contain bright colors, crisp detail with a high-resolution display.

What is Timeless Edition?

These prints are of an edition, which are signed and sequentially numbered reproductions. They are not limited edition prints, but are numbered in the order that they are produced. Every print will have a different number from each other. They are the same quality as limited edition prints. Example: #24   #25   #26

What is a Large Format Canvas Giclee?

A Large Format Canvas Giclee is something we offer to those of you with large spaces that need to be filled. They are special orders reproduced larger than what is offered on the site. They would be by-quote only depending on the size of the reproduction you would like. Any image on the site can be made to order and some can be made up to 50" high. They are the same quality as the reproductions offered on the site and one of a kind. If you are interested in a quote, you can email

What is Stretched and What is Rolled Canvas?

Stretching is the process of taking a Rolled Canvas and stretching it over a stretcher bar, thin wooden rails, in which the canvas is stapled to. The canvas is then ready to be framed.

A rolled canvas is a canvas that has not been stretched yet. It ships in a tube, rolled up, and would need to be stretched before framing.

What are the benefits of a Stretched Canvas?

Stretched canvases are ready to be hung, no other work is required, other than choosing a frame of your choice. If you were to buy a Rolled Canvas and have it stretched by a third party or yourself, you could have a higher risk of damage, such as the painting cracking during stretching especially if the person is not a professional. I advise against stretching the canvas yourself, unless you are a professional.

What are the benefits of a Rolled Canvas?

Rolled canvas is priced less than stretched canvas, but keep in mind that a rolled canvas will need to be stretched to frame. It is advisable to have a professional framer stretch the canvas when they are making your frame. If a print is larger than 24x36, it will automatically be shipped rolled due to the high cost of shipping. It's also much safer when the print is larger than 24x36.

Do you offer framing for prints?

At this time, you may only purchase some of the Civil War prints framed. If it's not listed in the product pull down menu, then it isn't an option. You will need to supply your own frame for most of the artwork.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Coeur d'Alene Art Auction

UPDATE: Painting sold for $64,350 on July 27, 2013!!!

Billy the Kid and the Regulators are coming to town in Reno this Saturday, that is on Canvas!

This coming Saturday, July 27, 2013, Andy Thomas' Billy the Kid and the Regulators will be up for auction at The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction in Reno, Nevada. 

This painting is a 36x48 oil on linen estimated at $60,000-$90,000 with a starting bid of $45,000. If you can't make the auction and are interested in this painting, there are options for you to place a bid. You can place an absentee/phone bid here. All absentee bids must be entered no later than July 24, 2013, so be sure to make the deadline. (Lot number 125) ArtFact will also allow you to bid online here.

Here is the story of the painting, according to Andy himself: 

"On April Fools Day, 1878, Billy the Kid and six other Regulators ambushed Sheriff William Brady and his deputies on the main street in Lincoln, New Mexico. Brady and Deputy George Hindman were killed. The Regulators shot from behind the adobe, corral wall of John Tunstall's store. Bill and Big Jim French were both wounded by gunfire from the remaining deputies when they briefly emerged to check the bodies. The Regulators extricated themselves by charging out of the corral and riding away along the Bonito River."

The auction will consist of 308 different works of art including, Indians, cowboys and horses, landscape and farming and agriculture, just to name a few. You can check out all the different artwork at here. So many talented artists will be featured in this auction! There will be plenty of variety for every art collector.

Address for Auction:
2707 South Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89502

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

eGift Promotion

Do you have a favorite piece of Andy's you'd love to buy at a discounted price? Such as one of Andy's political pieces like Callin' the Red, Callin' the Blue or Grand Ol' Gang? or maybe a good western or historical reproduction for instance, American Storytellers, Russell Paints a Masterpiece or one of his many Civil War pieces? If so, you're going to love this limited time promotion the website is running.

The website is running a wonderful promotion on eGift Certificates. For every $80 eGift Certificate you purchase, you'll receive an added bonus--$20 extra, free!! Certificates will be limited to three per customer. That's up to $60 in free money to spend at The eGift must be purchased in the 'Sale' category in order to be eligible for the $20 bonus.

Here's how it works, once you purchase your $80 eGift, you'll automatically receive an e-mail with a gift certificate code for the $80. Then, up to 24 hours after your purchase, we will e-mail an additional code valued at $20. You can combine as many eGift codes as you'd like at checkout, so don't be discouraged! While this is one of the best promotions you will see on the site, it does have one slight downfall if you're purchasing one for a gift. The expiration on the codes are only valid for 60 days from issue date.

If a friend or family member that's a fan of Andy's has a birthday coming up, here's your opportunity to get them something truly special at a low price. Or maybe you just want a bargain on one of Andy's pieces for yourself? Whatever the case may be, this is a wonderful promotion that won't last long. It may be gone tomorrow, so take advantage now! If you're looking to buy a large piece that's over $300 this is a great way to save $60.

Food for thought, maybe you have a birthday or special event coming up and you and that special person are both art collectors-- you can always give them the free $20 and buy yourself something with the $80 or vice versa. Or if you know their favorite print, apply it towards the price and get a nice bargain, they'll never know! The possibilities are endless. The West in Action makes a great gift for an art collector!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Who's in that painting?

Did you know many times Andy uses family or friends as a reference for his paintings? In many of his paintings, you may be able to spot people he knows. For instance, 'Fate of the Rustlers,' Andy's step-son, Eric, was photographed to create the unfortunate rustler that was about to be killed.

I received a phone call one day from Andy, he asked me to take a few pictures of Eric with his hands behind his back, as if they were tied together, in dim lighting. He told me he needed a thin, muscular kid for his upcoming painting. I grabbed my cell-phone and took about ten shots, sending Andy the best three. This allowed Andy to paint the muscles on the rustler exactly the way they would be. In the book, The West in Action, available on the website, you can see exactly how the painting was made. Below is a sketch of the rustler Andy created from my photograph. Andy turned my photograph into a sketch, and from there into a beautiful painting. Of course, he made the face of the rustler slightly different than Eric's.

Fate of the Rustlers

Fate of the Rustlers isn't the only painting Andy has used a family member for. In his painting, You can call me Darlin', he referenced his daughter Jessica and her husband Mika. The painting sends the message that cowboys learning the ropes, should never fall in love with a saloon girl! Andy took many pictures of Jess and Mika to get the right look with correct lighting. Mika even wore a cowboy hat for the photograph to ensure Andy would get the proper tilt and stance. They were also photographed on two different levels, just as you see in the painting. Out of many shots, could be hundreds, the best is chosen and incorporated into the painting.

Kit Carson and the Fremont Expedition at Bent's Fort is another painting Andy has used someone for reference; his grandson Colson. The little boy running next to Kit Carson and his army started from a photograph. Andy wanted to make sure when he painted the little boy running, that it would be suitable to reality. He captured shots of Colson running, and was able to perceive the exact approach to take when creating the little boy. Hair, legs and body stance are all critical aspects to perfecting the painting especially when wind is involved. Can you imagine trying to paint or even sketch a person running from memory? It would be a hard task. Below is an actual sketch used for the painting.

Can you guess the people in the painting below, The Band Played On? Follow the link to the website for some clues. You can leave your answers in the blanks at the bottom of the page on the site.

Large paintings are rarely an easy task. Often times hours of research and many photos are required to create something so elaborate. Andy never lets his viewers down and continues to surprise us with his works of art. You never know what you'll see next or who for the matter.

Can you guess which paintings Andy has painted himself into? Stay tuned to find out... Leave your comments below!