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

DeForrest H. Judd, a native of Hartsgrove, Ohio, lived most of his life in Dallas working as an artist and teaching at Southern Methodist University.  Judd’s keen observation of everyday life and nature influenced him to paint, draw, and print his interpretations onto canvas, paper, and copper enamels.  As a professional artist and teacher, Judd taught numerous students at SMU and summer workshops in Arkansas, New Mexico, and Texas.

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.


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



The DeForrest Judd Collection, located in Hamon’s Bywaters Special Collections, contains nine sketchbooks that concentrate on his trips to Colorado, the Gulf coast, Caddo Lake, New Mexico, the Big Bend, and the Hill Country in Texas.  Each sketchbook measures approximately [H] 11” x [W] 8 ½”. The images featured in this exhibition are reproductions from the original sketchbooks and are from his travels in the 1960s to Big Bend, Caddo Lake, and the Texas Gulf coast.



DeForrest Judd applied his semi-abstract designs and bold use of form and color found in his sketchbooks onto small enamels in the 1950s.  Judd became acquainted with enameling while attending the Cleveland Institute of Art where he took a ‘Metalry[sic] and Enamel’ class from Mildred G. Watkins, a well-known enamellist, silversmith and jeweler whose early enamels were influenced by the American ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement of the late 1800s/early 1900s.  Judd won awards for his enamel work at the annual Texas Crafts Exhibitions held at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, which included the Southland Life Insurance Company Prize, $25.00 (Fifth Annual Texas Crafts Exhibition, 1953, Red Cactus, enamel division) and the Neiman-Marcus Company Grand Prize, $100.00 (Sixth Annual Texas Crafts Exhibition, 1954, series of enamels:  Sea Relics, Yucca, Desert Plant, Shrimp Boat, Bird on Nest).  He also shared his knowledge of enameling during this time by teaching classes on the technique at the Craft Guild of Dallas, founded by Velma Davis Dozier and Esther Webb Houseman in the 1930s.

For additional information on DeForrest Judd:

Finding Aid:  DeForrest Judd art work and papers

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

Thank you to Ellen Niewyk, Curator, Bywaters Special Collections, for this guest blog post!

Images: Courtesy of the DeForrest Judd Collection, gift of Mrs. Mary Bell Judd.



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