• Roger Upton Bio Image
  • Roger Upton

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Roger Upton American Artist: Roger "Bud" Upton was the first of these three to arrive on the Catalina scene. Born in Massachusetts, he moved with his family to Pasadena, California as a baby. He went to Catalina for the first time with his parents in 1902, and was never far away after that, often spending his summers there. From his earliest childhood, Upton was interested in art. He liked to draw and at one time wanted to be a cartoonist. In his early twenties he became a sign painter, working for Foster & Kleiser. It was during this time that he met Hanson Puthuff (1875-1972) and Paul Lauritz (1889-1975), both well-established and well-known California plein air painters who would become his lifelong friends. These two, among others, encouraged Upton's creative talent. In 1932, Upton and his wife, Betty, whom he had met in Catalina in 1923, moved to Avalon, where they were to spend the rest of their lives. As was the fate of many artists during those Great Depression years, Upton was unable to make a living exclusively as an easel painter, so he went into the sign business. He also painted murals, created decorations for tour buses, designed menus, and served as the all-around design and artistic consultant for many projects around Avalon and Catalina. He and his wife opened a gift shop, where Upton's paintings were sold along with every kind of Catalina curio and gift imaginable, all handmade by Upton and his family. Upton painted in Avalon longer than any other artist to date. Through his paintings, he recorded the buildings and landmarks of his time, as well as the landscape, weather, and everyday life of Catalina. Through his entire career, in spite of the early friendship and influence of Lauritz and Puthuff and other plein air painters, Upton chose to paint in his studio rather than out-of-doors. He used photographs, carefully transferring them to his canvas by laying a graph over both canvas and photo and transcribing one to the other. He also painted from memory. Upton is especially well known for his depiction of Catalina's eucalyptus trees. Upton bragged that he had never had any formal art training but was largely self-taught. Yet, he was a great teacher and loved to share his talent. He gave instruction from his studio and, at one time, from the back end of the family-owned Catalina Hardware Store. In 1958 Upton and a group of other Catalina artists formed the Catalina Art Association. Upton served as the organization's first president. In that first year, the group started an annual Catalina Festival of Art, which has been held each September since 1959. Upton was honored during his lifetime with a number of one-man shows, and his paintings appear in many private collections in Avalon and across the country. Listings wanted.

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