Carl Rungius

Carl Rungius
Armand Cabrera

Carl Rungius was primarily known as a painter of big game. His fidelity to painting directly from life cannot be ignored and puts him at the top of the list as an outdoor painter. His depictions of the Canadian Rockies have not been surpassed to this day.

Carl Rungius was born in Germany in 1869. From an early age, he was determined to become an artist. His father, a pastor, wanted him to become a minister, but the young Carl refused and his father eventually relented. He studied at the Berlin Art Academy. Carl was enrolled in design and figure classes but found time to sketch at the zoo. Eventually, he assembled a portfolio of animal drawings and submitted them to Paul Mayerheim, the professor of animal drawing and painting at the Academy.

After studying at the academy, Carl stayed with his parents. His prospects for a successful career in art seemed slim until he was invited to visit his uncle in America. The trip would change Rungius’s life forever. At a sportsman show in New York, Carl met Ira Dodge, a Wyoming guide. Dodge invited Carl to come to Wyoming to experience American big game, first hand. This invitation was the opportunity the young painter needed. He would often make studies from the animals he shot—posing them with ropes back in his camp.

In New York, William Hornaday, the first director of the New York Zoological society, discovered Rungius. Hornaday introduced the artist to the wealthy patrons who were critical to Runguis’s success in his career. Hornaday was responsible for many of Rungius commissions in the following years. He also introduced him to the lucrative world of illustration, which was in its golden age.

While Carl was living with his uncle in New York he became close with his cousin Louise. After she graduated from Columbia University, the two married.

Carl Rungius was concerned that his focus on wildlife was hurting his reputation as a serious painter. To remedy this, he began focusing on the landscape and entering national shows. His trips to the Canadian Rockies helped influence this change of focus. As he matured, Rungius changed his painting style, moving away from the academic approach he was taught in Germany. His palette lightened and he incorporated many aspects of Impressionism into his painting.

Carl Rungius died of a stroke at his easel in 1959.

Carl Rungius Painter of the Western WildernessJohn Whyte and E. J. Hart

Fifty Years with Brush and RifleWilliam Shaldach

Carl Rungius Artist and Sportsman
Glenbow Museum

Carl Rungius: The Complete Prints. A Catalog RaisonneDonald E. Crouch

“You have to keep painting outdoors; if you paint outdoor scenes in your studio your color invariably gets too warm, too hot. Only if you paint outdoors do you see the cool silvery tones that are the true colors of nature.” -Carl Rungius

Wilhem Kuhnert

Wilhem Kuhnert
Armand Cabrera
Wilhelm Kuhnert was born in Germany on September 28, 1865. At the age of seventeen, he traveled to Berlin to stay with relatives and enroll at the Royal Academy of Berlin. While at the Academy, he studied Animal Painting under Paul Meyerheim and Landscape Painting under Ferdinand Bellerman. Although considerable attention was paid to studying anatomy, the students would sketch captive animals in a zoo and then make formal paintings in their studio—making up the environments from the artists’ imagination. Kuhnert decided to change this. After seeing some African animals at a fair, the young artist vowed to travel to Africa and paint animals in their native habitat.

Upon leaving the Royal Academy, he acquired a studio in Berlin. While Kuhnert was sketching at the Berlin Zoo, he was introduced to Hans Meyer, the first European to climb Kilimanjaro. Meyer was impressed with Kuhnert’s ability and promised the young artist the chance to illustrate his next book. Kuhnert told Meyer of his goal of traveling to Africa to paint the animals in their natural settings. Meyer suggested he travel to East Africa and even gave Kuhnert his safari equipment.

Good to his word, Meyer commissioned Kuhnert to illustrate Brehms Tierbuilder, a dictionary of animals from around the world. With the proceeds from the book, Kuhnert traveled to Africa in 1891.

At that time, the East African Colony was a vast, unexplored territory for most Germans. Kuhnert traveled the only way available—accompanied by a score of men to act as guides and carry the hundreds of pounds of gear and supplies needed for such a journey. A year later, he returned to Germany with dozens of paintings, sketches and drawings of the African animals, people and places.
In 1893, Kuhnert’s paintings went on display at the Berliner Art Exhibition and he took the Medal of Honor. The public responded to his truthful depictions of the great continent. At only 28 years of age, Kuhnert’s success seemed assured.

He married in 1894 and moved to a larger studio. The attraction of Africa could not keep him home, so in 1905, he left his wife and daughter and returned to what he called “The Promised Land”. After a year on the continent, rather than returning home, he traveled to Ceylon. Unable to stand his long absences, his wife left him in 1907. Kuhnert finally returned to Germany in 1908.

He returned to Africa once more in 1911. Two years later, he remarried. In 1920, Kuhnert published two books on African Wildlife—“Im Lande Meiner Modelle” (in the Land of My Model) and “Mein Tierre” (My Animals). He died February 11, 1926 at the age of 60—five months after his second wife had passed away.

It is believed Kuhnert’s body of work totaled 5,500 paintings—primarily animals, but also portraits and landscapes. Today, there are less than a thousand known works in existence. The rest of his paintings were destroyed or lost in World War II.


The Animal Art of Wilhelm KuhnertTerry Weiland
Live Oak press 1995


Wilhelm Kuhnert’s Achievements can be measured by more than just aesthetics. His Greatest merit was that he was the first artist to paint wild animals in their natural habitat. ~Fritz Meyer-Schoenbrunn in his introduction to Kuhnert’s second book, Meine Tiere (My Animals)

Dean Cornwell

Armand Cabrera
(All images Dean Cornwell)

Dean Cornwell was born on March 5th 1892 in Louisville, Kentucky.
He first worked as a cartoonist for the Louisville Herald. After leaving Louisville he moved to Chicago. It was there he had the chance to meet many New York illustrators and decided he would become one himself. He moved to New York at the age of 23 and enrolled in the Art Students League.

At the League he met Harvey Dunn who had started a summer class in Leona, New Jersey. Under Dunn’s tutelage Cornwell’s work took on new dimensions and became more painterly and dramatic. Many of the other students who were successful illustrators in their own right were amazed at the transformation. When asked, Harvey Dunn said “Cornwell was already an accomplished illustrator and only needed to be shown the way.” Cornwell acknowledged his teacher by saying “I gratefully look back on the time I sat at Harvey Dunn’s feet. He taught art and illustration as one. He taught it as religion-or awfully close to such.”

After studying with Dunn, the young Cornwell quickly became a success. Cornwell always had a strong work ethic. Seventeen hour days, seven days a week was not an unusual schedule for him; a practice he kept even after becoming one of the best illustrators in the country. He married in 1918 but Cornwell’s constant extramarital affairs caused the couple to separate after just a few years of marriage, though they never divorced and had two children.

In the 1920’s Cornwell was at the height of his abilities as an illustrator. He was elected president of the Society of Illustrators in 1922 and held the office for three years. In 1923 he helped Russian artist Nicholai Fechin find a place in New York and studied with him for several months.

In 1926 Cornwell signed a long term contract with Cosmopolitan that allowed him to earn a $100, 00.00 a year. In 1927 he decided to devote the rest of his life to mural painting and began studying mural painting with Frank Brangwyn in England for three years. He continued his illustration work whenever he needed money.

According to Cornwell he rarely made money from his mural commissions and just barely covered expenses. By 1940 he was one of the most popular muralists in the country. Although he continued illustrating for the rest of his life completing over 1000 illustrations for clients during his career, he considered himself a muralist, finishing over twenty murals in his lifetime.

Dean Cornwell died at the age of 68 of complications from the rupture of a main artery.


Dean Cornwell Dean of Illustrators
Patricia Broder
Balance House Limited 1978

Forty Illustrators and How They Work
Ernest Watson
Watson Guptill Publications 1946

Illustrating for the Saturday Evening Post
Ashley Halsey Jr.
Arlington House 1951

A great colorist is known for their grays just as a chef is known for their gravies and sauces. The grays are the sauces that flavor all the other colors on the canvas. ~Dean Cornwell

Gallery Contracts


Armand Cabrera

When negotiating with a gallery, make sure you have a written contract. Honest people realize a contract protects both parties involved; if it is worth discussing it is worth putting in writing. Never assume anything about a business or people you don’t know. Not everyone will agree on what is fair and what is not.

Don’t let contracts put you off. While it is possible to have a successful partnership without a contract, by not having one you risk the loss of your inventory to unscrupulous people or unforeseen circumstances. Remember, you can agree to anything you like. A contract is just the written form of that agreement nothing more.

Contract items should include who pays for shipping artwork to and from the artist, framing, advertising and mailings. Negotiate what the commission percentage is for the gallery and how much they can discount, if at all. Set the retail price for your work. Make sure the gallery has a time limit on when they pay. A good gallery should pay immediately and no later than two weeks. Art work is consigned, it is your money and they have no right to hold it without your permission.

Decide with the gallery what their territory will be. Include the right to show in one or two group shows a year that might be in that area through a Museum or art organization. Paintings consigned to the gallery should always be hung in the showroom not stored in the back. State these things in writing.

A clause to dissolve the agreement between the two parties is also necessary. It should state clearly how much notice is needed to terminate the contract and how any unpaid money or debt is handled. Once you sign an agreement you are bound by the terms. This means not undercutting your sales and prices.Limit the terms of the contract to one or two years maximum. Some galleries have a hard time with an artist’s success as much as their lack of it and you will outgrow some of your galleries as your prices increase. It has been my experience that there are willing buyers for quality work at every price level. Don’t be afraid to move on if you feel the gallery is holding you back. My belief is the marketplace will let you know if you are doing the right thing.

Red Wolf Demo

Armand Cabrera

This is a Step by step demo of a Red Wolf head study I did for an art forum I frequent. Someone on the forum was wondering how to paint fur. I thought I would repost it here too, so I apologize if you’ve already seen it. The photo was taken by me when I was out in California at one of the zoo’s there.
The size of this painting is 10×12 inches and I am working in oils; my palette consists of Viridian, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Permanent, Cad Red Light, Cad Yellow Light, and Titanium White

The first thing I did was draw the contour of the wolf with a brush getting the general shape down quickly.

Then I looked for the big color and value changes and blocked those in ignoring details and edge quality at this point.

Next I start to modify those big shapes by adjusting the smaller changes within them and paying attention to their edges.

The last thing I do is scrub in a background so I can paint the highlights and paint the details and refine the proportions where I think they need it. I am not really trying to paint any differently than when I paint a landscape. While there is a little more accuracy involved here, the approach is basically the same for whatever subject I tackle.

Complete time for this is two hours. These types of exercises are great for practice; changing subject matter is a good way to apply the ideas of picture making that you have developed. If your ideas have any veracity they should work for any subject matter. If not they are most likely a formula and should be re-thought or discarded for something more universal.