Posted 6/27/12 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
“Talent will only get you so far,” states Miles Bendixson, a wildlife painter and Watford City native who unveiled his newest original painting, ‘Prairie Peace,’ at Watford City’s Art in the Park last Friday.
Prairie Peace is a striking painting that depicts a bull buffalo asleep with snow-capped mountain peaks in the background. Viewed from any angle, it is a majestic piece that all can truly enjoy.
Bendixson, though a very talented self-taught artist, admits that his talent wasn’t enough.
“As an artist, I was not up to the task of tackling this painting,” states Bendixson. “I didn’t have the technique or skill level, at the time, necessary for this challenge.”
The time Bendixson is referring to is 1995, when he first saw the 35mm slide that inspired his painting.
“Wildlife painters are often criticized for making their paintings look like photographs and not being original enough,” states Bendixson. “To truly be unique, you have to take the animal and paint him in different surroundings, then adjust the animal’s coloring to match the new surroundings. You can’t just copy a photograph, you have to make it a new piece of art that is all your own. The art world is very competitive. To succeed, you have to produce art that will get noticed.”
In addition, greedy printers who have corrupted the limited-edition print market and consumers hit by a down-turned economy make succeeding as an artist that much more difficult.
Bendixson knew all this at the time, and though he was biting off more than he could chew, and though he knew it was a risk to even attempt it in such an unsteady industry, he bought the photograph anyway and set a goal to put on canvas what was in his head.
In 1995, 1996 and 1998, Bendixson attended three different workshops in Jackson Hole, Wyo., taught by a well-known artist. He gained experience and technique that he didn’t have and fine-tuned the abilities that he did have. These sessions gave him a starting point for the project that would become, ‘Prairie Peace.’
In 2009, he officially began working on the painting in-between the time he spent working his regular job as a freelance commercial artist.
“It is by far the most difficult painting I have ever done,” states Bendixson. “You have no idea how difficult it is to have something like this waiting for you, after you’re tired from work. It just stares at you, and when you spend so much time working on something like this, and you run into mental block after mental block and it’s still not done, it’s very tempting to give up.”
According to Bendixson, were it not for the workshops he attended and the technique he acquired through them, he would not have been able to paint ‘Prairie Peace.’
He completed the painting one week before its scheduled unveiling, and dedicated it to the memory of his mother, Lorraine Bendixson, who passed away last October after being diagnosed with cancer in August of 2011.