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Paul Calle

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Paul Calle           
Paul Calle
1928 - 2010

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Paul Calle was a master of both the oil painting and the pencil drawing. His drawings — often very large — showed incredible control and sensitivity; they had the quality of fine etchings. Few contemporary artists had attained greater mastery of the pencil than Calle, who shared his skills in his book, The Pencil, a record of his odyssey as "an artist with a pencil." It has been translated into French, Chinese and Russian. Calle's oil paintings, finely detailed panoramic landscapes of the majestic West, often took several years to complete. Another book of his art, Paul Calle: An Artist's Journey was awarded the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award for Fine Arts in 1993.

Here was an Artist whose career strongly reflected the dramatic era in which he lived and worked. Paul lived in Connecticut, but when he was chairman of the Department of Interior's 'Artist in the Parks' program, Paul traveled widely throughout the West. According to Paul, "The portrayal of Western Art is not a romantic adventure, but a realistic challenge - a personal commitment to portray America’s past."


Calle‘s magnificent art portrayed the human spirit, paying tribute to the trailblazers. Whether it was the first astronauts or those largely forgotten and unsung heroes, the North American trappers of the early 1800's. These were the men who blazed trails through mountains, navigated unnamed rivers, and trapped in lonely streams and meadows. Despite their rough existence, they carried the Bible and Shakespeare with them to read around the campfire at day's end. They lived solitary lives, and most of them died unknown, before the age of 35, with records of their exploits, discoveries and stories unrecorded. The style of Calle celebrated their quiet courage and rugged dignity amid the frontier wilderness. Not only was he able to envision how scenes from their lives might have looked, but he rendered his visions with elaborate detail and historical accuracy.

His art filled a void in our visual history. With his pencils and his oils, he captured scenes that preceded film, with results that no camera could ever duplicate. NASA recognized Calle‘s unique ability to interpret history. In the sixties, he was commissioned to document America's early space missions. Millions witnessed those historic moments when man first set foot on the moon. They watched as shadowy black-and-white images of the astronauts bobbed across their televisions in 1969. But with his mind's eye, Calle saw the moment in color. His painting, "The Great Moment" conveys its magnitude, capturing not only the image, but the emotion as well.


He chronicled many behind the scenes space launch images and captured for posterity artistic interpretations of the events to give a human touch to the mechanical photos and video.  He was the only artist allowed to shadow the Apollo 11 crew on the morning of their launch of this historic flight, resulting in a portfolio the cameras never saw.

Calle painted man in relation to his environment, moments when man pauses, alone, to consider his surroundings. "The faces tell the story," he said. Like a good book, the art of Paul Calle draws you in, to experience the moment. "My paintings convey a certain period of history. Collectors tell me that they feel that they could be there; that they could be sitting around the campfire in 'Fireside Companions' or in the scene with 'The Storyteller of the Mountains'. They're buying an emotional feeling. I convey what I see, and it attracts them to my work."


His painstaking attention to detail involved hours of research, collecting historic artifacts and retracing the footsteps of his subjects, all before committing the scene to pencil on paper or oil on panel. Still, Calle, a disciplined artist and a perfectionist, was never completely satisfied with his spectacular results.


You can view and purchase his signed Lithographs, etchings, and Giclee art at Knottywood Treasures by going to: "View and Purchase Art" .


Calle’s art is well known throughout the U.S. as well as in the former Soviet Union, Sweden and Poland. His work can be found in both corporate and private collections and in the permanent collections of several institutions such as The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, The National Portrait Gallery, The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the U.S. Department of the Interior. He’s received top honors such as the Nona Jean Hulsey Buyer’s Choice Award at the Prix de West Invitational.


Billions of pieces of Paul's artwork have been purchased and viewed all over the world but few people know him as the artist. Paul was an internationally renowned stamp designer of many United States stamp designs. To see an illustrated listing of his stamp designs go to: "Paul Calle Stamp Designs". It's not unusual for 20 or 30 million copies of a postage stamp to be printed; therefore a stamp artist's work may be the most reproduced artwork of any kind in the world. There were 150 Billion stamps produced for his design for the 10c First Man on the Moon Stamp, Scott catalog number C76.


Calle had designed more than 30 stamps in as many years. Among this noted artist’s many distinctions was the First Man on the Moon stamp and later the 25th. Anniversary stamps of the Moon Landing. Other Calle stamps included those honoring Helen Keller, Clara Maass, Robert Frost, Douglas MacArthur, Pearl Buck and Frederic Remington. In addition to these, he had designed stamps depicting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the International Year of the Child in 1979 and promoting causes such as Volunteerism and encouraging early cancer detection. Calle also designed the U.S. Postal Service’s first twin stamp commemorating the successful Gemini Space Walk, Scott 1331-1332. 


While growing up, Chris Calle, (see his Biography also on the Knottywood Treasures website), often sketched with his father, Paul, who continued to be a constant source of knowledge and inspiration for him. The two shared a studio in Connecticut. Chris inherited the talent and was continually nurtured by his father, ensuring a long tradition of the finest in American art.

As mentioned earlier, Paul designed the 10c, "First Man on the Moon stamp,  Paul and Chris CalleChris designed the $2.40 Priority stamp design for the 20th Anniversary of the first landing on the moon and father and son worked together on the 25th Anniversary of the Moon Landing stamp design. You can view a listing of Paul and Chris's stamp designs elsewhere on our website under stamp designers.

This father and son team of stamp designers was a philatelic event that will most likely never be repeated by any other stamp designers. Aside from stamp designs, Paul also designed first day cover cachets for the enjoyment of collectors. He designed the Fleetwood cachet for Scott C76 for instance. Knottywood Treasures has a few of these Fleetwood fdc's available signed. (See "What's a FDC?" on the Knottywood Treasures website to see an explanation of "Cachet") Knottywood Treasures also has a very limited number of both Paul and Chris's stamp and cachet designs autographed by them on first day cover available for sale. View our listing of signed covers HERE.

Scott C76 signed by Paul CallePaul Calle signed, Scott 2841BJ 25th Ann. of the Moon Landing
                Scott C76 signed by Paul Calle                               Scott 2841BJ 25th.Ann Moon Landing - signed

Paul Calle Lithograph - The Great Moment
The Great Moment

Paul Calle Lithograph - Chief of the DakotaNavajo MadonnaThe Trapper
Chief of the Dakota           Navajo Madonna        The Trapper


Paul and Chris Calle collaborated on these brilliantly colored Apollo 11 launch commemorative

 postal covers for the 25th anniversary of Apollo 11, in 1994.


Paul Calle - We Came in Peace Paul Calle - Apollo 11 Launch


We Came In Peace

Apollo 11 Launch