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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Michael Atkinson – American artist by Kaye Spencer #prairierosepubs #americanartist #oldwestart

WESTERN MAJESTIC by Michael Atkinson
In the early 1990s on one of my visits home to Fort Morgan, Colorado from where I’d moved to take a teaching position in the far southeastern corner of the state (a 500-mile round trip), I stopped in Limon, Colorado at a convenience store/souvenir shop. The shop had a bin of posters and prints. This is where I came across my first Michael Atkinson painting. I was immediately enthralled, captivated, and in love with Atkinson’s work.

This print is the first one I purchased.

 For the next several years, I checked that same shop for Atkinson's prints every time I passed through town. I also looked in shopping malls, other souvenir shops, second hand stores, etc. Every time I found an Atkinson, I felt as if I held a treasure in my hands. It mattered not at all that the prints I bought weren’t originals or even expensive. Keep in mind, I was scrounging for his works just as the Internet launched (1991), and years before eBay (1995) and Amazon (1994) started. It took these venues a few more years to gain their current popularity and convenience for finding what you want at the click of a few keyboard strokes.

EMERALD LAKE by Michael Atkinson

PUEBLO SENTINEL by Michael Atkinson
UNKNOWN TITLE by Michael Atkinson
So, who is Michael Atkinson? He is an American artist who paints and sculpts, and I *think* he was born in 1946. He lived in the Lubbock, Texas area when he was a youngster (maybe he still does). A few years ago, there was a Michael Atkinson art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Neither a Twitter or Facebook search resulted in more than passing mention of his works. These two websites, and offer a tiny bit more about him.

From his Smoky Ridge studio in Texas, Atkinson seeks to capture the emotion, be it subtle or exaggerated, a pursuit that has been in evolution since he started painting as a child in the northwest Texas town of Lubbock. Attracted early to the study of architecture, he earned a degree from Texas Tech University, then taught and worked in the field for a time.

From the first, his art, prints and posters have reflected his training, experience, and wide-ranging interests, as he creates images buildings, oceanscapes, animals, and Southwestern landscapes through a unique, semi-abstract style and a mastery of watercolors, spontaneity, and freedom.

White space is an essential element of the composition that characterizes Atkinson's art, prints and posters. The white is not empty. It is completely finished. Treating the paper as an element of design, the artist works from one concentrated area of detail and color, leaving much of the paper white and allowing the eye to focus on the central image without intrusion from the periphery.

The other source of information I have about Atkinson is this paper that is attached to the backs of several of my prints. None of my prints have dates on them, so the ‘seven years ago’ is meaningless without a year as a point of reference. You’ll notice this information is stamped with Diversified Art, Inc., Tucson Arizona, but an Internet search didn't offer much.

I have a Pinterest board of Michael Atkinson’s artwork, and I all of the prints I've shared today hang on my living room walls. I'm content with that. Here is the link to my Michael Atkinson Pinterest board:

UNKNOWN TITLE by Michael Atkinson


by Michael Atkinson

I’ve labeled three of the pictures as “Untitled”, because they bore no titles when I purchased them, and I haven’t found them on the Internet. But I’ll continue to search. That’s part of the enjoyment of having a reason to browse through Michael Atkinson’s works. *wink*

Are you familiar with his works? Do you know anything more about him? Take a moment to browse my Michael Atkinson Pinterest board. You'll be amazed at how many diverse pieces of artwork he has. There are at least two other Michael Atkinson Pinterest boards to enjoy, also.

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

YouTube Channel


  1. Anyone who can make watercolors dynamic deserves high praise. It can be done, but...

    Glorious work. I have Karol Brown watercolors but not hanging. There is just something so mesmerizing about an artist's work that calls to each individual. I also like the works of Ernestine Parsons, who was a local artists.

    I think that's the joy of art, the work that calls to individuals, the enjoyment the observer gets from just seeing them. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and new knowledge. Doris

  2. Doris,

    My painting skills begin and end with beginner's level Paint-by-Number. My drawing talents fall into this category: She couldn't draw a straight line if you gave her a ruler and a pencil. LOL

    People whose artistic talents are painting and sculpting amaze me. Same goes with those who write music.

  3. Wow! I went to your Pinterest page and his paintings are gorgeous. I love them! I've never heard of him. Thanks for sharing, Kaye.

  4. Kristy,

    Wow! is right. He's an amazing artist. His watercolors are a blend of realism and the abstract. Some have an ethereal quality.

  5. Kaye these are awesome! I never heard of him, either. But boy, his paintings are wonderful. Watercolor is so hard. I know my mom talked about that. She painted a lot with oils and acrylics--because water colors are so hard to "get right"--but he just seems to have such a natural talent for them. I have certain artists I love, too. William Acheff paints "pictures within pictures" sometimes. When I worked at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum we had a painting of his that was a spatula hanging on a wall and a postcard pinned nearby it. People would glance around and then run their hand over that painting. The spatula looked so real they thought it was not in the painting but a real spatula on the canvas. I'm like you--paint by numbers would be a challenge for me, now! Oh, another new fave of mine is Justin Manning--he's self taught and does all kinds of wonderful pencil drawings. On FB you can find him at Justin Manning Art.

  6. Cheryl,

    Another Wow! I just looked through Justin Manning's website. I really like the charcoal (sort of scribbled) background on some of his work. My husband's maternal grandmother painted on canvas with oils and acrylics and she worked with ceramics that she would paint on, too. Amazing to me.

  7. Kaye, it's always a treat to find an artist whose work I've never seen before. I confess I'm not a big fan of watercolors, but there are people like Michael Atkinso who have a real talent with them. I like the first picture the best simply because he emphasized the vastness of the plain, be it sandy or covered with snow.It steals the show. I love paintings/photographs that draw me in. I've had it happen only three times where I get so drawn in that all else around me fades away. One is a painting we bought over forty years ago in Germany that despite the distance of time, still rivets my attention every time I go into the living room. A golden orange sunset reflects in the snow-rimed stream and in the hush, I hear three wild boars rooting through the snow, grunting and snuffling. The other picture that gets my imagination rolling is a black and white photograph my son took of a rainy deserted street at two in the morning. I'll have to post that picture some time. And then there's Charlie Russell. Need I say more? I love his work so much I had to make reference to his work in the second book of my trilogy. As usual, I've babbled on instead of making a concise comment. But you do have a knack of posting articles that invite my long-winded appreciation, Kaye, and thus I look forward to reading many more of them.

  8. I'd never heard of him before but I can see why his work attracted you. He has such a lightness of touch and his use of light is eye-catching.

  9. I saw an original watercolor of his in a galleryin Santa Fa back in 2003. It was amazing. The gallery gave me some literature on Michael and how he finished the piece.

  10. Kaye, I actually have had the pleasure of knowing Micheal. I was born and raised in Santa Fe and my path crossed with his before I left Santa Fe. His work is beautiful and his bronze sculptures are as much. He had a gallery in either Vail or Aspen I believe also. You may find more info by searching that tidbit. It would have been in the mid-90s. Lovely to find someone so appreciative of his work

  11. I have an Atkinson watercolor that I bought years ago. Where would I look to find the name of it?

  12. My folks were friends with Mike when he began his career in Lubbock. They purchased an original watercolor from him, I’ve never seen it replicated. It now is proudly displayed in my office. Such a talented artist!

  13. Went to architecture college with him at Tech. Wonder where he is today? Always liked his work.
    Haven’t seen much of it in some time. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Hola buenos dias soy de Argentina. Hace unos dias compre unas acuarelas de Michael Atkinson en Buenos aires. Me gustaria saber si son Originales. Una de las que compre tiene un papel mas grueso con un sello de agua. Quizá usted me pueda ayudar con mi duda. Muchas Gracias

    Hello, good morning, I'm from Argentina. A few days ago I bought some watercolors by Michael Atkinson in Buenos Aires. I would like to know if they are Original. One of the ones I bought has a thicker paper with a water seal. Maybe you can help me with my question. Thanks a lot

  15. Well I'll just add that I got married by him in his back yard 36 years ago.

  16. Hi Kaye, I just purchased an Atkinson print titled "What now". It also has the "Diversified Art" label on the back. It wasn't signed like he usually signs his prints, but on the back "MMA" was hand-printed. Curious, were your prints with this same label "signed" in any way?.

    Thank you,


  17. I recently acquired a limited edition artwork of Michael Atkinson. It's signed and has some sort of watermark. The Artwork is titled Pueblo Sunset and it 1 of 80 1/80 painted in 1988. I know nothing of it's value but I'm trying to sell it to a enthusiastic buyer who can appreciate the piece. I live in Fort Worth Texas. Anyone interested I can send photos.