Whether capturing enduring moments from the big screen, images inspired by his spirituality, or quotidian scenes from daily life, the inspirational art of Morgan Weistling engages the mind and tugs at the heart. As any fan of contemporary art can attest, Wesitling is a master of his craft, a renowned creative force whose illustrations are both highly coveted and collectible. Most well-known for his movie posters and realistic figurative paintings of adults and children in antique settings that demonstrate his elaborate attention to detail, he paints such vibrant work with the clarity, focus and purpose to make viewers feel like eyewitnesses to an unfolding scene.
Having enjoyed a wildly successful profession career stretching back into his teenage years, Weistling remains forever indebted to one artist—his father, Howard. Raised in Southern California, Weistling learned to draw from the elder Weistling, a former art student and POW in Germany, who entertained his fellow American prisoners with a daily comic strip that he created and drew to keep morale up. Art also may have saved his life (In the last days of the war and feeling the Russians would be coming, he used some paints supplied by the Geneva Convention to paint an American Flag on the shoulder of his prisoner uniform so that the Russians would identify him and not shoot him. It worked.). Howard returned from the war with his sights set on becoming an artist but chose to set aside his dreams to support his young family. Fortunately for his son, he saved all his art books. As the youngest of three children, Weistling began imitating his father's drawings every night as he sat on his lap, drawing together and sharing a creative bond that began when Weistling was just nineteen months old. Today, Weistling's career is the embodiment of a father's dreams.
"My dad and I bonded together with drawing and spoke to each other with pictures," Weistling said, "It was here that art became a language for me" and imbued his son with a natural rhythm for narrative. It was a special time that they both looked forward to, as the father fostered in his son a love for art and the instinct to indulge in drawing as a creative outlet. Later, it led Weistling to study those art books his father had acquired featuring artists such as Andrew Loomis and Louis van der Pol. However, it was a volume set from the Famous Artist School which proved most influential. At the age of twelve, Weistling was determined to go through the entire course on his own, since the school was no longer in existence. By the age of fifteen, his study of anatomy, drawing, and painting needed a mentor's touch. That direction came through a retired illustrator named Fred Fixler. Fred's school, then called the Brandes Art Institute, was dedicated to one thing - learning how to draw from life. Fixler used the old time, classical methods of traditional realism. "The minute I saw his life drawings I knew this was the guy to study with, there was no doubt," says Weistling, who credits Fixler with teaching him how to effectively use lighting in his paintings. He studied at Brandes for three years.
Working in a Los Angeles art supply store while attending art school, Weistling made sure to show his own work to noted artists whenever they came in. One such customer was a prominent illustrator and movie poster artist. As a result of their encounter, at the age of nineteen, Weistling began a successful career as an illustrator, as he found himself employed at one of the top movie poster agencies in Hollywood the very next day. "At that time, all I wanted to be was an illustrator," Weistling says, "but (landing his dream job) was amazingly fast."
There, Weistling learned to think like a skilled cinematographer, envisioning himself as part of the scene that he was painting, then visualizing how it would look on the movie screen. With his exquisite use of oils, he makes the transition from his imagination to the canvas
, deftly capturing the light to bring the scene to life and fully involve the viewers' imagination and emotions. A stickler for authenticity, he often tapped into extensive prop collection to create setups that took longer to complete than the actual paintings, and is willing to go to extremes to most accurately capture the needed inspiration. To get more realistic-looking reference photos for one movie poster, he rented a helicopter to hover above him while he snapped action shots.
His newfound career may have seemed glamorous at first blush; however, it also proved mentally arduous and physically demanding, at times requiring him to work for forty-eight hours straight to meet a deadline. His famous subjects would review his drawings, faxing their comments back to him. Weistling would rework his paintings accordingly, ever mindful not to bruise egos by painting one movie star larger than another when they shared equal billing. For the next fourteen years he plied his trade for every major movie studio in Hollywood, as well as many other fields of illustration, becoming very well-known for his illustrations whose amazing celebrity likenesses promoted movies and their merchandise such as Anastasia, The Santa Clause, Last Action Hero, The Lost World and countless action thrillers. The list of movie stars Weistling has painted reads like a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard, and his client list is a "Who's Who" of the entertainment industry, including Disney, MGM, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, TriStar, Universal/Amblin Entertainment, Tyndale House Publishers, Gospel Light, Maranatha Music, Lenox, Focus on the Family, and Arnold Schwartzenegger. Beyond movie posters, he has designed inspirational, nostalgic and science fiction collector plate series as well as artwork for Segal pinball machines. His art can be seen on numerous magazine, book, CD and video covers.
After being art-directed for years, Weistling decided he needed to stretch his creative legs and paint something for himself. So, he took time out to produce a painting and brought it to Scottsdale, Arizona on the advice of artist, collector, and long time friend, Julio Pro, who suggested Weistling "approach the top galleries and, if need be, work his way down." He needn't have worried. Much like his earlier success as an illustrator, recognition found Weistling very quickly. In fact, the first gallery he walked into signed him on the spot. Co-owner Maryvonne Leshe was quick to recognize brilliance and more than willing to invest. She was soon proven right. Having turned his considerable talents exclusively to fine gallery art, Weistling found himself unable to keep up with collector demand for his original
works. "He would send his paintings to us un-framed, and, before we could get them hung, they would be sold," said Leshe. Soon a "draw" system for Weistling's paintings became necessary. His first one-man show had twenty-six paintings. All were sold opening night. Since then, Weistling has had many one-man art shows, which also have sold-out opening night.
Of course, Weistling has garnered many critical awards as well. He participated in both the Prix de West Invitational and Masters of the American West Exhibits. He won the Patron's Choice Award in the Masters show in 2000. In 2001, he won the Prix de West Award as well as the Nona Jean Hulsey Buyer's Choice Award for his painting, The Dance. Also interested in depicting his Christian faith, Morgan has portrayed the life of Christ in many of his paintings. Those images can be found in the best selling book, The Image of Christ, a finalist for the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Gold Medallion Book Award, which is comprised of paintings and text by Weistling. Past honors and awards include the Trustees Purchase Award at The Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles, CA; Nona Jean Hulsey Buyer's Choice Award at the Cowboy Hall of Fame's Prix de West; Master's of the American West Purchase award "Family Traditions"; multiple Prix de West Purchase Awards at The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK; multiple Patron's Choice Awards at The Autry Museum of Western Heritage; Collector's Choice award at the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction.
Weistling and his wife, artist JoAnn Peralta, make their home in California. They have two daughters, Brittany and Sienna. Both girls model for paintings frequently.
World Wide Art
World Wide Art is known for its wide selection of limited edition
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. In business since 1996, World Wide Art is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a well-known art shop for both serious collectors and casual decorators. The staff at World-Wide-Art.com not only deals art, but are collectors and artists themselves who consider their work a labor of love and lifestyle of art appreciation.