Artist Don Spaulding has had a life-long love affair with the history of the American West. Spaulding pictures the history of the American frontier with a view that reflects a unique visual narrative of the period. “I’ve always been intrigued with the look of history,” says the artist. “There is a special thrill I get handling artifacts from the Old West. It’s like holding history in my hand.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Spaulding’s artistic talent blossomed early. He drew as a boy and studied art in high school. He also spent four years at the Art Student League in New York, where he studied with Frank Vincent DuMond, Robert Beverly Hale and William McNulty. Spaulding was also invited to study with Norman Rockwell at his Vermont studio. Rockwell instilled in Spaulding a passion for authenticity and excellence that has remained with him throughout his career as an artist and illustrator. As a boy, Spaulding spent a lot of time on his aunt and uncle’s old-fashioned farm on the Housatonic River: “I spent so much time on the farm that I often feel as though I have lived in the last century. Perhaps that’s why I have such a feeling for the era and why I enjoy painting 19th century life.”
Spaulding is widely known for his U.S. military art. His artwork was exhibited in a one-man show at the West Point Museum of the U.S. Military Academy, and is also included in their permanent collection. Spaulding’s military art also resides in the collections of the U.S. Army War College and the Pentagon. His paintings are distinguished by careful attention to the accuracy of dress, gear and weapons, which he knows from his outstanding personal collection of Western and military artifacts. He is particularly enamored with the regalia and equipment of the cavalry trooper, the Plains Indian and the cowboy.
In Spaulding’s artwork, every element is authentic and accurate, “yet the focus,” says the artist, “is always on the people — another Rockwell influence.” Spaulding takes great care to set a scene with his models and with historically accurate costumes and artifacts from his own extensive collection. “I was put on the earth to paint the historical West,” says Spaulding, “It’s my great love and passion.”