Stephen H. Willard - Pursuit of the Purple Shadow


Biography of the California artist Stephen Hallet Willard (1894 - 1966) which illustrates his life and his work in Gelatin Silver Photograph, Textured Screen Prints, Hand-Tinted Photographs, and his unique Photo Paintings. Willard's work in the 1920's and 1930's helped in the establishment of the Death Valley National Monument by President Hoover in 1933, The Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936, and The Kings Canyon National Park in 1940.

He was a prolific creator of black and white Real Photo Postcards which he printed himself, as well as becoming one of the most successful contributors of images to the Curt Teich Company in Chicago, who was one of the largest producer of photo-mechanically colored postcards in the world. The promotion of Palm Springs through Curt Teich's colored postcards helped to popularize Palm Springs to a national audience. His unique work in Photo Painting developed through his experimental mixing of the medium of a grayscale photo enlargement with both translucent, and highly opaque ink and paint media, on specially prepared board. The process he developed over decades of experimentation allowed him to express the colors in nature as seen by an artist's eye, and to share with the viewer, the feeling that the scene conveyed to the artist himself. He worked prolifically in the creation of these mixed media photo paintings.

He, and his wife Beatrice were early residents of both the city of Palm Springs CA, as well as the community of Mammoth Lakes CA. These two studios ran simultaneously in the 1920's and 1930's, with the winters spent in Palm Springs, and the summers spent in Mammoth Lakes. In 1947, the Willard's moved their winter residence from Palm Spring to Lone Pine CA, where they built a ranch in the shadow of Mt. Whitney. The diversity of these studio locations allowed Willard to become a specialist in the desert landscape, as well as the splendor of the High Sierra.

Author: Richard Westman

Publisher: Mammoth City Press
2nd Edition,1st Printing © 2020
soft cover 
150 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

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