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Whispering Bird

by Bert Seabourn

Watercolor on paper
Dimensions: 22.5 x 30
Purchased through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1979

Whispering Bird by Bert Seabourn

The Artwork

Shortly after pursuing his career as a painter full-time, his watercolor Whispering Bird was acquired into the Oklahoma State Art Collection in 1979 and represents his earlier style.

Whispering Bird, Bert Seabourn presents a image of an American Indian male with half of his face in shadow. A feather extends from his head, and on that feather rests a bird. As the action seen in this image and the title of the work implies, the bird may be passing along information or sharing a story with man.

With thin and loose brushstrokes coupled with more detailed lines, Seabourn creates an image which is romantic and reminiscent of a narrative found in many legends.

The Artist

Expressionist artist Bert Seabourn believes that paintings should contest our creative elements. “Ultimately, each painting is an arena for the artist’s own emotional tug of war. If it leads the viewer to react, think, or make a judgment, it has attained some success. The responsibility of the artist is to make a visual experience for himself and the viewer. I love to paint and I hope it shows.”

Seabourn is not only a painter, but also a printmaker, sculptor, author and teacher, who experiments intensively with creative vitality. As an expressionist, he uses the technique of dripping, smearing, and splattering the paint - acrylic, oil, and watercolor. “I try to make a unique fusion of design, color, form, and composition, using a layering of texture with drips, smears, splatters and runs.”

Born in 1931, Seabourn sold his first piece of art to King Features Syndicate in 1946, while in the eighth grade at Purcell, Oklahoma. After graduating from high school, he joined the Navy and spent several years as a Navy artist/journalist. After being discharged in 1955, Seabourn and his family moved to Oklahoma City, where he worked at Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company for 23 years as graphic artist and art director. In 1978, he resigned to pursue a full-time career as a painter of fine art.

Recipient of several notable honors, he was designated a Master Artist by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee in 1976, received a Governor’s Art Award in 1981, and was named an Oklahoma Living Treasure in 2004. In recent years, he has taught watercolor, acrylic ,and printmaking workshops for high schools, universities, and art organizations in several states. Seabourn also teaches art at the City Arts Center in Oklahoma City.

Seabourn has exhibited his art throughout the United States and has shown his paintings in England, Germany, France, Russia, Taiwan, Singapore, Chile, Bolivia, Columbia, and Ecuador. His works are included in the permanent collections at the Vatican, Rome, Italy; China’s National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; Moscow University, Ulytanovsk, Russia; the American Embassy, London, England; the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.; President Gerald R. Ford Library Collection, Ann Arbor, MI; President George and Barbara Bush Collection, Houston, TX; the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ; the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City; and, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

“After fifty plus years of making my living as an artist, I relate very well to the following words. ‘Every morning in the Great Southwest, a rabbit wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest coyote or it will be killed. Every morning a coyote wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest rabbit or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are the rabbit or the coyote. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running…and I do.’”