Charlie Dye, CA Founding Member (1906–1973)

Charlie Dye, CA Founding Member


Born in Colorado and raised in the West, Charlie Dye became a painter of western genre inspired by the work of Charles Russell.  A founding members of the Cowboy Artists of America in 1965, he remained a member until his death.

As a child, Charlie spent as much time as he could on the range of the family ranch.  He learned the ways of horses and cattle, and helped drive cattle.  The cowboys captured his attention and admiration.  For a few years he worked in movies riding his horse Old Navajo and spent his down time sketching.  His pencil and paper became his escape.  It wasn’t until years later when a horse fell on him that he considered art as a career.  While recovering in the hospital, an old cowman in the next bed showed him a book of Charles Russell’s drawings.

At the age of 21, Dye attended both the Chicago Art Institute and the American Academy of Art.  After a year and a half, he got his first professional job as an artist, designing egg cartons.  At night, he studied drawing and painting.  Dye married his wife Mary in 1929, a marriage that lasted until his death.  He continued to study art with Harvey Dunn and Felix Schmidt, who became his mentor.

In 1936, Dye moved to New York City where he became a very successful illustrator working for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, American Weekly and Outdoor Life. He used his son Steve in many of his illustrations.  Following a 1957 California trip, Dye returned to Colorado and became a partner at the Colorado Institute of Art.  While teaching, his paintings were exhibited and sold at galleries in New Mexico and Arizona.

Once his work became more widely accepted, Dye gave up teaching and illustrating and relocated to Sedona, Arizona.  There he met Joe Beeler, John Hampton and George Phippen; all founding members of the eponymous Cowboy Artists of America.  He was more proud of being a founder than any of his other achievements.  He was considered outspoken, opinionated and a very loyal friend, especially to fellow artists of the CAA.  In 1967, Dye won the first gold medal for his oil painting “Through the Aspens,” which is now part of the permanent collection at the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Charlie Dye, CA Founding Member