VaLoy Eaton was born in Vernal, Utah in 1938. Considered the heir-apparent to LeConte Stewart, he is a landscape, animal, and figure painter. He currently lives in Midway, Utah.
Eaton studied art and painting at Brigham Young University and later at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. Returning to Utah, he studied under Dale Fletcher at Brigham Young University whom he credits as a grounding influence.
Eaton was elected to life-long membership in the National Academy of Western Art. He also won second prize in the Royal Western Watercolor and Drawing Competition. In 2002, he received the Governors Artist Award for excellence. Hollyhocks, Warm Day—Indian Canyon, and Young Cottonwoods are some outstanding examples of his work.
Biography adapted from Springville Museum of Art.
Valoy Eaton has been called the heir-apparent to Utah landscape artist LeConte Stewart. Eaton is a contemporary regional landscape painter (meaning a landscape painter who paints scenes of a specific area) who was born March 29, 1938, in the small town of Vernal, Utah. Although Eaton's father owned and ran an auto repair shop, his spare time was spent with his wife playing popular and western music in a dance band. From his parents, Eaton gained an appreciation of music and the arts.
During the Depression, the family moved to Bingham for work in the Kennecot copper mine, and there they lived in a cramped apartment so close to the slag pile that once, rocks tumbled off the pile and into a neighboring apartment. When Valoy was five, the family returned to Vernal, where he first started experimenting with art. He can still remember as a young child drawing three converging lines and noticing how the drawing seemed to "jump off the paper." Having discovered perspective quite by accident, Eaton couldn't stop drawing from that time on.
During the next few years, Eaton continued to pursue his interest in art but without thinking of the pastime as a possible occupation. However, while wandering the fields around Vernal, spending time at his mother's home in La Point, and staying with his grandmother near the Uinta Mountains, Valoy grew to love the natural beauties of rural Utah.
His first commission as an artist was in fifth grade when he was asked to create a Santa, sleigh, and reindeer for the school roof. However, sports soon became an important contender for Eaton's time, his 6'3" frame and natural ability eventually taking him to Brigham Young University on a basketball scholarship in 1956. For the next four years, Valoy majored in painting and drawing but spent most of his time playing ball. During this time, he married his high-school sweetheart, Ellie King, whom he credits with his success as an artist today.
After graduation from Brigham Young University, Eaton moved to California, planning to study at the Art Center in Los Angles. Finding out that the waiting list was a year long, the Eatons promptly moved back to Utah. Here, Eaton got a job at Cyprus High in Magna, Utah, as art teacher and coach. Busy all day, he came home and painted, sometimes all night. Although he made significant progress during this time, he soon felt a need for more formal training and enrolled in a master's program at BYU, where he worked with Dale Fletcher. In 1971, he completed his Master of Art, having developed a secure style based on his belief that truth lies in the reality of natural forms.
Teaching at Cyprus High and painting at night became less and less satisfactory, and when in 1971, Eaton was making as much money from painting as from teaching, he and Ellie went house hunting in Wasatch county. Just outside Midway they found a three-acre piece of land with a somewhat rundown farmhouse. Three days later it was theirs.
Having time to paint made a huge difference in Eaton's art, and by the age of 33 he had dealt with the typical technical problems that beset young painters. By 1975 he was accepted in the prestigious annual exhibit of the National Academy of Western Art. Critics soon noticed Eaton, and in 1976, he was awarded the silver medal in the Royal Western Watercolor Show in Oklahoma City. He has since exhibited throughout the United States in places such as Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and of course, Salt Lake City.
Valoy Eaton uses a wide variety of techniques, believing the results are what is important. This variety of technique is one reason Eaton's paintings avoid any taint of formula or repetition. He believes it is vital to paint as a spontaneous expression of enthusiasm and involvement. He says he would rather dig a ditch than paint a subject he isn't interested in. He avoids preliminary sketches so he won't lose the mental image he wants to create. He starts with a light brush drawing on the board and builds the masses gradually, stroke by stroke, tightening the images gradually, in what he terms "A series of corrected mistakes."
Eaton's subjects continue to be simple statements about the land. Unlike some artists, who rely on the grandeur and power of their subjects, Eaton says he wants his paintings to convey his feelings about his own backyard. He paints from his own experience, and the quiet beauty of his paintings is an expression of the inner man--humble, family-oriented, honest, and calm. That gentle power, coupled with years of hard work and determination, have resulted in artistic success.
Eaton is an executive member of the National Academy of Western Art and an established artist in the Cowboy Hall of Fame. His work is sold throughout the United States at galleries in Wyoming, Salt Lake City, Tucson, and Oklahoma City. His work resides in important private and public collections such as those belonging to The Brigham Young University School of Law, The Springville Museum of Art, the Fort Worth National Bank in Texas, The J. Evetts Haley History Center in Texas, Mr. Charles Blackburn of Shell Oil, and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Biography courtesy of Springville Museum of Art.
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