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Bluebonnet wars

Randy Peyton, oil, 16" x 20"
Randy Peyton, oil, 16" x 20"Courtesy of JR Mooney Galleries

W.A. Slaughter vs. Randy Peyton

Bluebonnet landscape paintings have been revered, prodded and poked, coveted and chastised; an ongoing joke of over-produced Sunday painters- a favorite category to paint of “holiday” painters.
However, the history of such a genre of painting has deep roots in Texas and especially San Antonio. Home to the great blue bonnet painters like the Onderdonks, Salinas, Wood, Slaughter and a small legion of others, Texas takes pride in its namesake in Art History, knowing it has inspired these great artists to produce such magnificent work.

Along with this museum collected success story comes positive growth of this art form with subsequent generations of painters that have studied the Texas State flower masters and excelled the painting style to new levels; clearing the way for bluebonnets to be well-respected within the artistic landscape of modern painting.

In a compare and contrast study, two paintings back-to-back by master painter W.A. Slaughter and sought after contemporary painter Randy Peyton show a time honored scholarly application of technique, application, and compositional study; with Peyton playing the role of student as he methodically mimics the aesthetics of a signature impressionistic painting.

Slaughter’s rolling countryside landscape eases down into a valley, exposing the rustic rooftop of a barn; weathered from decades and decades of sun drenched Texas weather. Peyton’s rooftop shows same pitch, same rustic quality, adding modern amenities like a metal roof and chimney, but unchanged, the rolling angles of land work in the same manner- providing movement for our eye to follow as we move from foreground to background in both paintings.

Live Oaks spot the sun bleached Texas grasses with Slaughter’s painted in more subtle approach with minimal contrasts in shadow and detail, while Peyton’s stark shadows create more depth- showing the tree’s character.

Slaughter’s bluebonnets are more like the original Onderdonk style, with cool blues spotted with white highlights, while Peyton’s bluebonnets demand more attention. They are painted text-book Impressionistic, but are detailed in a way that anchors them more to the ground than Slaughter’s.

Cactus litter the ground in both paintings, but again detail and shadow are treated different; each artist giving grace to the solar qualities of light, playing color on color with more emphasis on the direct sunlight, its angle in the sky and the projected shade it transmits onto the vegetation around it.

The Texas sky, a signature trait of these parts is often portrayed as ever expanding. However, Slaughter attacks his heavens with billowing clouds that compliment his overall painterly palette. But, Peyton’s hard edged aesthetic does not lend itself to a detailed atmosphere. Peyton’s clouds lack the softness projected by Slaughter’s applications. On the other hand, owning his own style, Peyton works in his own artistic voice while paying homage.

And not in any way to be overlooked, Peyton has indeed studied intently on artists like Slaughter and Onderdonk, among others, and his dedication to craft has proven a successful career in the fine arts.
Now semi-retired, Peyton might one day sit among the great blue bonnet painters of Texas as the next generation attempts to tackle such a widely recognizable Texas icon.

Look for both paintings available for sale at J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art.

© Gabriel Diego Delgado