Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cowboy Payday

I've been painting lots since I got back from the Bosque Conservatory's Art Classic show in Texas. Ann and I had a great time, as usual. I want to say Thank You to Wally and Punky Penberthy for generously opening their home and hearts to us. They have a wonderful collection of art and I was happy as a pig in mud, while I was able to soak it all in. The painting "Walk Softly" sold at the show to a couple of incredible collectors and I thank them for that. You might remember that that was the painting of the mountain man holding a war club, which I shared earlier in the year in this blog. It was shown step by step during it's creation. And though, at times, the creative process isn't pretty and it took a while for me to get it right, it was worth it. These collectors told me that reading the blog on that painting's creation gave them a connection to it that's rare. It's always a thrill when a painting sells. It's even more thrilling when you get to know the people who buy it. Thanks Bob and Billie!!

Painting UPDATE: Sleeves added to Cowboy Payday!

Cowboy Payday, 24X18, oil on linen

Detail View 1

Detail view 2

The idea for this painting came on the day I was talking to Alessandro. He was the horse wrangler at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas. I immediately liked Alex. When he walked into a room you knew it. He walked big, the sound from his boots and spurs boomed off the wooden floors. He talked big. I don't mean he bragged. I mean that you could tell he spent most of his life outside, since he used his outside voice. We started making small talk at breakfast and before I knew it he had talked me into a trailride (O.K, I volunteered myself for a trail ride). After we had saddled up and were on the trail, he told me how he had moved to the U.S. from Italy and that he had always wanted to be cowboy and work with horses. His job as a wrangler allowed him to do that, and he loved it. He told me he wasn't getting rich and that he probably never would have a lot of money. So, of course, I asked him why he did it. After all, his job was long hours of hard work. Why take a job that didn't make you rich? He just smiled a sly smile and with a sweep of his hand to the land, he said, " Out here, everyday is payday". That's where the idea for the painting came from. This is Alex on his horse. Most cowboys are pictured in button down shirts, but Alex liked sleeveless shirts, and he had the build that allowed him to wear them. I had a tough time deciding on whether to keep him in his sleeveless shirt, or put him in the traditional cowboy shirt. Since this painting was all about the freedom that comes with the job, I decided that leaving him in his sleeveless wouldn't single handedly cause the bottom to fall out of the western art market, wink wink. I took him out of the Texas landscape and put him in a Wyoming scene in the Fall. I wanted to condense the idea down to show that all cowboys, no matter where they're from, are rich in the ways that are most important to them. They feel that if they have a working truck, a good horse, a dog, and a job they can take pride in, they are very well paid.

I thought about this while I painted this picture and had to smile to myself. Being an artist who walked away from my job as an illustrator, I understand completely. In the end, some things are more important than money. The memory of my trailride with Alex for example. And the blessing of being able to paint memories like these.

taker' easy, Steve


Karen Hargett said...

I think Alex is rich! What a great painting and I loved reading the story behind it - thanks for sharing it. Sounds like an experience you will remember all your life too - those are the best.

Theresa Rankin said...

Great story and fantastic painting...I love the closeups so I can view the paint strokes....gorgeous work, Steve!

Alina Chau said...


Dan G said...

Another splendid piece

Sylvia Jenstad said...

Wow... amazing... really cool painting... I also love 'September Song'