Making a Hand: The Art of H. D. Bugbee (American Wests, sponsored by West Texas A&M University) by Michael Grauer
Sometime in 1947, a letter arrived in the mailbox of Harold Dow Bugbee, already a well-known and highly sought illustrator for western pulp magazines and other publications. “Sir,” it began, “I have seen several of your pictures in the Cattleman. Sure like them and I am writing you to ask if you have all of your pictures in a book—if you do—we want to buy one.”
“After seventy years of waiting,” writes Michael R. Grauer in this colorful survey of Bugbee’s life and career, “here is such a book.”
Bugbee and his family arrived in Clarendon, Texas, in 1914, from Massachusetts. He helped his father with the 1,000-acre family ranch and eventually attended the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, where he studied architectural drawing.
Subsequently, he enrolled at the Cumming School of Art in Des Moines, Iowa, but left after two years when the founder of the school told the young Texan that he had learned all the school had to offer.
Bugbee avidly absorbed cowboy scenes and the lifestyle that birthed them. He filled canvases with colorful, authentic images that capture the spirit of the American West of the early to mid-1900s, especially in and near his beloved Texas Panhandle.
By the 1930s, Bugbee was providing pen-and-ink sketches for magazines such as Ranch Romances, Western Stories, Country Gentleman, and Field and Stream.
This richly illustrated overview of the man and his art provides a valuable and entertaining resource for collectors and students of western and Texas art.
Great book! Highly recommend to lovers of art, especially Western and Texas art.
As always, Michael Grauer does a fine job of filling in the blanks of Bugbee’s family history, education and career and reunites Harold “Bill” Bugbee with his wide range of artist friends and that era’s rock-star cattlemen such as Col. Goodnight, Collinson and others. Though Dunton could not accept Bugbee as his student, they did form a lifetime friendship and about a 14 year period of correspondence about art, illustration and career issues. The book’s illustrations display the huge influence that Dunton had on Harold’s technique. I would have liked to see a few more of his murals, drawings & paintings, his studio, and (if he did so) how he went from doodles, to thumb nails, to color roughs, to final images.