As a boy, he passed the time drawing horses and cows when his older siblings were in school. One day, he found a drawing in his father’s office of a cow lying down. “I felt like I had made a huge discovery,” he says. “That drawing was a real inspiration to me.”
While his father was too modest to claim credit for the drawing, Entz, who has artists on both sides of his family, continued sketching. He began selling his art to his classmates once he started grade school. “I would sell those drawings for a dime,” remembers Entz.
He loved drawing, but he found the attention it brought him irresistible. “My drawings were how I got recognition from everyone,” he recalls. “That was incentive to keep on doing it, and the more I did it, the better I got.
Entz continued to hone his artistic skills in college, but he wasn’t working toward a degree. He believed the only way he could make a living from art was to teach, and he knew he didn’t want to do that. Later, he moved to Montana to work on a ranch and paint on the side. There, he did paintings for friends as wedding gifts and began to sell some to the ranch hands.
“I had moved up from ten cents to fifty bucks,” laughs Entz.
Entz began to sell more and more paintings, and he soon realized he could have a future as a professional artist. Around the same time, he read two articles about CAA member Bill Owen in Western Horseman Magazine and Arizona Highways. “I got a double-whammy of Bill and saw that he was a cowboy making a living as an artist,” says Entz. “I began dreaming the dream.”
Entz then had the opportunity to move to Cody, Wyo., and work construction for four days a week. He spent his three free days painting, and he began to make even more money from his art. Cody boasts an art museum, framers and art supply stores, which helped Entz as he worked on his craft. He connected with other local artists and leaned on them for advice.
During the winter of 1981 when construction projects slowed, Entz made the decision to paint full-time. “I told myself that I could always go back and get another job,” he says, “but I never had to.”
Entz had met CAA member Ray Swanson at the Phippen Museum’s Western Art Show and Sale. They stayed in touch over the years, and Swanson and CAA member Gary Carter encouraged Entz to apply for membership into the CAA. In 1991, he did, but he was not accepted into the group. “When I was turned down, they said I showed a lot of promise,” he says. “I wasn’t disappointed – it only made me want to try harder.”
The following year, Entz was accepted into the CAA. “I feel so fortunate in my association with the CAA,” he says. “They’re good people and great artists.”
Today he calls a historic house in downtown Billings, Mont., his home – and his studio. He is at a stage in his career where he is comfortable with his painting abilities. “Now I am concerned about content,” he explains. “What is the story behind the painting? I am constantly beating myself over the head trying to come up with new ideas.”
Inspiration comes to Entz in something someone says, a life experience or even a country and western song, as was the case with his award-winning painting “Life’s a Dance.” He has sacrificed and worked his whole life to get to where he is now, but he doesn’t regret a thing.
Reflects Entz, “I have come to realize at age 60 that while success is great, the most important thing is developing character and becoming the person I wanted to become.”
~written by Julie Wilson, JFW Communications