Artist recreates Galveston landmarks through paintings
When Randall Cogburn walks around Galveston, he sees shapes: boxes, rectangles, lines, circles and triangles. Those shapes make up some of the city’s iconic structures, which he recreates in oil paintings in a distinctive impressionist style.
“I just look at scenery I like,” Cogburn said. “It is my take on what I see — not super detailed or abstract, just a little of both.”
Cogburn, who said he always has liked creating and painting, sets up his easel on the sidewalk in front of his subject and paints “plein air.” It can be tricky because of the fluctuating light and rapid changes in the weather. But, he chooses a view point, monitors the shadows and envisions his art, he said. After making a quick sketch, he begins to paint for a few hours.
“It is all about shapes and what looks good,” said Cogburn, who lives in Manvel and works as a commercial electrician. He paints in his spare time, but hopes to develop his talent into a full-time job, he said.
His first city landmark to paint was Sonny’s Place, 1206 19th St., a popular island restaurant.
He was drawn to Sonny’s Place because of its history in the city — the Puccetti family has owned the popular beer and burger joint since 1944 — as well as by the colors and shadows on the building, he said. It was July 2018 when he embarked on the project, working in the intense heat of the day. But he persevered and finished the painting in a few days, he said. It’s the most popular of his series, said Cindy Hillman of Island Framed, who displays and sells Cogburn’s work.
Recently, Cogburn presented Sonny’s Place longtime owner Lawrence Puccetti Jr., known to most as Junior, a signed print of the painting, which now hangs in the restaurant.
“This place is such an icon in the city,” Cogburn said. “It’s an institution.”
Cogburn also has completed paintings of other iconic island buildings and structures, such as Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the shuttered Martini Theatre, Star Drug Store and St. Patrick Catholic Church, to name a few.
He soon plans to capture on canvas the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier on the seawall and Old Red, the museum and administrative offices at the University of Texas Medical Branch, he said.
His paintings are a true reflection of what he sees, he said.
“There are no hidden, deeper meanings or explanations required for my paintings,” he said. “They are what you see and you know why I chose to paint this particular place.”
He started by painting with water colors on small canvases, but realized he had left virtually no room on the picture to sign them, he said. So, instead of his whole name, which he puts on the back, he signs his work “Kirby,” which is his middle name and his grandfather’s name.
“This is my little quirk,” he said. “It’s a way of honoring my grandfather, too.”
In early April, Cogburn won first place in the Paint the Town juried competition in Marble Falls.
Cogburn will join about 50 other artists from the Outdoor Painters Society at Plein Air Southwest, a juried painting competition beginning May 5. The Galveston Historical Foundation is host of the six-day event, and artists will be seen all over town painting and drawing local structures and scenes, including houses on the 45th Galveston Historic Homes Tour.