Wednesday, April 24, 2019

From Simple Sketch to Masterpiece

The Making of a Masterpiece: The Creation Process
by Jane Künstler

Many people ask my father, Mort Künstler, “How do you create your paintings?” “Where do you get your ideas?” “How do you start a painting?” “How long does it take?”

Since I grew up with him working at home, and I have worked with him for nearly thirty years, I am pretty familiar with his process.

Mort reads a lot of history books to get ideas for a painting. He likes to portray a situation which is, in essence, a snapshot in time that could never have been photographed.  Mort thinks about what would be most interesting to the viewer – it could be an important moment, or an insignificant one.

This example of Mort's painting, Rush to the Summit, shows his process. It depicts Union Gen. Joshua Chamberlain ordering the 20th Maine, at the Battle of Gettysburg, to advance to the summit of Little Round Top. This action led to a significant victory, though they were extremely outnumbered by Confederate soldiers. 

Mort starts with a very simple and rough sketch: 

A final sketch is completed. Using the same method used by the masters,  Mort adds gridlines to help him transfer the composition onto his canvas: 

Mort then draws up the 20” x 38” canvas and begins to paint: 

After about eight weeks of painting, the painting is finished:
Rush to the Summit, by Mort Künstler ©2009 Mort Künstler, Inc.
Buy this Print

Monday, March 25, 2019

Mort Künstler's Men's Adventure Art Featured in Sporting Classics Magazine

Recently Sporting Classics magazine featured a story on Mort and his art - especially his illustrations of Man vs. Animal subjects, painted during the 1950s, 60s and 70s for men's adventure magazines. Take a peek at this interesting article written by journalist Todd Wilkinson in the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of Sporting Classics magazine, courtesy of

Sporting Classics, Jan/Feb 2019, "Beyond Our Wildest Dreams", by Todd Wilkinson, p. 60-68.  Courtesy

"I Was Captured by a Baboon Army" by Mort Künstler © 1959 Mort Künstler, Inc.

Sporting Classics, Jan/Feb 2019, "Beyond Our Wildest Dreams", by Todd Wilkinson, p. 60-68.  Courtesy

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Remembering 9/11

Old Glory by Mort Künstler © 1986 Mort Künstler, Inc.


I will never forget my disbelief and shock when the planes hit the Twin Towers seventeen years ago. Like so many other people, we wanted to help in some way.  Of course, we donated money to the American Red Cross for the victims, but it just didn’t seem like enough.

Not long before this tragedy, my art publisher had made prints of my painting Old Glory as a promotion.  There were about eight hundred remaining.  After 9/11, I decided to hand-sign the prints, and give them to people in exchange for a $25.00 donation to the American Red Cross.

I arranged for print signings at the Oyster Bay and Rockville Centre, New York Post Offices. The outpouring of concern and sympathy was universal when I met people at these events. For me it was an act of doing something and being a part of an effort to overcome the suffering America was experiencing.  We gave away all of the prints in a short period of time, and a second printing of another six thousand was done. After an article was written about the prints in Newsday and information appeared on our website, we started receiving checks for the Red Cross in the mail – a lot of them! Our network of dealers across the country were accepting donations to the Red Cross for these prints as well. Donations came in from around the world.

Every morning before going to work, I would sign hundreds of prints. My family and studio assistant packed and mailed them.  A neighbor volunteered to pack prints for hours. Within weeks we were able to donate $200,000 for this good cause.

                                                             — Mort Künstler

Friday, October 20, 2017

Künstler Paintings at Heritage American Art Auction - Nov. 3, 2017

Heritage Auctions • American Art Signature Auction • Dallas • Friday, Nov. 3, 2017  11:00 pm CST/ 12:00 pm EST  Online bidding open now • Click on each image below for more information, or click here • Contact Aviva Lehmann at Heritage Auctions • (212) 486-3530

Stonewall and Mary Anna Jackson, Winchester, Va., Feb. 1, 1862
2003, oil on canvas, 26" x 38"
Lot #69177
I chose Winchester again as the setting for this painting of Stonewall and Mary Anna Jackson. It was the winter of 1861-62 that Jackson had established his headquarters there and brought his wife from Lexington. They had little time together during the war, and this was the single longest interlude that they enjoyed. He spent a lot of time that winter moving around Winchester, but he was able to have a precious moment or two with his wife. — Mort Künstler

Clara Barton with Walt Whitman at Chatham, December 15, 1862
2010, oil on canvas, 23" x 34"
Lot # 69176

In December of 1862, the small town of Fredericksburg, Virginia bore witness to one of the most one-sided battles of the entire Civil War. After crossing the Rappahannock River and taking possession of the heavily shelled town, Federal troops were devastated during a series of futile assaults on an impenetrable area beyond the city.  Among the sea of bloody uniforms, a number of gray-clad wounded Confederate soldiers were caught behind enemy lines.  Clara Barton, "The Angel of the Battlefield," treated them with the same care and concern that she employed with the Union soldiers. The poet and journalist Walt Whitman was a frequent hospital volunteer and field aide during the war, and was there to assist Clara Barton after this battle. 

Paperback book covers
1982, oil on board, 17-1/2" x 23"
Lot #69025


All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Knstler, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.