It has been my pleasure to know artist Travis Beckham for many years — make a few trips with him, even a studio or two.
A native of West Texas, graduate of the University of Houston college of art, one could say that Travis is a philosophical purist in art, though he would tell you that one cannot always be philosophically pure in the pursuit of truth. Philosophy and art are married and intertwined, and at their creative level, each speaks to the other.
As a kid growing up here, “I had a car thing.” Then, as now, he loved cars, and he liked drawing them, and he kept drawing them. His family was of a “practical mind” and told him he was crazy if he insisted on going into art, but he kept drawing. He won some prizes in school for what he drew and that was reaffirming, but to satisfy the advice of practicality, he went to Odessa College and took enough history that he could have followed a teaching career. The burning desire just wasn’t there. Then, there was that “car thing.” He thought perhaps he would go into automotive design, but an art teacher at O.C. told him it wasn’t the gloriously creative process he might think. That if he took that path he would probably spend a life of drawing someone else’s tail lights.
So, it was off to U of H, where the art college was divided between commercial art and fine art. Travis took the path of fine art, even though the word was that those graduates would starve to death. Anyone who thinks art school is fluffy, creative ease has never been in one. The instructors are brutal and critical, and it is here where one sees the difficult intertwining between philosophy and art. Travis was quite good. He was top of his class, though it was a tough road to hold, at time playing cubist, then dealing with futurism, or delving into pop art — but always with the penetrating eye of a Socratic instructor looking over the shoulder for hypocrisy.
Travis has dedicated his life to painting and will tell you that he always feels conflicted. ” It seems the stuff you want to do the most is what will sell the least.” Nevertheless, he loves the starkness of the West Texas landscape from which beauty can be drawn, as he works with oil, acrylic and teaches students in the techniques of drawing.
In my view, he often paints nature with an underlying social or psychological message. The above representation is one that Jane and I own and admire. It is an earlier work and reflective in study.
Here is hoping that Travis Beckham paints for many more years and that I get to make a few more studios with him.
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