ALBERT — Artist Dan Branham has taken his talents across the state line. The Albert painter is known throughout the area for his exquisite works that capture Kansas wildlife and nature. His skill has also caught the attention of Kansas and Oklahoma retailers where two of his paintings hang as a murals inside the stores’ front.
Walmart stores in Great Bend and Jenks, Oklahoma selected Branham’s paintings to greet customers in the foyers of both establishments. “This was part of a nationwide mural project,” said Branham. “It was a call to artists to submit their works to be converted into murals and displayed at selected businesses across the country.”
More than 1,000 artists submitted their works. Branham submitted three different images of his artwork and two were selected for display. The two murals are larger prints of Branham’s original work. He noted the originals were considerably smaller than the actual murals. Branham said the murals will be on display until the stores decide to undertake any remodeling projects.
“They’re somewhat permanent,” he said. “They have already been on display for several months and will be there for hopefully a long time to come.”
Branham said his artistic flare started in kindergarten.
“I don’t remember specifically when I started but my mom told me in kindergarten she wanted a project for me to work on that involved drawing my parents and siblings. So I did it and didn’t think anything of it.” But Branham’s mother received a call later informing her of her son’s talent. “At that age, most kids are drawing stick figures but I got a little more involved and added details such as noses and shading.” At 5 years of age, Branham understood the importance of conveying reality to his craft. “Obviously it wasn’t at the level it is now but I always had a knack for drawing and painting going back to an early age,” he said.
While wildlife and nature permeate his work, Branham, who grew up in Great Bend, never considered himself an outdoorsman as a child. He credits his passion for wildlife and nature to his aunt.
“We went fishing every once and a while but I had an aunt that lived just east of Cheyenne Bottoms out in the country we would visit. I was just mesmerized with seeing wild animals like pheasants, deer, ducks and other wildlife.” His enamouring with nature inspired him to capture those experiences on his aunt’s farm into art.
Branham said fall and winter are his favorite seasons to put to canvass. “I paint all year long but most of my scenes depict fall or winter scenarios with animals,” he said. Branham added that working in a warm house during cold weather allows him to express his creativity more freely.
He said the whole process begins with taking multiple snapshots on his phone. “My photo library is full of old barns and farm scenes,” said Branham. “But rarely do I just photograph a particular scene and translate that to canvas. I’ll usually add in a silo from another photo and some different landscapes and just mix everything together.”
For example, Branham will choose to work on a pheasant painting and add other elements that are not in the original photograph. “Then I’ll pick what time of year for the scenery and begin to arrange the background and any structures I want to use.”
Branham said the most difficult aspect of becoming an artist is achieving public exposure. “It’s just trying get your work out there for folks to see,” he said. “There are a lot of artists out there and a lot of competition.” He said the whole process requires time, hustle and perseverance. “It’s not always the quality of work because there is something for everybody out there,” Branham said. “But getting your name known is, without question, is the hardest part.”
He said having his work on display at both Walmarts is a big step in the right direction. “I never thought I would ever have my work showcased like that,” said Branham.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also presented its share of obstacles according to Branham. “Just from a marketing perspective, we’ve had a lot of art shows that have been canceled which eliminates the outlet for people to view your work up close and personal,” he said. “So I’ve had to rely a lot on social media as an avenue to show my work.” Branham added that the art shows also allowed him to interact with other artists from across Kansas and other states.
When not at his full-time job, Branham takes every opportunity to paint. “If I’m not at work or doing chores around the house, I’m painting,” he said. “I am an outdoorsman now so I enjoy hunting but if I had a choice, I’d rather paint a pheasant than harvest one.” More than a hunter, he considers himself a conservationist. “That’s what I strive for,” Branham said. “That’s the legacy I would like to leave behind.”