Paul Calle was a master of both the oil painting and the pencil drawing. His
drawings — often very large — showed incredible control and sensitivity; they
had the quality of fine etchings. Few contemporary artists had attained greater
mastery of the pencil than Calle, who shared his skills in his book, The Pencil,
a record of his odyssey as "an artist with a pencil." It has been translated
into French, Chinese and Russian. Calle's oil paintings, finely detailed
panoramic landscapes of the majestic West, often took several years to complete.
Another book of his art, Paul Calle: An Artist's Journey was awarded the
prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award for Fine Arts in 1993.
Here was an Artist whose career strongly reflected the dramatic era in which he
lived and worked. Paul lived in Connecticut, but when he was chairman of the
Department of Interior's 'Artist in the Parks' program, Paul traveled widely
throughout the West. According to Paul, "The portrayal of Western Art is not a
romantic adventure, but a realistic challenge - a personal commitment to portray
Calle‘s magnificent art portrayed the human spirit, paying tribute to the
trailblazers. Whether it was the first astronauts or those largely forgotten and
unsung heroes, the North American trappers of the early 1800's. These were the
men who blazed trails through mountains, navigated unnamed rivers, and trapped
in lonely streams and meadows. Despite their rough existence, they carried the
Bible and Shakespeare with them to read around the campfire at day's end. They
lived solitary lives, and most of them died unknown, before the age of 35, with
records of their exploits, discoveries and stories unrecorded. The style of
Calle celebrated their quiet courage and rugged dignity amid the frontier
wilderness. Not only was he able to envision how scenes from their lives might
have looked, but he rendered his visions with elaborate detail and historical
His art filled a void in our visual history. With his pencils and his oils, he
captured scenes that preceded film, with results that no camera could ever
duplicate. NASA recognized Calle‘s unique ability to interpret history. In the
sixties, he was commissioned to document America's early space missions.
Millions witnessed those historic moments when man first set foot on the moon.
They watched as shadowy black-and-white images of the astronauts bobbed across
their televisions in 1969. But with his mind's eye, Calle saw the moment in
color. His painting, "The Great Moment" conveys its magnitude, capturing not
only the image, but the emotion as well.
He chronicled many behind the scenes space launch images and captured for
posterity artistic interpretations of the events to give a human touch to the
mechanical photos and video. He was the only artist allowed to shadow the
Apollo 11 crew on the morning of their launch of this historic flight, resulting
in a portfolio the cameras never saw.
Calle painted man in relation to his environment, moments when man pauses,
alone, to consider his surroundings. "The faces tell the story," he said. Like a
good book, the art of Paul Calle draws you in, to experience the moment. "My
paintings convey a certain period of history. Collectors tell me that they feel
that they could be there; that they could be sitting around the campfire in
'Fireside Companions' or in the scene with 'The Storyteller of the Mountains'.
They're buying an emotional feeling. I convey what I see, and it attracts them
to my work."
His painstaking attention to detail involved hours of research, collecting
historic artifacts and retracing the footsteps of his subjects, all before
committing the scene to pencil on paper or oil on panel. Still, Calle, a
disciplined artist and a perfectionist, was never completely satisfied with his