John Moyers (b. 1958) grew up in Albuquerque in a home surrounded by art and the materials of its creation, thanks to his dad, noted western painter and sculptor William Moyers. “I always drew and painted,” says John, “and my dad let me use pretty much anything he had in his studio.” Despite the fact that John always thought he’d become an artist, his father wasn’t so sure. “He was more realistic and thought it was not such an easy road for me to take,” John remembers. But young John took that road anyway.
After graduating from high school, he set out for Laguna Hills, CA, to live with Noel Tucker, his father’s former art teacher and a successful Disney animator. By day, John attended the Laguna Beach School of Art, receiving classic atelier-style training. “Then, I’d come back at four, eat some food, and go to life-drawing classes at Saddleback College. I was really busy that year and got all I could out of the experiences.”
(Norman Kolpas at southwestart.com)
Ask any Western Art Collector and they will tell you that artist John Moyers is someone whose work you will want in your collection. However, President of the Cowboy Artists of America, and son of a well-known artist, Moyers is a very modest man. “I’ve been kind of fortunate. It seems like a lot of different people from a lot of different places are excited about my work. I’ve always been kind of a private person. I speak better through my art than I do with words.” “It’s been over a span of two or three years, because I’m using some of my outdoor work that I’ve done and put away. My wife (artist Terri Kelly Moyers) and I paint outside all the time to get color studies. We just put them away and use them for larger studio pieces."(Western Art Collector magazine)
The Passion and the Pain
The Shadow of Doubt
Once We Were Kings
The Eagle and the Snake
Caught in the Open
A Change in the Wind
Moyers attended the California Institute for the Arts, with the help of a Walt Disney Studios scholarship. Classes were on animation techniques. “Even though I never went into that field,” he explains, “I really grew from the experience. They had such great instructors.” Although Moyers never drew animated figures, he did work briefly in the cartoon industry drawing Spider Man. Moyers also studied under renowned Western painter Robert Lougheed, attending the Okanagan Game Farm workshop in Princeton, British Columbia, Canada.
Although renowned, the Laguna Beach School of Art and the California Institute for the Arts emphasized modern art. “The teachers had no real structure in mind and basically let you do your own thing,” Moyers says. As an antidote, “I took as many life-drawing and figure-drawing classes as I could.” At the Disney-subsidized Cal Arts, he also gravitated towards the animation program, which of necessity included instruction in “more traditional stuff” like design, perspective, and figures. That, in turn, led Moyers to a job working on Spider Man cartoons for Saturday morning children’s television. “But that wasn’t my cup of tea,” he says. He left the job after only a few months, before he could be seduced by the good money young animators could make in Hollywood. He returned home to Albu-querque in 1979 and came under the influence of a friend of his father’s, renowned painter and teacher Robert Lougheed, who lived an hour’s drive away in Santa Fe.
Lougheed stressed to the young painter the importance of composition and draftsmanship and of capturing shape, color, light, and values—that is, the amount of light that different facets, areas, or colors on an object reflect. Lougheed also guided Moyers in the development of his impressionistic approach, helping him simplify compositions and shapes to draw the viewer’s imagination into a complicit interpretation of the work. Lougheed also stressed the importance of working outdoors, painting from nature. “It’s crazy to try to create things out of your head when you can go see them,” Moyers says. To that end, in the autumn of 1979 Lougheed invited his protégé to spend a month painting along with other artists at the Okanagan Game Farm in Penticton, British Columbia. Moyers continued making annual visits for four more years, developing a habit of regularly painting en plein air and stacking up what he describes as “a library of hundreds and hundreds of nature studies” to which he constantly refers in his studio. “That way, if it’s springtime and I want to do a painting of an Indian in yellow aspens in the fall, I can get the values and colors right.”
Not only did the experience deepen the artist’s connection to the outdoors, but also during his first visit Moyers met Canadian artist Terri Kelly. They soon started dating. Married in 1982.
In 1997, the family moved from Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs in southwestern Colorado, a scenic area where John had spent many summers since boyhood. Living as he does in the Four Corners area, at the very core of southwestern spirit, provides Moyers with constant inspiration for his art. “I’ve always gravitated toward Native American and Hispanic subject matter,” he says, remembering trips with his parents to visit friends at pueblos in northern New Mexico.(Norman Kolpas at southwestart.com)
Throne Fit for a King
Many of his works express his deep passion for and understanding of America’s native peoples. Equally eloquent is Sundown, above, which shows a young brave mounted on his pinto steed, wrapping himself in his blanket as daylight fades. The work was inspired totally by chance: a single frame of film Terri exposed as John asked his model to change costumes. “When I got the film back,” Moyers recalls, “I said, ‘Holy cow!’ I really liked the shapes and the movement and the way the light hit the blanket.” The composition is so simple, however, and the moment it portrays so fleeting, that he wondered whether people would respond to it. He needn’t have worried. The work was his most popular piece at an exhibition of works by the Cowboy Artists of America, to whose distinguished ranks Moyers was elected in 1994.(Norman Kolpas at southwestart.com)
Cowboy Artists of America Awards include:
2009 Stetson CA Award (Artists Choice Award)
2009 Gold Medal Oil "The Judgement"
2009 Silver Water Solubles Award "The Passion and the Pain"
2008 Kieckhefer Award (Best of Show) "The Shadow of Doubt"
2008 Gold Medal Oil "The Shadow of Doubt"
2007 Gold Medal Oil "Once We Were Kings"
2007 Silver Water Solubles Award "Apache"
2006 Artists Choice Award (Stetson CA Award)
2006 Kieckhefer Award (Best of Show) "The Eagle and the Snake"
2006 Gold Medal Water Soluble "The Eagle and the Snake"
2006 Silver Medal Oil "The Apparition"
2005 Gold Medal Oil "Caught in the Open"
2005 Gold Medal Water Solubles "Souvenirs of Mexico"
2005 Kieckhefere Award (Best of Show) "Caught in the Open"
2004 Silver Medal Oil "A Change in the Wind"
2003 Best of Show (Kieckhefer Award) "Gathering Storm"
2003 Gold Oil Award "Gathering Storm"
2002 The Cowboy Artists Award or Artists Choice
2002 Gold Medal Oil "White Man's Leftovers"
2001 Silver Medal Oil "The Sixty-Six"
2002 Gold Medal Drawing and Other Media "Making Time"
2000 The Cowboy Artists Award or Artist Choice
1997 Gold Medal Oil "Winter Travelers"
1997 Kieckhefer Award (Best of Show) "Winter Travelers"
1996 Silver Medal Oil "Spirits in the Wind"
With natural talent combined with years spent developing his skills, Moyers are able to capture the spirit deep inside his subjects in a way that reveals their very essence. This ability and determination led him in his father’s footsteps, and Moyers was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America in 1994. In 2002, Moyers was awarded the Cowboy Artists of America Show’s Gold Medal for oil painting and was honored by a vote of the entire membership with the Cowboy Artists of America Award for best overall for his exemplary artworks in the Exhibition. Moyers was also honored at the Cowboy Artists of America 2003 Show with a Gold Medal and the Kieckhefer Award for his oil painting Gathering Storm, and his work has been featured in magazines such as Southwest Art.