For local artist Dale Adkins, painting and doing illustrations is all consuming. He said when he is working on a piece, he is putting paint to a canvas in order to tell a complete story, and when he feels like he has answered all of the questions he thinks need to be answered, he is done with his masterpiece.
Adkins, 83, of Gordonville, will be the featured artist at the Shauney P. Lucas Community Art Show that will be held March 17-18 at the Jimmie O. Rector Community Center in Whitesboro.
“I grew up in Bethany, Oklahoma,” he said. “I was an orphan around the time of the Great Depression. I started making art when I was probably 8-9 years old. It was tough. I did what I had to for food.”
Adkins began making art professionally in the 1960s. He said that he used to do illustrations for Look and Life magazines and the Saturday Evening Post.
“I went to college and got an art degree, then I got my master’s degree,” Adkins said. “I started doing covers for individual books and illustrations for western books.”
Then Adkins took a break from art. He joined the military and served in Korea.
“I started life producing art,” he said. “It is my heart and soul. It is an escape for me. It requires all concentration for like three to four hours. When that time is over, I am completely exhausted.”
It can take Adkins a month or two to produce one painting. He said that when he is working on a piece, he often goes to his wife and asks her if he should do a stroke here or there. Her answer is to just keep working.
“Art is such a release,” Adkins said. “The biggest piece that I did was on the side of a building in California. I did it in sections.”
Adkins said that for a long time, illustrators were not considered artists by mainstream art lovers.
“It’s just two different worlds,” he said. “Illustrations are art. Normal Rockwell painted Americana. He is the one that really got people to looking at illustrators as real artists. He was so integral to the charge.”
Along with western pieces, Adkins also paints and illustrates Americana. Adkins’ works also include cover illustrations of Louis L’Amour western novels. In addition, he does Native American art pieces, and wildlife art.
“I am working on a Indian scene now,” Adkins said. “There are bears and eagles in it. I like to be diverse.”
Adkins also has done cowboy paintings as well as paintings of tractors and children.
In 2016, Adkins did the aviation piece commemorating the last year of the National Aerobatic Championships in Texoma.
“I have also done a lot of NASCAR illustrations of drivers,” he said. “I have made the most published illustrations of any living artists today for NASCAR. Right before Dale Earnhardt died, I did an illustration of him. I have sold thousands of those.”
Adkins said that prints of his illustrations can be found at gift shops and aviation museums all around the county.
“It is such a personal impression,” he said about making art. “It speaks to everyone. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. You can tell that there are some young people that just absolutely crave it.”
Also spending his time as a teacher of art, Adkins said there are not too many people who do not want to be a part of art because there is an artistic nature to everything that people do.
“Carpentry can be an art form,” he said. “It’s all about expression. You express yourself every day so art is all around us in everything. It’s life. It’s all consuming. There is beauty all around us. It excites me. It’s so much more than just art, literature and music. Artists can be found everywhere.”
Starting with the end in site, Adkins said that he likes to know where things are going with his pieces. Even still, he sees new things every time that he looks at his own works.
“Someone came up to me once,” Adkins said. “It was a guy looking at a piece that I created. He said, ‘I did not even realize at first that you put a bear in the clouds in the sky.’”
Adkins went back to the piece for a second look.
“I looked in the background and there it was,” he said. “I did not even intend to do that, but it was there. That shows that everyone sees something different when they look at a piece.”
For those that are wishing to join the art community, Adkins said because of how readily available art is, it is hard to make a living as an artist.
“Life is faster now,” he said. “Those that decide to be in this world have to work really hard. They have to be committed. You really have to be committed in anything that you try to do now-a-days. You have to work on your craft and you have to commit to it or people will not pay you to do it.”
Adkins will have three pieces in the Whitesboro art show. He will also have signed prints on hand for people that wish to purchase a piece from him.
An artist’s reception hosted by the Whitesboro History Club for Adkins, as well as the other artists in the Shauney P. Lucas show, will be held held Friday from 7-8:30 p.m. For more information on the show, visit whitesborotexas.com/pard.