FullSizeRender-4Back in ’91, during a visit to Jackson, there happened to be an art fair in the Square, that famous square of antler arches on the corners. I took a fancy to a watercolor painting, a view through desert ruins, and enjoyed a brief chat with the artist, one Russell Steel. He had ventured into his career somewhat late in life, as had a friend of my parents who, upon retirement, became a well-known sculptor, and I relished the chat with Mr. Steel as much as I appreciated his painting. Needless to say, my husband and I bought the painting and took it home to Buckinghamshire, England, where we lived at the time. It was professionally framed and hung in our conservatory for several years until husband and I went our separate ways, I eventually moved to London, and the painting ended up at my home in East Hampton. In East Hampton, it hung in what I tend to call the den or television room. It seemed somewhat out of place there amongst paintings of New York and a map of East Hampton—poor watercolor!

Roll on seventeen more years and I now own this small place in Jackson, and set out to get here by car from East Hampton with my daughter, the framed watercolor in the back. Tonight Russell Steel’s watercolor is back in Jackson, hung above my bed.

Sadly, Mr. Steel, of Durango, CO, passed away in 2010, aged 92. He was listed in “Who’s Who in American Art.’


14 responses to “WATERCOLOR

  1. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines

    Andrea, what a precious gift that painting seems to have given. I love that it has made a full circle and is now back to where it started. It is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing the image. Doris


  2. Love stories that come full circle. Can’t wait to see it back in Wyoming!
    kcf – aka tt


  3. Wonderful post Andi. Interesting how a piece of art strikes, speaking to some part of us we may not fully identify at the time. The special pieces travel with us through life taking on new meanings from the stories of our lives. Glad yours made it home.


    • I’m always interested to see what people choose when I go to art fairs and galleries. When I look at the paintings I’ve purchased over the years, the palette tends to be greys. Now what does that tell you?


      • Hello, I have a signed print of the opposite angle to this painting by Russell Steel . It’s a treasure!


      • Thanks for this comment. I’d love to see the print as I can’t envisage what you mean by “the opposite angle”–do you mean through the ‘window’ from the other side, or just a different angle from the same side?


  4. This is a wonderful story of a very nice watercolor, Andi. Making its way full circle to Jackson is repetitious here, but what else can it be? Serendipity?


  5. I am Russell’s youngest daughter. I thought you might be interested in this piece written for a show 2 years before he died. “During the late sixties and early seventies Russell Steel began making trips across America, most to the west. When he came to Durango it could be said that he was “coming home to a place he’d never been before” like another adopted son of Colorado. John Denver’s songs had a special connection for Rusty, who spent most of his childhood on those country roads around Sistersville, West Virginia.
    Russell became interested in art during WW II when he was commissioned to do USO posters. While stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas he met and married Audrey Kinsey. Oklahoma was where they settled to raise their family. Although he still practiced his art, it was not until the last child left home that he began to pursue an art career in earnest.
    In 1973 he and Audrey began a short time of traveling that centered around art. Summers were usually spent in the Durango area, winters in the south and old Mexico. One journey took them on a tour of Europe. Always they were called home to Durango, where they began to set down roots. Russell still traveled, painting parts of Colorado and other points west, but they had found a community in Durango.
    It wasn’t long before Cinder’s Gallery and the Durango Station had become second home. He is not able to make as many trips out to his favorite spot, but still works on his painting at home. His stand-by medium has been watercolor about which he says, “it is the most contrary of all painting media. But…you can get the mood quickly.” Over the years Rusty’s paintings have been accepted by the National Academy of Design in New York and Watercolor USA shows.
    He has been listed in “Who’s Who in American Art”, and his works could be found in homes, museums, and galleries across America. A permanent exhibit is hanging in the D&SNG Museum and it contains many originals, including a mural painted for the exhibit. Rusty Steel and his art have become part of the history of the Durango Station and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge line.”


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