DeForrest Judd – Sketches of Texas Regions: Big Bend, Caddo Lake, Gulf Coast

Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University

Big Bend is a rugged sparsely populated region of West Texas bordering Mexico that includes Big Bend National Park and the Chisos and Davis mountain ranges.

DeForrest H. Judd, a native of Hartsgrove, Ohio, lived most of his life in Dallas, Texas, working as an artist and teaching at Southern Methodist University. Judd taught numerous students at SMU and at summer workshops in Arkansas, New Mexico, and Texas.

“The Big Bend has been the best source of material for me and I think it’s the best single source of subject matter for any artist in this region because of the great variety of images there.” - DeForrest Judd

Judd’s keen observation of everyday life and nature influenced him to paint, draw, and print his interpretations onto canvas, paper, and copper enamels.

“I’m really more interested in the abstract aspect of a subject than in the image itself.” - DeForrest Judd

Cinnabar Mine, Lajitas

Caddo Lake is a large lake and bayou on the border of Texas and Louisiana that is home to one of the largest cypress forests in the world.

DeForrest Judd graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1938 and received a post-graduate scholarship to continue his studies at the Institute in 1939. From 1940 to 1942, he studied at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center under the center’s director, Boardman Robinson, and Texas artist Otis Dozier. During World War II, Judd served in the United States Army. His academic career as professor of painting, drawing, and design began in 1946 when he moved to Dallas to teach at Southern Methodist University and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. In 1967, Judd was promoted to full professor at SMU. He retired from the University in 1981. Judd continued to live in Dallas and devote his time to art until his death in 1992. 

“I take things from nature and bend them to my purposes but I don’t follow the local colors either. I use my own- whatever I feel is best for the painting rather than what is necessarily true color." - DeForrest Judd

“Art, when properly understood, is in the province of every human being. It is simply a question of doing things, all things well. It is not an ‘outside’ extra thing. We must rid ourselves of this outside looking in feeling regarding art.”- DeForrest Judd

“I often wonder if I’d been able to spend all my time teaching whether, I would have been better off, but I think painting is more of an intellectual than intuitive process and I have gotten satisfaction and stimulation from the combination of careers." - DeForrest Judd

The Gulf Coast of Texas stretches 624 miles along the Gulf of Mexico.

Judd received numerous awards for his work, and while teaching at SMU his work was featured in many one-man shows in Texas including the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (1946), Southern Methodist University (1950, 1965, 1969, 1981), Elizabet Ney Museum (1952), Sul Ross State College (1957), Texas Tech Museum (1959), Fort Worth Art Center (1962), and the Beaumont Museum of Art (1971). His work was also exhibited in art centers and museum exhibitions around the country including, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (one of twelve Texas artists selected for the exhibition American Painting Today, 1950), Denver Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Judd’s work was also accepted into the permanent collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Dallas Museum of Art, and Southern Methodist University. 

“Once I got beyond the student stage, my paintings have always combined representation and abstraction.” - DeForrest Judd

Judd’s work reflects his study of nature: mountains, lakes, rocks, flowers, cactus, animals, and scenes of everyday life that were painted or drawn in a semi-abstract form that made bold use of color.

“How do I feel about the art future of Dallas? The potentialities seem unlimited. The future will depend upon everyone of us."- DeForrest Judd

Credits: Story

Jerry Bywaters Special Collections, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.

Additional Resources:

Selections from the DeForrest Judd Sketchbooks Digital Collection

DeForrest Judd Art Work and Papers Finding Aid

Texas Artists: Paintings, Sculpture, and Works on Paper Digital Collection

Dallas Morning News, Judd Shows Paintings of Nature at Cushing, February 3, 1976

Dallas Morning News, Few Moderns Offer Hopes of Art Progress, May 22, 1949

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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