Montana Historical Society

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Through the Artist's Eye: The Paintings and Photographs of R. E. DeCamp

By Kirby Lambert

Download and read the article in PDF format.


Different types of paintings- landscape, still life, portraits, etc . . .

The importance of an artist's "sense of place"

The use of photographs to create paintings and other artworks (the fidelity of art in reflecting or representing reality)


1)    Who were Charles M. Russell, E.S. Paxson, and O.C. Seltzer?

2)    According to the author, to what did DeCamp devote his "artistic energy"?

3)    Other then painting, what medium did DeCamp use to capture landscapes?

4)    For what reasons was DeCamp "not particularly proficient at promoting his art?" Why did he not gain the national recognition that other artists of his time did?

5)    Who was Francis A. Lydston, and what role did he play in DeCamp's life?

6)    What might have influenced DeCamp's fondness for using water as a subject for his paintings, as well as his fascination with mechanical objects?

7)    After DeCamp graduated from high school, what jobs did he work to support himself? In the 1930s, what did he reminisce was a benefit of one of his jobs?

8)    What happened to DeCamp's son Eddie in 1906?

9)    What 1884 occurrence ultimately changed DeCamp's life and how?  Where did he end up in 1885 as a result of these events?

10)    What were DeCamp's initial impressions of Montana's capital city?

11)    What were DeCamp's recollections of Charlie Russell's participation in the sketch club?

12)    How did Charlie Russell recall DeCamp's paintings?

13)    Why did the Capitol Commission select DeCamp as one of the artists to paint murals in the newly renovated capitol building?

14)    What did DeCamp use as subjects for his Capitol murals, and how did he prepare for painting them?


-    "DeCamp often painted from photographs in the same manner he did from field sketches, sometimes reproducing them exactly, at other times rearranging subtle elements to attain the greatest artistic effect." Choose a favorite photograph.  Use it as a "study," and reproduce it in another medium (oils, watercolor, pastels . . .). You may choose to reproduce it exactly, or like DeCamp, take some artistic license and arrange the details to achieve a "greater artistic effect."