It’s rare to meet someone who knew their life’s calling from a young age and then turned that calling into a life-long profession. It’s even more rare when that person is as equally passionate about that chosen profession today as they were when they first began the pursuit decades prior.

One such rarity is Joe Wayne, a painter, sculpture and patina artist known for his depictions of the West and natural landscapes. Though Joe has experimented with nearly every art form––from pottery to watercolor to wood carving––he found his heart calling in oil painting and bronze sculpture, and has dedicated decades to honing his craft.

In fact, he has found working in the two mediums has helped him progress in both.

“Sometimes people ask me, ‘What do you like more? Painting or sculpture?’, but I find that one feeds the other sometimes,” he said. “With landscapes, it’s the immediacy of how you capture what’s there at that moment and with sculpture, you’re trying to make it interesting from all directions. So, it’s that attention to detail, whether it’s sculpting or painting, it all helps move me in the same direction.”

Working in the two mediums, not to mention his recent time on several movie sets, Joe has also developed an aptitude for storytelling through his work. It’s not uncommon to see animals and humans woven into his pieces, even landscapes, to not only add visual interest, but to help communicate a story. And “story” will be a theme in much of his work at the Celebration of Fine Art this year.

Read on to learn more about Joe, what has inspired his work more recently and what he’s most excited about introducing at the Celebration of Fine Art this year.

Joe Wayne artist    Joe Wayne Early Montana   Joe Wayne Red Barns with Evening Light

How did you know you always wanted to be an artist?

From a very young age, I knew I wanted to be an artist. And I think it was the only thing that I was consistently good at from an early age. I took art classes after school, as well as any extracurricular adult-ed classes I could throughout junior high and high school. I did all kinds of pottery and painting, and even things like wood carving.

When I was in high school, a chiropractor commissioned me to do a bronze sculpture and I didn’t know anything about bronze. So I went to a foundry in Bozeman and bought some wax and talked to them about how to do it. I came back and had it cast there, and years later, ended up working there. So, my experience with bronze started with working in the foundry, learning it from the bottom up.

I tried a lot of different things and I feel like I’m still doing that.

Have you always been drawn to depicting nature and the West?

There’s always kind of an ebb and flow where you’re moving from one interest to another––sometimes I’ll do a bunch of paintings of a certain subject.

I show in a gallery in Montana that’s more of a Western art gallery, and recently, I’ve been lucky enough to be on some movie sets and in between takes, I can take photographs of the scenes, which are fabulous for paintings. So, my work has taken a Western turn lately. Traditionally, I’ve been more of a landscape painter.

What is the most rewarding thing about your work?

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Being able to actually be an artist is not an easy thing. There’s a lot of really good artists out there. So there’s a lot of competition, but to be able to do what I get to do every day is a real joy.

There are so many rewarding aspects of it. For instance, when casting a bronze, you’ve got an edition of that bronze and every time you cast it, it’s like Christmas Day. It’s like a rebirth and then you can make it into a new piece with a different patina. Each one takes on a personality of its own. With paintings, you have to almost reinvent yourself every time and it’s a challenge. I used to get very nervous in front of a big, empty canvas because there are so many possibilities. You’re trying to capture a mood or a moment or a personality, and every time it’s different.

What is the most challenging?

Marketing. But I was married six months ago, so now Mrs. Wayne helps with that. We’re a power team.

Has your work evolved over the years?

I try to make my paintings more dynamic these days with nice contrasts, colors, values and subject matter. Having painted miles and miles of canvas affects the way you handle your paint––you just naturally evolve having done it day in and day out.

Now, having dabbled around in some of the movie industry, some of the subject matter has changed a bit. I’m such a visual person, so it’s easier for me if I have some reference material to work from and that experience has afforded me that.

Is there a particular piece you’re excited to introduce at the Celebration of Fine Art?

I do have a very large painting called, “Blood Brothers” that I’m excited about.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a photoshoot by a costume maker in the movie industry who does these elaborate shoots for artists. I met him on the movie set and he said if I modeled for him for a day, I could take photos the rest of the time during that weekend. I got some great reference material that influenced this piece [Blood Brothers].

In the painting, these two Native American guys are crossing a river on horseback and I feel like I really captured the anatomy of the horses, the lighting and whole feel of the place really well. It took a while and it shows. There’s depth to it. So, I’m really excited about that painting. It will be front and center in my booth at the Celebration.

What drew you to the Celebration of Fine Art?

Having worked in the foundries, I’ve worked with a lot of people who have been in that show. I went to Scottsdale nearly 25 years ago to look at the show and I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. I’ve finally pulled the trigger and I’m really looking forward to it.

Montana has a short season. You can sell art in Montana in the wintertime, but you don’t have as many people coming through the state. So, I’m looking forward to being in the warmer, sunny climate.