On the trail with the Two-Bit Cowboy, Craig Couillard at the Calgary Stampede

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” If you’re fan of the TV show American Pickers, you’re going to love the vintage artwork of Brad Holt. Part painting – part sculpture, it’s as unique as the pieces he uses.

Raised on a heritage mixed farm that his great-grandfather homesteaded near Langdon, Alberta, Holt was always interested in art, especially his grandmother’s oil paintings.

“We used to show 4-H cattle at the Calgary Stampede, but I wanted to spend all my free time at the western art pavilion,” said Holt. “That’s really what piqued my interest.”

After taking some art classes at the University of Calgary, Holt started dabbling with old window frame art and selling them at Farmer’s Markets. He eventually gained enough confidence and notoriety to be invited to participate in the Calgary Stampede Western Art Show in 2014. That was the launch pad to be become a full-time artist and he’s been at the Stampede every year since.

“Most years I will sell out but I also get some great leads about old materials farmers and ranchers having sitting around their yard,” explained Holt. “Sometimes it’s just a source of raw material for my art but often it can lead to a private commission.”

One client had a tailgate from granddad’s truck and an old photograph of the homestead that they commissioned Brad to make a one-of-a-kind art piece for the family. Another family had a special window frame from their old farmhouse that was made into another family heirloom.

He loves photo-realism and utilizes an image transfer in the background of each piece to help highlight important aspects of his painting and to create depth and substance. Brad paints with acrylics and hand paints each work of art creating rich and colourful textured sunsets and landscapes. Combining these different mediums creates a striking 3-dimensional look in his work.

So the next time you look at that old vehicle or farm equipment in your yard, or the house that’s fallen into ruins, look closer. Maybe there is a piece of vintage art that Brad Holt can create for your family. For more examples of his unique work, check out www.holtfineart.com

Photos and story by Craig Couillard