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An artist at work

By Staff
Becky Miller
Guest writer
"Believe it when you hear that phrase 'starving artists' and approach your decisions with a practical eye,"
A Madison artist, whose works include portraits of former presidents, has offered a little advice to budding young artists. Roberta Wesley, owner of Wesley Prints in Madison, said if you've got the desire to be an artist, do so, but be willing to expand from the traditional skills you acquire.
Wesley began painting at the age of 12 and studied art at The University of Texas and received an art degree from Texas Women's University.
Over the years, Wesley's original artwork grew in demand through her association with some of the finest galleries in the United States.
"Although grateful for the success, there seemed to be constant pressure to produce the same most popular subjects again and again and I began to lose enthusiasm for my work," Wesley said. "That is when print publishing came to my rescue. I now have time and freedom to fully develop and detail subjects that interest me and then move on to the excitement of a new inspiration."
Wesley's portfolio includes a creative diversity that reflects the enthusiasm that she says fuels her artistic vision. Her principal medium is alkyd. In the early 1990's, Wesley began experimenting with the use of a computer, which enabled her to understand the creative potential of combining this new technology with her mastery of traditional artistic techniques.
Her alkyds on canvas now merge in her computer to produce the mixed media of Wesley Prints. "This allows me to publish my own work, maintain the integrity of my vision and translate all the intensity and power of my originals to the fine paper and canvas editions," Wesley said.
Wesley's originals hang in numerous private collections throughout the United States and abroad.
Her gallery associations have included the Overland Trail Gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Conquistador Gallery in Taos, N.M., The Savage Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., DeGarmo Galleries in Hawaii and the Lindsey Gallery in Carmel, Calif.
"I have lived in Madison for two years. Prior to that, we lived in Huntsville for 10 years," Wesley said. "I am a Texas native. We moved to Madison to be closer to my offices on Old Madison Pike. Although our primary business is wholesale, we are happy to have walk-in guests."
Wesley Prints is located at 8006-20A Old Madison Pike in Miller Plaza.
"Basically, the purpose of the business here in Madison is to publish art prints on paper and canvas," Wesley said. "My subjects range from sports through spiritual and landscape. We have more than 500 active retailers in the country – several here in North Alabama. We will be glad to direct anyone to a local dealer."
Wesley said she enjoys looking at the work of other artists and attends a couple trade shows each year. She was recently in New York City will travel to Atlanta this fall. Some of her portrait credits include former Texas Governors John Connelly and Alan Shivers and one for former President Lyndon Johnson.
"I've been in the art publishing business for 10 years now and I have two people working with me here in Madison," Wesley said. "I have worked in some form of art since college to include commercial advertising over the years as well."
Wesley's husband, Jack Duffey, is an engineer for Lockheed Martin. She has a son, Jim, who lives in Texas, another son, Bob, who lives in Arizona, and another son and daughter, Tom and Paige, who live in California.
"My advice to budding artists is to do all of the traditional study and then follow it by learning to use a computer," Wesley said. "There are many ways to earn a good living with computer art skills. It is much more difficult to survive financially through traditional painting or fine arts. Believe it when you hear that phrase 'starving artist' and approach your decisions with a practical eye."
Wesley can be contacted by email at art@wesleyprints.com or phone 772-3377. The business website is www.wesleyprints.com.

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