"Stranger on the Rio Grande" Cowboy Artists of America

  • Details

    Western, Cowboys, Horses, Rio Grande, Texas.

  • Biography

    Gary Niblett (Born 1943)

    Gary Niblett (Born 1943)


    Born and raised in Carlsbad, New Mexico and living with his wife, Monika in Santa Fe, Gary Niblett is a painter, primarily with oil, of western scenes especially Navajo and Pueblo Indians, cowboys on horses in landscape, and frontier genre. He has also done paintings from his travels such as Streets of Warsaw and Women of Golondrinas, and during these travels exhibited work in Moscow, Taiwan, Beijing and the Royal Watercolor Society in London.

    From birth, Niblett grew up with the American West as a part of his daily life. Recognizing his talent, local ranchers paid him to do portraits of his horses. After high school graduation, he attended the Art Center School of Design* in California, and then spent eight years in Los Angeles with Hanna-Barbera* animation studios as a background and animation artist. There he met his wife, Monika, and they married in 1970.

    Deciding to focus on western art, Niblett left commercial art in 1973. He and his wife, Monica, returned to New Mexico where they live in an adobe style home.   In New Mexico, he has received much attention for the quality of his painting. In 1990, he was named "Distinguished Calendar Artist" for New Mexico Magazine, and one of his oil paintings is in the collection of the New Mexico state capitol building. He has also been featured in magazines such as International Fine Art Collector, Time, Saturday Review and New Mexico Magazine. 

    In 1976, Niblett was voted into the Cowboy Artists of America*, painters and sculptors dedicated to representational western art in the tradition of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. In that organization's annual exhibitions, he has received special recognition including an Oil Painting Award, Silver, 1986; Water Solubles Award, Gold Medal: 1983, 2001, 2004; and Silver: 1982 and 1983.

    Cowboy Artists of America, 44th Annual Exhibition, 2009. Publication of the Phoenix Art Museum
    Artist Files of the Phoenix Art Museum Library

    Gary Niblett was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, a town located in the middle of vast ranch lands where familiarity with cowboys and cattle are a part of every child's heritage. His artistic talents were revealed at an early age through painting commissioned portraits of the local ranchers' horses. In 1963, after attending Eastern New Mexico University, Niblett moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in the Art Center College of Design. In order to finance his studies, Niblett took a job as a background artist with the Hanna-Barbera animation studios. He developed his skills and knowledge of lighting and color as well as design and composition. After eight years he left the studios to pursue a career as an artist.

    Niblett's distinctive style has grown out of his fondness for the Western way of life, especially that of the cowboy. As a boy, Niblett helped round up and brand cattle on ranches. He gained a respect for and working knowledge of life on the range, which is reflected in his vivid narratives of the West.

    At age thirty-three, Niblett became the youngest member ever elected to the prestigious art organization, the Cowboy Artists of America. This same organization awarded Niblett the silver medal for oil painting in 1977 and the gold medal for water color in 1991. He is also a member of the Santa Fe WaterColor Society and the National Academy of Western Artists (now Pre de West). In 1990 Niblett was honored by being chosen the Distinguished Calendar Artist by New Mexico Magazine.

    Niblett's paintings have been exhibited extensively in the United States, England, France, Germany, Japan and at the 1981 American Western Art Exhibition in Beijing, China.

    Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV

    Representational painter of the working cowboy in the high country, Gary Niblett was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico in 1943, and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was profiled in New Mexico Business Journal as an example of art for investment because he can't paint enough to meet the demand. "I'm two years behind," he declares. "I've got a waiting list a mile long. A lot of my paintings are being sold at much higher prices, but at my age, I must try to hold my prices down."

    He says, "my ambition ever since I can remember was to be a painter out on my own." When he was in high school, his parents paid $380, "a tremendous sum," for them, for his correspondence course from Art Instruction. After a year at Eastern New Mexico University, he showed enough talent to transfer to the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles. However, his "funds ran out real quick. The rest has been on my own."

    Hanna-Barbera animation studios soon recruited him as a background artist. After nine years, he had saved enough to move to Sedona, Arizona, to paint full time.

    " I don't like anything modern," he says. "My goal is to paint loosely but accurately. I paint with a brush and it should look that way." A turning point was his election in 1976 as the youngest member of the Cowboy Artists of America. When he travels now, he claims that "you'd think we were movie stars," but Western artists don't get much attention in Santa Fe and "in a way it's nice."

    Peggy and Harold Samuels, Contemporary Western Artists, Samuels 1982, Judd's Inc., Washington, D.C.
    Gary Niblett was born and raised in Carlsbad, New Mexico, attended the Art Center School of Design in California, and became a commercial artist until 1973 when he decided to focus his career on fine art.

    Niblett's versatile work is intended to demonstrate the human values, which are brought to bear in the living, not only in the American West but the entire world. He prefers reflecting on the quieter, subtler moments of his daily life. Frequently he is drawn to an earlier time, a time of horse-drawn wagons, small, picturesque villages, quaint and colorful clothing of bygone eras.

    He enjoys traveling to Europe and Mexico in particular where he feels he is really going back in time. The texture of old houses, barns and wagons he feels are wonderful to paint. Niblett has tried to analyze his desire to paint these quieter moments. He has found that his motivation goes back to a simpler way of life that he enjoyed while visiting his family on the farms and ranches in west Texas. As he says, " I had a wonderful boyhood."
    Biography from ART WORLD
    Gary Niblett was born and raised in Carlsbad, New Mexico, a part of the country where the American West is not a myth, but a part of everyday life. It was there that the local ranchers paid the high school student to paint portraits of their horses. After graduation from high school, he moved to California where he attended the Art Center College of Design.

    He spent eight years with the Hanna-Barbera Studios as a background artist but continued to develop his own style. In 1973, Niblett left commercial art to focus exclusively on Western art and, also, returned to New Mexico where his work gained national recognition. In 1976, Niblett was invited to join the Cowboy Artists of America.

    In 1977, his first year exhibiting in the CAA Show, he won the Silver Medal for Oil with his painting Gold Fever. His winning streak continued -- he won the Silver Medal for Water Soluble in 1982 and 1983, the Silver Medal for Oil in 1986, and the Gold Medal for Water Soluble in 1991.