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Hal Maddox (1933-2015) Redwood Master Artist

Okay it is vacation season -

Grants Pass Oregon is located at the major crossroads to the Redwood National Forest.  You take Highway 199 going south and then connect up to 101, the Coastal Highway.  On 101 you will find your way to a magical rain-forest where there are the tallest and most massive trees still left on earth.

Southern Oregon, northern California was the home of Harold Peter Maddox.  He was born and raised in this area.  His father served as a bookkeeper for a logging company.  These early influences would create the master tree portrait painter, documenting his surroundings.  Maddox does not paint a single portrait, instead he painted the matriarch and the extended family.  This family is rooted, possessing character, ambitions and idiosyncrasies that celebrate the aged bark and new spiny branches. 

Maddox knows the trees, sees their whims; understands their struggles; the struggles with the wind and weather.  He records their rhythm and all that is going on in the forest.  In the redwood forest masterpiece below, Maddox captures a dense vegetation that is raw nature in all its natural majesty, with growth and decay.  There are bright spots of flowers and a small stream among the pines trees creating a magic realist landscape.  His paintings are a mirror of reality yet an object of fantasy, straight out a Disney movie.  His canvas treatment takes on an enamel-like texture.

It is reported that Maddox was a plein aire painter.  Almost all of his oil paintings were either started on location or were developed directly from sketches prepared from these locations.  Frequently, Maddox would put animals such as deer into his compositions to provide scale to the redwoods and surrounding landscape.  This composition lacks animals, but the monumental size of this painting reflects the scale of the redwoods. 

Oil on Canvas
42 X 30 Inches
Framed with Velvet Liner: 47 X 35 Inches
Signed Lower Right:  Hal Maddox '84

Maddox was born during the depression and after high school he enrolled in a correspondence art course founded by New York Society of Illustrators.  The "Famous Artist Course" was a commercial art program that required students to accomplish assignments, mail in the school work, and get a return critique.  Through this process he developed the know-how to become an advertising artist complete with lettering techniques.  These acquired skills moved him through the system and eventually he was running corporate advertising for a large San Francisco company. 

Maddox's life was about continuous learning, he was influenced by both the French Impressionists and Japanese Sumi ink painters.  According to his close friend and fellow artist, Dana Brett Schreiber, Maddox studied the French Impressionist extensively.  The Impressionists greatly influenced his painterly brush work, color pallet, while he loved concentrating on elements of light.  He strived to capture light in his compositions.  Likewise, he was a master water-colorist, devoting hours to Japanese Sumi brush techniques, that he taught to his students. 

During the summer of 1974, he went off to Perugia, Italy to study artistic techniques in the morning and art history in the afternoon through the "American Institute of Foreign Study".  Courses in the afternoon were held at the "University for Foreigners".  Upon returning from this expedition, Maddox and a young Schreiber put on an exhibit in Grants Pass: "The Tale of Two Travelers".  Maddox would use additional opportunities to study and paint abroad.

During the 1980's, Maddox taught throughout the southern Oregon region.  He taught at Rogue Community College, Grants Pass; Pacific College of Art and Design, Central Point; and the Oregon College of Art, Ashland.  The last two schools are now defunct and perhaps were combined with other institutions of higher learning.  No matter, his former students remember him fondly and Steven Johnson Leyba, writes about his art instructor in his book: "The Last American Painter."

Maddox's art work has gotten lost in the world of high tech. There are few references on the internet or libraries.  Schreiber was one of the knowledgeable resources on Maddox.  He stated that Maddox had purchased a building in Grants Pass, this is where he exhibited to the visitors who were making there way into or out of the regional national or state parks.  This leads me to believe that there could be numerous pieces of art that were taken home by tourists and are undocumented today.

Schreiber, who was a close art associate left me with the final quote:  "Maddox said, He always wanted to have a brush in his hand".     

Signature Example
Note on Reverse:  Painting by Hal Maddox
Started in Late 1983 finished 1984
Footnote:  I would like to thank Jerry W. Curry, Oregon State Library; Rev. Steven Leyba for his classroom memories from his book, "The Last American Painter"; and Dana Brett Schreiber, Artist and Instructor/Professor.  Dana spent several hours being interviewed.  Additionally, I would like to thank the staff of the Grant Pass Museum of Art and Hal Maddox's Family.  
Photos of Hal Maddox Painting
Photos provided by Linda Maddox, Bend, OR

©2021. Waller-Yoblonsky Fine Art is a research collaborative, working to track artists that got lost and overlooked due to time, changing styles, race, gender and/or sexual orientation. Our frequent blogs highlight artists and art movements that need renewed attention with improved information for the researcher and art collectors. The photo in this blog was created by Mr. Waller and all written materials are used under the Fair Use Section 107, Copyright Act, unless otherwise noted.     


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