“Heartland Legacy, the Art of Jon Crane”

A coffee-table book by Gail Crane


“Heartland Legacy, the Art of Jon Crane” is a hard bound illustrated coffee-table book about the life and art of Jon Crane.  Written by Jon’s wife Gail, it is an illustrated biography of Jon’s life and career.  200 pages long, it contains 209 color images.                           


                                                                    $75 Retail

I work in transparent watercolor on paper.  This medium allows me to express what I have seen.  It is a delicate medium with soft tonalities.   Whites and light colors are achieved by allowing the paper base to shine through the transparent pigments.  No white paint is used.  As romantic sounding as it may be, painting en plein air is not very practical for me, so most of my work is done in a studio.  My work often involves hundreds of hours, and sitting in an Illinois cornfield in a snowstorm just would not work.    As a result, photographic reference material plays an important part of my work.
My subjects are of real places that I have visited and enjoyed.  This is where I ‘live’ and what I ‘paint.’  It is what I love.  It offers a peacefulness that I fear won’t last. 
If someone wants to read things into my art, that is their business, not mine.  I’ve had people point out things from bodies to ghosts, which simply are not there.  What you see is what you get.  No more.  No less.  (Okay.  For the record, I have been known to hide a friend’s name in a painting or two just for the hell of it.  But that is another story.)
I have two great studios.  One overlooks a creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  The other is our all wheel drive camper that overlooks many great places where my wife Gail and I camp.  Both provide controlled environments and good lighting.  Both provide a sense of calmness and a relaxed atmosphere.  When that transfers to my painting, I have accomplished what I have set out to do. 

Artist’s Biography

Artist’s Statement

Jon Crane art is known for a subtle and realistic treatment of subjects from rural America in transparent watercolor.  Using washes and a dry brush technique, he captures with exquisite detail nostalgic landscapes from all around America.  Claiming the trademark of Art That Takes You Home, Jon’s paintings evoke emotions of familiarity and belonging among his collectors and admirers. 

Born November 18, 1948 in Morristown, New Jersey, Jon discovered the West as a teenager on a family trip and resolved to return there at the earliest possible moment.  In 1967, he left the crowded East to attend college at the University of Northern Colorado, where he earned a B.A. in Fine Arts in 1971.  After graduation, he spent the next five years as an Air Force pilot, logging combat missions in Southeast Asia.  He returned to civilian life in 1975 after being stationed at Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City, South Dakota.  Enthralled by the beauty of the Black Hills, he decided to remain there to begin his art career.  Now, after 35 years as a watercolor artist, Jon still lives in the Black Hills with Gail (his wife and traveling companion) in a home and studio that he designed and built near Mystic. 

Jon is a descendent of two noted artists. Alfred R. Waud, his great-great grandfather, was well known for his Civil War sketches done for Harper’s Weekly, many of which may be seen in books and documentaries on the Civil War.  Marine artist Milton J. Burns was a popular contemporary of Winslow Homer and Jon’s great grandfather.

In 2007, Quaid Publishing released a coffee table book about Jon’s life and art entitled Heartland Legacy: The Art of Jon Crane, which is available in galleries that carry Jon’s art as well as other purveyors of books around the area. Although the book captures many of the signature pieces from his career, Jon assures his collectors that the best is yet to come. He continues to travel extensively, searching for those compelling scenes waiting to be captured by his paintbrush.