R. Tom Gilleon

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The Art of R. Tom Gilleon

Gilleon was born in 1942 and raised in Florida by his grandparents in the tiny outpost of Starke, near Jacksonville and the storied banks of the Suwannee River. His grandfather had immigrated to the United States from Scotland and became a renowned cabinetmaker. His grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee.

Gilleon earned a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Florida where h ... Read More

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An Otter Time, An Otter Place
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Image Size:
32 x 32 in
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Three Dog Soldiers
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24 x 24 in
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Primary Primitives

Triangle, circle, and square in red, yellow, and blue: three primary shapes and three primary colors against a minimalist backdrop. Primary Primitives is an arresting study of the fundamentals of visual art. In the past, the word “primitive” was often used as a disparaging description of uncomplicated artistic depictions. The label was also applied to simpler ways of life, such as that of the Plains Indians. But the magnetic beauty of Primary Primitives reminds us that in life as well as art, elegance and power are found not in adornment, but in simplicity.

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39 x 26 in
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Limited Edition Print
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Image Size:
27 x 18 in
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Blackfeet Country
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Image Size:
73 x 37 in
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Image Size:
36 x 18 in
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L’Avocat

My daughter is a family physician in Chicago. I had a large original oil of a tipi titled “Medicine Man Lodge” and I changed the title to “Medicine Woman Lodge” when she became a doctor and gifted the painting to her. My son who is an attorney was visiting my daughter and after seeing the painting asked me if I had ever done a painting that could be considered a Lawyer tipi, and my response was that yes, I had painted a tipi called “Snake Lodge” by the Blackfeet. He liked this lawyer joke and I gave him the painting titled “L’Avocat,” which means “lawyer” in English.

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Image Size:
24 x 24 in
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Eternal Triangle

Abstract yet representational, graphic though fully rendered, a traditional but thoroughly modern painting only begins to describe “Eternal Triangle.” The kaleidoscope of color that illuminates the skyline behind the triad of tipis is yet another distinctive characteristic of this powerful landscape from Tom Gilleon. Our giant MuseumEdition™ Canvas at 74″w x 42″h is a Western tour de force for large spaces that demand a signature work.

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Image Size:
74 x 42 in
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Limited Edition Print
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Image Size:
36 x 20 in
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Where the West Begins

Because of the vibrancy of his palette, an often over-looked element of Gilleon’s paintings is his ability to capture the exquisite light of the high plains. “Where the West Begins” is a prime example of the iconic work that has driven so many of Tom Gilleon’s Fine Art Editions to Sold Out status. His seamless blend of contemporary graphic art and classic representational storytelling has collectors snatching them up as quickly as we release them.

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24 x 24 in
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Mahto Tohpe

Contemporary Western Artist Tom Gilleon joins other ground-breaking artists, George Catlin and Karl Bodmer, in painting the Mandan tribal chief Mahto Tohpe or Four Bears. Gilleon’s trademark and powerful graphic style gives new life to this proud warrior in a Fine Art Edition Canvas suitable for either the classic or contemporary home environment.

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Image Size:
24 x 24 in
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Headdress Lodge

Prior to having collected enough feathers to create a bonnet, each feather a warrior earned would be displayed with honor on a pole outside his lodge. The addition of another feather, which represented a significant exploit, even to a warrior’s bonnet was a special occasion for any brave and would call for the display of his headdress.

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Image Size:
24 x 24 in
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Triage

“Triage” is a prime example of the iconic work thathas driven so many of Tom Gilleon’s Fine Art Editions to Sold Out status. His seamless blend of contemporary graphic art and classic representational storytelling has collectors snatching them up as quickly as they are released. Our giant MuseumEdition Canvas at 74″w x 37″h is a Western tour de force for large spaces that demand a signature work.

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Image Size:
74 x 37 in
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Limited Edition Print
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Image Size:
34 x 17 in
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Red Day Butte

“The values, culture and spirituality of the Lakota reflected the state of harmony they enjoyed with the land,” says Tom Gilleon of ‘Red Day Butte.’ “You could consider many of the paintings I have done of tipis as soliloquies, but this one has much more the feeling of a duet, one that emphasizes that harmonious relationship.”

While Gilleon is renowned for his contemporary, geometric vision of the West, when he paints a landscape it is obvious that he can put it all together as well as he can take it apart. “If you remove the tipi, it would still be a complete painting,” he says. “Camp would always be made with the tipi entrance facing East so that the light of a new day would shine through there first, so this is sunrise and not sunset. I couldn’t resist having fun with the title.”

Gilleon’s “Robed in White” is another great example of his landscape work and that this edition Sold Out so quickly gives you an idea of the demand for these paintings. “Red Day Butte,” presented in an edition of only 45, will certainly follow the same path.

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Image Size:
28 x 19 in
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Blue Norther

“A ‘Blue Norther,’” says Tom Gilleon, “is a rapidly moving cold front that causes temperatures to drop quickly. It often brings with it precipitation followed by a period of blue skies and cold weather. The main cause of such a dramatic cold snap is an extremely strong storm system separating warm, humid air from frigid, arctic air. If the front passes through at sunrise or sunset, one can expect to see an intense and dramatic display of color in the skies.”The lesson in Plains’ weather was only a start. Tom, in describing the work, talked about the blend of colors in the sky on the right side of the painting as being “to the north, because the dwelling’s entrances always faced east, even in a large village.” The philosophy, Tom explained, was that every day was a new birth and that if you opened the door flap, the first thing you would see was the sun coming up on a new day. A quick look at Gilleon’s Fine Art Editions (with multiple dwellings) shows that he adheres to this in his paintings.

“Blue Norther” is far more than a meteorological or history lesson. It is a dazzling work of art from one of the hottest artists in the market today. Fourteen of twenty-four releases from The Greenwich Workshop have Sold Out at the Publisher with most other editions hovering just above low inventory.

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Image Size:
26 x 20 in
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40 x 30 in
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Teebow Tipi

So, we really did pick up the phone to ask Florida born and raised, onetime University of Florida pitcher Tom Gilleon if there was any connection between “Teebow Tipi” and Heisman Trophy winning, University of Florida come Denver Bronco’s quarterback. Of course, it’s possible that there wasn’t; after all, he did spell “Teebow” with two ee’s. And, it could be a river near where he lives in Montana; because after all, he did spell “Teebow” with two ee’s. Or maybe even a town; because after all, he did spell “Teebow” with two ee’s.

Well, it turns out that he is just a big old University of Florida turned Bronco Tebow fan that chose to spell “Teebow” with two ee’s. “I paint tipis,” says Gilleon. “Spelling ‘Teebow’ the way I did gives the painting an illusion that it is a contemporary western work of art and not homage to a great quarterback. Actually, if you think about it, when I painted the original, Tim was still in Florida. Now that he is with the Broncos, I could have titled the work ‘Tebow Tipi’ and it could accurately be defined as a contemporary western work of art.”

And the American flag at adorning the tipi entrance? “Did I just say ‘great quarterback’? I think I meant to say ‘great American quarterback.’”

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Image Size:
18 x 16 in
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Robed in White

The last glimmers of light radiate over the Plains as the sun descends below the western horizon. As is common with this time of day, the winds have died down and a becalmed silence envelopes this serene winter landscape.A skirt high layer of snow and a lack of fresh footprints around this Indian lodge, however, tell the tale of a blustery, snow filled day. “The lower portion of a tipi had a liner that helped to insulate the interior,” relates Tom Gilleon. “Fresh snow would often melt on contact with the upper portion, but could gather ‘skirt high’ on the lower portion where the liner separated it from the warm interior.

“I like the sense of isolationism this lone tipi set against a winter’s landscape gives. If you live out west, the idea that at any given time you find yourself quickly and easily cut off from the rest of the world is something you live with. Edward Hopper always did a wonderful job capturing that in his work.”

Certainly Tom Gilleon is one of the most important painters of contemporary western art today and “Robed in White” is an exceptional painting within an already impressive body of work. Order before this Fine Art Canvas Sells Out, too.

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Image Size:
24 x 20 in
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Best Out West

“You can still find this elevator standing outside of Big Timber, Montana,” begins Tom Gilleon, “but the beautiful artwork is gone. The corrugated metal on which it was painted has fallen away, revealing the aged and weathered wooden structure beneath.

“I’d like to imagine that this Montana grain elevator artwork was the inspiration for the cowboy on the bucking bronco we associate with the state of Wyoming as opposed to the other way around. The most widely recognized version first showed up on Wyoming license plates in the 1930s. There is a big debate in Wyoming as to the horse pictured (is it Red Wing, Steamboat or Deadman?) and who the rider is (Guy Holt or “Stub” Farlow?). The Wyoming National Guard has had its own version since WWI and the University of Wyoming got theirs in the 1920s. What if the cowboy and horse are Big Timber locals and that all the other designs were inspired by the site of this magnificent Montana artifact? That would be a neat story.”

Renowned for his contemporary vision of the Old West, Gilleon weds perfectly representative and abstract art. Most of his compositions are simply a series of vibrant triangles, squares, circles and rectangles. His seamless blend of graphic art and classic representational storytelling has collectors snatching up his artwork as soon as it becomes available. “Best Out West” is presented as a gallery-wrapped edition of only 25 pieces. Grace your home or office with this alluring work of Tom Gilleon’s art.

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Image Size:
20 x 26 in
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Two Stars Lodging
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Image Size:
12 x 12 in
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Little Star People

While not common to the Great Plains, the summer months do occasionally draw swarms of fireflies as far west as the Rockies. When they did range west, a visit by the Little Star People to a summer encampment was a treat for the entire band. The magic of moonrise on a warm summer evening became all the more spectacular when accompanied by the dance of these blithe spirits.

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Image Size:
37 x 31 in
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Limited Edition Print
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Image Size:
24 x 20 in
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In the Shadow of the Sixth

“The Principle of Odd Numbers states that groupings of 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 (and so on) are far more pleasing to the eye than groupings of 2, 4, 6, 8,” says the artist. “That is, there is a greater symmetry of design in asymmetry than there is in symmetry. Too much balance is not as pleasing. Since artists aren’t known for being balanced, I tried breaking the rule by presenting six, as opposed to five, tepees. It turns out that the Principle is quite true unless, of course, you place one of the group of five ‘In the Shadow of the Sixth . . .’”

“This painting shows an amalgamation of tepees that would be representative of many different tribes, and not any single encampment. As I stated above, this painting is really about trying to have fun with iconic design on a large scale. I have been asked about the black and white striped tepees and whether there would have been such a structure. That design belonged to a Crow Indian White Man Runs Him. He was a scout for General Custer. I met his granddaughter (possibly his great granddaughter) near the Little Bighorn battlefield.

While the Principle of Odd Numbers has something to do with the attraction of both these images, it is Gilleon’s contemporary vision of the West and its icons that collectors find so appealing.

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Image Size:
74 x 37 in
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Limited Edition Print
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Image Size:
34 x 17 in
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Pemmican

“Abstract shapes tend to dominate my work,” offers Tom Gilleon, “rectangles, triangles, circles and squares. Even when I paint a figure, especially one with a headdress, the focus is generally on the shape the headdress creates. In this case, it is just the opposite; it’s the man’s profile that really grabbed me. In fact, I cropped off the edge of the feathers on his headdress in the painting so they wouldn’t distract from his face. Handwritten on the back of the old photograph was ‘Lakota, Pemmican’ so I’ve always assumed that was this fellow’s name. This painting is about the years, the miles, the knowledge, the experience, the sorrow, the pride and the joy etched in this man’s face that was his life.”

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Image Size:
24 x 24 in
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Coeur d´Alene

“The study of tipi rings has picked up significantly in the past few years. These circles of stone can be found throughout the West and I have a number of these rings on my ranch in Montana. It is believed that the stones were used to hold the skins that made up the lodge coverings securely on the ground,” explains Tom Gilleon.

“There is a significant difference in the size of these rings, thus the size of the dwellings. This increase of size often coincides with the arrival of the horse in North America. A tribe with tamed mounts not only ranged further and hunted better, they could now move larger and heavier items as well. Early Spanish explorers noted the extent to which the Indians employed dogs as their beasts of burden. Even a large dog could pull only a fraction of what a horse pulled or carried. Therefore, tipi rings are often referred to as dog or horse rings, depending on their size.

“There are two buffalo and a horse adorning the lodge in Coeur d’Alene. The horse is painted over (or imposed over) one of the buffalo to signify the extent to which the horse allowed the Plains People to dominate their hunt of the buffalo. I couldn’t tell you for sure that this type of lodge would have been found in the Coeur D’Alene area or not, but this sunset certainly was. It was a relaxing and gorgeous end to a beautiful day in that area of Idaho. As I watched the sun go down I couldn’t help but think of how the same scene would have appeared when the area was even more tranquil and slightly less developed some 150 years ago.”

Tom Gilleon’s contemporary vision of the West weds perfectly representative and abstract art. Most of his compositions are simply a series of vibrant triangles, squares, circles and rectangles. The Native American subject matter provides a narrative accessible to everyone.

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Image Size:
24 x 24 in
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Moon and Saturn
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Image Size:
12 x 12 in
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Cascade Highrise

“You recognize their silhouettes against the sky line right away,” says Tom Gilleon, “they are prairie skyscrapers. Grain elevators are a Western icon just as the tipi is. Today most of them are old ruins, but they still tower above the horizon throughout the West. The fact that they still stand is a testament to their utilitarian architecture, designed to contain corn or grain by the ton.

“Because of the light in the window, I’ve been asked if “Cascade High Rise” is a haunted elevator or if it is really abandoned. I don’t know if it is haunted or not, but it is abandoned. The light you see in the window at the top is not radiating from within, but rather illuminated from without. At just the right time of the year the sunrise will be reflected in the remaining panes of glass high up on the structure. It’s the end of an old time and the dawning of another.”

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Image Size:
20 x 26 in
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Soldiers Falling Into Camp

Sitting Bull and the Plains Indian warriors gathered along the banks of Little Bighorn River did not panic when camp scouts reported the approach of the U.S. Cavalry. During a Sundance not long before, Sitting Bull experienced a vision of a great number of dead Union “soldiers falling into camp” from the skies. It was a sign, he felt, of a great victory to come.

“This painting, thanks to Daniel Long Soldier, has become a far more important piece than I could have imagined,” artist R. Tom Gilleon enthusiastically relates. “I had wanted to give an accurate depiction of the area where Custer met his end and tell some of the Little Bighorn story from the Indian’s point of view. Daniel’s Lakota Wicitowa (Lakota Paintings) of real warrior’s exploits, which I’ve used as the pictographs on the tepees, add a spirit to the piece that I couldn’t have achieved myself.

“The ribbon of river you see is the Little Bighorn. From a vantage point such as this, it would be hard to see the true size of Sitting Bull’s encampment. On the Plains, American soldiers were used to encountering villages of 50 to 60 lodges. In a landscape such as this, it’s easy to see why they would have had trouble seeing just how many Indians were waiting below.”


The Museum Edition of “Soldiers Falling into Camp” is intended to be accompanied by Daniel Long Soldier’s diptych “Day of Yellow Hair” with the first 25 of that edition reserved to create collectible sets with matching numbers. Collectors can also pair the individual prints of Long Soldier’s drawings with the smaller Fine Art Giclée Canvas Edition.

Limited Edition Print
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Handsigned by the artist
Image Size:
74 x 37 in
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Limited Edition Print
 Giclée Canvas
Handsigned by the artist
Image Size:
34 x 17 in
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Indian Sunset II

“’Indian Sunset’ is also a double entendre representative of not only the painting’s strong visual, but of the decline in the Indian way of life,” Tom Gilleon explains. “I have such respect for them as a people. My goal is that my work conveys the beauty of their world and their deep-rooted connection to it.
“The painting is partially inspired by the Elton John song ‘Indian Sunset’ as well. It is a compassionate song and the story he tells of the fall of a young warrior comes across even though the facts in the song aren’t necessarily correct. What is important is the emotion the music creates and that’s how he approaches his work.

“I do things a little like Elton and try to not let the facts get in the way of a good story. I’m a little more visual than historical. Many of the designs I put on the outside of a tipi would more often have been adorning the inside. I exaggerate certain things like the scale of the sun. It would never appear this large, but it is a central element to the story. Native American art does the same. If it is important, emphasize it.

“Color is another powerful component. I am looking for vibrancy and impact and try not to second guess a brushstroke. I’m painting with more confidence. I feel like I’m getting closer to how I painted at age four.”

Limited Edition Print
 Giclée Canvas
Handsigned by the artist
Image Size:
74 x 37 in
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Limited Edition Print
 Giclée Canvas
Handsigned by the artist
Image Size:
34 x 17 in
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