During my first year of taking the plunge to become a full-time artist, something terrible happened in the world. And people stopped buying art. I found myself exhibiting in a church one weekend that fall. I had spent all of my savings casting bronze sculptures and investing in my new career. No one sold anything at that show and I was quite depressed about what seemed a bleak future post 9/11.
Earlier that year, I had met veteran artist Warren Cullar after he gave an art marketing lecture in his studio to members of the Austin Visual Arts Association. At this church show, Warren listened to my woes as we each packed up our vehicles. Outside in the parking lot, he asked me to help him lift a small table up into his van. Sure, it was not difficult at all! Afterwards, he put some paper in my hand, told me to put it in my pocket and not look at it until I got home, and then he said, “Go make something that sells.”
Confused, I did what I was told and we each finished packing. I had been so down about something so out of my control that I forgot about the paper until almost midnight that night. I was stunned. Into silence. He really touched me. In my pocket were TWO one-hundred dollar bills!
Kickstarter patrons are probably familiar with the eternal gratitude of recipient artists. This type of generosity was new to me: An almost perfect stranger had not only given me the physical means to accomplish a part of my vision, but his belief that I could do it was uplifting as well.
“Make something that sells.” I had no idea what he meant. What sort of bronze could I create with $200 that would turn things around? In the meantime, I had proposed an exhibition with the City of Austin’s gallery entitled, “From Paper to Bronze: Sculptors Who Draw.” Having been accepted, I began by sorting through a pile of my favorite life drawings and returned to one that I had done in 1994. It was just a one-minute gesture sketch, but I had always loved it. It had taken me years after that drawing to study more anatomy and sculpture. In 2000, I had learned how to compress form to create bas-relief sculpture. [The raised image on a coin is a good example of bas-relief.] Thus, things had come together and I had developed an idea. I spent three days sculpting a bas-relief in clay using my drawing as inspiration. My new artwork was titled, “Ten".
In early 2002, I signed up for another bronze casting class. I had several years experience doing this work. By doing all of the work myself, the money from Warren went further. I cast into bronze the first two in my new limited edition sculpture “Ten.” My angel patron Warren received one when I next saw him at an art show in Austin, Texas. The other “Ten” sold from my booth at the same event. “Ten” became my best selling bronze and got me through some rough economic times. She was also my first sale outside of the US (to a collector in the UK who wanted a gift for his wife).
Date of Posting: 30 March 2015
Posted By: Kelly Borsheim
My first 'serious' art purchase! "Rock-N-Roll" by Warren Cullar. Love it!!!
I did! It was really an awesome experience! !st I wanted to talk myself out of it, but then realized if I expect people to part with their money for my work I should be able to do the same! When I was going to pick it up today I was sooo excited, and I realized that people must feel that way when they get one of my paintings! WOW! Overwhelming! And awesome!!
It's a long story, but I'm pretty sure I would not be an artist now if it was not for a conversation with Warren about 15 yrs ago at a friend's party. That was the 1st time I met him. I was not painting at all back then. Aren't you guys glad I spoke with him???
Date of Posting: 24 December 2014
Posted By: Greta Olivas
Warren Cullar is a beloved artist we discovered when we lived in Austin. We loved him and his work so much that we became collectors. Our names are included in the Sketch Book here as collectors along with one of his sketches that we chose...a black and white sketch of his fabulous, ancient tree of wisdom gracing his front lawn...very excited to find this on Warren's FB page.
Date of Posting: 10 January 2014
Posted By: Deborah Scott Lightfoot
"One of the best afternoons was spent with Warren and Kitty. Learned so much about art and history. LUV Ya both!"
Date of Posting: 06 December 2013
Posted By: Nancy Cowart
Warren always has been and remains a constant volcanic flow of creative expression.
Date of Posting: 11 October 2013
Posted By: Keith Douglas
I lived 15 miles East of Austin. Texas, home to some of finest people and artist I have ever met. A connected-ness and family like feeling of working in their own realms, but always ready to collaborate on a project. There were many times when I would swing by to see Warren Cullar on my drive into the City of Austin. He only lived 35 miles away. The most amazing part of going to see Warren was our greeting. We see eye to eye on everything, but I swear he called my fashion coordinator to find out what I was wearing every time, even when he didn't know I was coming. He had me matched down to the same sandals, shorts and Hawaiian shirt.
One day he was in the 'old studio' painting on nine canvases simultaneously. A little ochre here and then a little Venetian Red there. How does he do it? This man is amazing. Well, that is way I see him! Talent beyond measure.
Over in the left corner of the study is a table with stacks and stacks of original art sketch books. I picked up one book and thumbed through the pencil and ink line drawings, then another and another. What is this? Thousands of illustrations of places from all over the world and right in his back yard too. People, cactus, trees, fish, musicians, tango dancers. This master-artist draws the way I use a camera. I just blurt out, "Warren, these need to be in published a book." He may have mumbled something over his objective selection of the next color to bless his nine small canvases on the giant easel in front of him. "I bet that's something you could put together."
Well, putting together a "Sketch Book" is no small task, but the first step is planting the seed. I did not know I had planted such a large seed with huge roots that touched so many people's lives.
Four months rolled by, then came the "Cullar Galler-age Gayla Christmas Party." Kitty was dressed in a spectacular full length evening gown and Warren in finely tailored tuxedo. Everyone filled their glasses and plates and returned to their seats to eat, visit and enjoy the great eats. Near the end of the dinner Warren gets up to make his announcement regarding this annual art sale for all your Christmas needs. "If there is a piece of artwork that is calling out to you, do not be shy, buy it and take it home or give it as gift this coming holiday." "I have also called you all here to introduce you to my new publicist, JD. Moore, who owns Divine Design." That was new and shocking news to me and yet it was music to my ears. The number of people involved in making the now "Sketch Book" real were many. Starting with Kitty, Carol, and a list of people that I don't have in front of me. So that is how you plant a very large seed.
The image selections, editing the "Warren-isms", pre-sales of copies and production procedures is too extensive to go into in one page.
But I can tell you, as the guy who screenprinted every "Sketch Book" cover and bound every copy personally, it is a great pleasure to be walking through a gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico and stumble on a copy of the Warren Cullar Book.
Date of Posting: 20 July 2013
Posted By: J.D. Moore
I’m from Austin, and Warren is in Austin, but we first met at Sculpture in the Park in Loveland, Colorado! Rather than purchase a piece at the show, Warren invited me to visit his home studio gallery back in Austin. He did this because he only had sculptures in Loveland but his portfolio showed a sampling of his beautiful paintings as well. Long story short, Warren rolled out the red carpet and gave me the grand tour of his beautiful home and an in-depth explanation of his sculpting process. It was educational and fun! I also purchased my first piece, “Balance”, from the Cullar collection. I just added a painting titled “Cat Fish Dreams.” This time, Warren brought the paintings to me. The walls of my home are COVERED with paintings. And in turn I have very little room to spare… think of those pictures of the Louvre from the 18th and 19th century where you can’t even see the walls, well maybe not quite like that, but slowly working in that direction. With my nearly four dozen paintings and dozen sculptures, Warren is the first artist to get a repeat performance! I highly recommend to every collector to add at least one painting and one sculpture from the Cullar Collection to their home gallery. And, don’t forget to take the studio tour on your next trip to Austin…. Just one more reason to visit our wonderful hometown!
Date of Posting: 13 July 2013
Posted By: Phillip Auth