About Gordon Snidow
In 1959, after receiving a Bachelors Degree in Art from the Art Center
College of Design, in Los Angeles, I had a career decision to make, whether to
go into advertising art or to follow my dream of painting the West. At the time,
no market existed for realism, let alone Western Art. I decided to follow my
dream. Again I had a decision to make. The choice was whether to paint the Old
West of the past, which I had no first-hand knowledge, or to chronicle
the story of the Contemporary West. I chose the Contemporary West.
If I painted the people and my experiences while visiting ranches, then the
ideas and subjects of the paintings would be mine and accurate. I thought it was
important to record the American West as I witnessed it. Being an eyewitness to
a period of the history of the west, I portrayed real cowboys, working on real
ranches. I accurately showed their lives and times. I realized that their story
continued after the settling of the Old West. I wanted to tell their story.
I eventually saw the West as more than ranching and the American Cowboy. I
began to do paintings which included American Women, Graffiti, the Homeless,
Wildlife, Vietnam Vets, and others, while still painting the American Cowboy.
Because of this, I am now better known as a painter of Western Americana.
To me Western Americana means the expanded reality of the
Contemporary West. A West that is not romanticized in art, as is the Old West,
but the real West of today. Why realism? Since I was painting real people and
animals, I wanted to show various types in order to better express my painting
ideas. For over fifty years, I have painted the Contemporary American West as it
It was quoted about me in the 1997 National Cowboy Hall Of Fame and Western
Heritage Center’s Prix de West catalog, quote; “He is a
historian who records his time in pictures rather than words, and as Russell and
other in-their-time “contemporary” chroniclers of the West are seen today as
painters of the “historic West”, so Snidow will be seen in the future. And as
his philosophical perceptions of the work he does and his place in the world of
western art have evolved and changed, so have the subjects of his paintings.
Although still painting the part of Americana that has brought him recognition –
the contemporary American cowboy at work and play – Snidow is recording other
aspects of his time.”
As a charter member of the Cowboy Artists of America, I served in every
office of the organization, including three times as President. While an active
member, I had the privilege of competing with such artists as Clymer, Lockheed,
Lovell, Warren, Reynolds, Terpning, McGrew, Riley and Ryan. After 25 years of
active membership, I retired from competition to become a Member Emeritus. At
that time, I was CA’s top medal winner, with 27 Gold and Silver Medals,
including three Best of Show. I also co-founded and served on the first board of
directors of the CA museum in Kerrville, Texas. I am no longer a member.
In my career, I have been lucky. Coors Brewery responded positively when I
created the famous Coors Cowboy Collectors Series. This Series has appeared as
part of the sets in such movies as “RAINMAN” and “WINTER’S BONE”. I have three
books written about me as well as being the subject of a BBC film. In 1998 I was
awarded The New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. The 2003 New
Mexico Legislature honored me as Artist of the American West. Most recently, I
was honored as the guest artist at the C.M. Russell Show in Great Falls,
Montana. I was requested to exhibit my work at the Norman Rockwell Museum in
My work has shown around the world including, Russia, France, England, China,
Germany, and many more. In the United States, I have been invited to many major
shows and my paintings hang in the permanent collections of numerous museums.
Retrospective shows of my work have appeared in museums in New Mexico, Texas,
and the prestigious Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
I was born in Paris, Mo. in 1936. I now reside in Ruidoso, N.M.
ABOUT THE PAINTING MEDIUM - GOUACHE (Pronounced, Grr-wash) as used by Gordon
Gouache is a watercolor medium. The binder and the non-drying chemical are
the same as transparent watercolor, however, the pigment is slightly larger.
White can be added to the paint. The finest watercolor paper or illustration
board is used on which to paint. These are 100% rag, ph neutral, they will not
yellow. Snidow feels this is a superior combination of materials. The oil in oil
paint will turn yellow with age. There is no oil in gouache. The pigments are
the same in both mediums, so the permanency of color are the same or better in
Gouache can be applied in light transparent washes and/or mixed with white.
It is a very difficult medium to master, since the value of the paint that is
wet is darker than the paint when it dries on the paper.
Once the painting is finished, Snidow applies several coats of top grade
varnish to the painting for protection. The advantage to using varnish, is to
eliminate the use of glass and to return the color to the original intensity the
artist saw when the color was wet.