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Charlie Dye

Birth place or City of origin: Canon City
State of origin: CO
Last known City: Sedona
Last known State: AZ
Start/Birth date: 1906
Death/End date: 1972

Born in Canon City, Colorado, Charlie Dye became a painter of western genre inspired by the paintings of Charles Russell.

From childhood, he was a sketcher, but it wasn't until a horse fell on him that he considered art as a career. In the hospital recovering from his injuries, he saw reproductions of Russell's paintings in a magazine, and that exposure set his career of portraying the lives of cattlemen.

Charlie Dye worked as a cowboy in Colorado, Arizona, and California until he was 21 and then enrolled in Chicago at the Art Institute and the American Academy. In 1936, he moved to New York City to work as a magazine illustrator and took lessons from Harvey Dunn, known as a great illustrator. He also worked with Felix Schmidt in a commercial studio.

Dye was a successful illustrator in New York, doing assignments for Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, Outdoor Life and The American Weekly. However, a trip to California alerted him to how little quality Western art existed, and he soon began vacationing and painting in the West, finally establishing a studio in Denver, Colorado and becoming a partner in the Colorado Institute of Art.

Because of the wide acceptance of his painting, he gave up teaching and illustrating and in 1960, moved to Sedona, Arizona, where he gained recognition for his oil paintings of western scenes.

On June 23, 1965, he, Joe Beeler, John Hampton along with George Phippen, organized the organization we now call The Cowboy Artists of America. George Phippen was its first and Charlie Dye the second president. The group is devoted to the painting and sculpture tradition of Charles Russell and Frederic Remington, and began with artists who not only depicted cowboys but were working cowboys themselves.

Courtesy of Ask Art

Traditional Western painter, illustrator.

Dye was born in a cow town and rode for ranches in Colorado, Arizona, and California until he was 21. “I cannot recall a time when I was not at home on horseback, or that I didn’t portray the life I led with pen and pencil.”

During convalescence from a riding accident, he was influenced by Russell reproductions to become a commercial artist. He painted at night at the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy. In 1936, he moved to New York City to become a magazine illustrator, studying at night with Harvey Dunn. He painted covers and illustrations for many of the major American publications.

His first Western easel paintings were successful. In 1960, he moved to Sedona, Arizona. In 1964, Dye, Joe Beeler, and John Hampton while on a roundup conceived the idea of the Cowboy Artists of America, an association of professional artist who paint cowboys and who are capable of working as cowboys. They, along with George Phippen, founded the organization on June 23, 1965 with Phippen serving as first president while Dye became the second president of the Cowboy Artists of America: “I have always tried to paint what I can remember of a life I led before I became dishonest and studied art. My old man could have forgiven me if I had turned out playing piano in a whore house, but artists rated one step below pimps in his book.”
Samuels - Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West


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