The Cowboy Artists of America and Western Horseman celebrated the winners of its second-annual youth art contest at Cowboy Crossings.

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Whitney Edington was the overall winner of the Western Horseman/Cowboys Artists of America Youth Art Contest. She is shown here with Western Horseman Editor in Chief Ross Hecox and Cowboy Artists of America President and contest judge Tim Cox. Photo by Christine Hamilton.

Cowboy Crossings, the combined show of the Cowboy Artists of America and Traditional Cowboy Arts Association, opened October 14–16 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The show features 80 paintings and sculptures by 19 active CAA artists and 44 pieces of functional art pieces by 15 craftsman. New this year, the six champion and reserve works of the second-annual Western Horseman/CAA Youth Art Contest hang in a corner of the gallery on a midnight-blue wall, among some of the best representational Western art.

Last spring, Western Horseman joined forces with CAA and National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum to sponsor the youth art contest and published a call for entries in three age divisions: 8 and under; 9 to 13; and 14 to 18. Youth from all over the United States sent in a total of 116 drawings and paintings using a variety of mediums, from charcoal and pencil to oil, watercolor and acrylic. Judges selected a champion and reserve in each age division, as well as an overall champion who received an expenses-paid trip to attend the show. Adam Greene, son of CAA member Bruce Greene, created custom frames for each piece, and the museum reserved a wall within the exhibition for them to hang.

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Edington’s drawing, Where Champions Begin, earned high praise from judge Tim Cox. “This drawing is a good example of using positive and negative space effectively to create a design and composition,” Cox says. “I appreciate the amount of detail she put into this drawing, especially the detail and accuracy in the rope, honda and bit.” Photo by Christine Hamilton.

Whitney Edington, 18, of Goldwaithe, Texas, received champion honors in the 14 to 18 age division and overall champion for her charcoal drawing entitled Where Champions Begin. As part of her prize package, she attended all opening weekend events at the museum with her parents, Kirk and Jana.

A senior at Goldthwaite High School, Edington competes in high school and local junior rodeos, is a member of 4-H, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Farmers of America and National Honor Society. She also is on her high school cross country and basketball team. She has drawn since she was in kindergarten, working several years under the tutelage of art teacher Kathy Gist.

“When she was in middle school, I could tell she really had talent,” says Jana. “My mom was artistic so I had hoped Whitney would get that gene.”

An avid photographer, Edington takes thousands of photographs around her family’s ranch and at rodeos and scrutinizes them until she finds one she wants to draw. Her winning drawing is based on a photograph she took of her younger brother, Will, on a lineback dun horse her family raised named Bandito Gold.

“It’s mostly his horse, but I get to rope off of it,” she says. “I wanted to draw [this scene] because of the details, and I’d never drawn a rope so I wanted to try that. I wanted to do something, not just a horse or a saddle, but to have both and the rope in there. It took me forever to find the right angle to take the photograph that showed everything and the horse’s eye.”

She chose charcoal because she enjoys the lights and darks of black and white and can erase.

“At one point, I erased the entire saddle and started over,” she recalls. “The hardest part was drawing the shadows and stiffness of the rope. I still want to work on it more at some point.”

The drawing was originally created last winter while she was recovering from an injury to her anterior cruciate ligament. The piece did not make the finals in those contests, so she entered it in the Western Horseman/CAA Youth Art Contest.

“I really like this art contest, because it is strictly about Western art,” says Edington. “A lot of art competitions don’t realize that Western art requires a lot of precision and detail to explain certain things; it isn’t abstract. I can look at the other winners’ art and they make sense to me.”

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The National Cowboy Museum reserved a wall in the Cowboy Crossings exhibit for all the champions and reserves in the Western Horseman/CAA Youth Art Contest. Photo by Christine Hamilton.

During Cowboy Crossings, Edington received advice from several CAA members, including Teal Blake, new member Tyler Crow and one of her favorite artists, Tim Cox.

“It was our first time in Oklahoma City, and I really didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “But I looked forward to looking at the art, meeting other artists and seeing the museum.”

Edington plans to attend college next fall at either Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, or West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. She would like to major in wildlife biology, but says she hopes to continue to do art on the side.

The CAA and youth artwork will be on display through November 27, and the TCAA show will be on exhibit through December 31.


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