Creating Masterpieces: The Color Used In Frederic Remington’s Drawings

Many art critics consider Frederic Remington (1861 – 1909) to be the chief painter regarding the themes of the American Old West. He beautifully chronicled many aspects of daily life on the American frontier, including many of America’s gripping landscapes and the colorful characters who inhabited them.


Remington’s excellently intimate paintings are partly because he actually lived the “Old West” lifestyle instead of just painting it. As a result, his artwork includes many first-hand illustrations of cowboys, the U.S army, historical events, and, somewhat more polarizing, the American Indian.


Remington’s paintings are both a love letter to the ways of American life in the 19th century and also a historical documentation of sorts. He immortalized the people of the time in a wide array of vibrant colors, raising their stature as heroes and legends.


Cold Morning On The Range


One of the first things you will notice when admiring famous artist Frederic Remington painting is the boldness of the bright colors surrounding the characters. It has been said that this can be seen as a reflection of American enthusiasm at the time, as the country was still being built.

When looking at Remington’s paintings from this perspective, they take on a whole other level of meaning. The characters within his paintings and the over-the-top color pallet surrounding them become iconic symbols, similar to that of a modern-day action or superhero movie poster.

Take the painting Cold Morning On The Range as an example. A lone cowboy takes center stage in the painting as he bravely tames a wild and unruly horse. This image can be seen as a symbol of America itself and the bravery it took to settle the land.

A Dash For The Timbers


Speaking of iconic images, Remington is perhaps best known for his iconic high-octane, action-packed paintings. However, these paintings of gunfights and horse chases invoke colors of a different kind, the color of action and excitement.

A Dash For The Timbers is like something taken straight from a Hollywood movie. In the painting, a band of gunslingers as they gallop away from a gang of bloodthirsty Indians in hot pursuit. Smoke fills the scene from the gunfire of the cowboy’s rifles and revolvers as they attempt to escape.

This particular Wild West painting has been pinpointed as a vital source of inspiration for the Spaghetti Western movie genre. Remington’s immense skill at portraying horses is also fully showcased here. Each one seems to embody their unique personality as their frantic hooves ruffle up a dust cloud in their escape to safety. This Remington painting is definitely one worth checking out.

A Dash for the Timber – Frederic Remington


Aiding A Comrade


Keeping with the theme of the color of action, Remington is undoubtedly one of the best in this regard. So many of his paintings beautifully showcase the harrowing dangers of life in the American West and the bravery and fortitude of the people who lived during this time.


As well as being a master at background color and its ability to aid the drama and impact of what’s going on in the foreground of a painting, Frederic Remington really shines as a painter when it comes to depicting the color of the human spirit and people’s resolve during a crisis.


Take the painting Aiding A Comrade as an example. In the painting, a rider has fallen from his horse and is about to be trampled by his horse. The two riders alongside him attempt to save him from this fate. The cold color tones add to the severity of the situation and the life-or-death outcome awaiting the falling rider.


An Indian Trapper


Much of artist Frederic Remington’s collection of artwork also consists of scenes from the Native American side of things. Remington’s paintings of Native American life shown in a positive light can be seen as evidence that he was clearly sympathetic to the problems they faced.


In the latter half of his career, Remington devoted many paintings to respectfully showcasing true Native American culture and not the narrative of being barbaric savages as they were being depicted by the mainstream media of the time.


Remington’s paintings often focused on a lone heroic figure posing proudly against the rugged backdrop of the unforgiving American landscape, and this is no different in An Indian Trapper. Some other of Remington’s Indian paintings worth checking out are the Blanket Signal, The Grass Fire, and the Outlier.

An Indian Trapper – Frederic Remington


The Mexican Major


While working as a traveling illustrator for the American military and other outlets, Remington spent some time in the wild lands of Mexico, taking regular trips there throughout the 1890s. This allowed Remington to paint different color tones, sceneries, and cultural events.


The Mexican Major hits on all the main troupes with which Remington’s work is associated. It involves a slightly exaggerated yet grounded realism color scheme, incredibly authentic compositions of horses, and the prospect of immediate or imminent action, in this case, a battle.


Remington’s ability to convey and blend Realism with Romanticism is second to none. For example, his painting of the Mexican Major masterfully mixes a real-life event with the cinematography of a movie. Some of his other “Mexico” paintings worth checking out are Bull Fight In Mexico and A Mexican Vaquero.



Frederic Remington will be remembered for his historical depictions of life in the American West and movie-like action scenes. However, the nuisances of color and the color of the characters in his paintings make his artwork so endearing.













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