Western Art

2020 Youth Art Contest Winners

Winner of the Western Horseman Youth Art Contest

Despite a pandemic, young Western Horseman fans sent in their best artwork for the sixth annual Western Horseman/Cowboy Artists of America Youth Art Contest.

Youth from all over the United States created stellar pieces depicting stock horses and cowboy life in a variety of mediums for the sixth annual Western Horseman/Cowboy Artists of America Youth Art Contest.     

From the 55 entries received, staff narrowed the field to 10 finalists in the 14 to 18 age division, and five finalists in the 9 to 13 and the 8 and under categories. CAA members Chad Poppleton and Jason Scull then selected the champion and reserve in each division, and the overall grand champion.

Michael LaFevre, 15, of Mendon, Utah, won the 14 to 18 age division with Desolate Symphony and was named the overall grand champion. He receives a $1,000 scholarship from the Joe Beeler Foundation.

Reserve in the 14 to 18 age division second place was Dusti Rose Bistline, 18, of Fredonia, Arizona, with her piece High Hopes; she receives a $500 scholarship.

Third place in the 14 to 18 age division went to Emma Van de Voort, 17, of Lynden, Washington, for her watercolor Raising a Cowboy; she receives a $250 scholarship.

The champions and reserves in the other divisions also receive prize packages from Western Horseman.

We’ve watched many of our artists develop through the years, entering several times and in different age groups as they grow up. Families with all siblings have entered, and teachers have entered their students’ work.

For example, take a look at the records of the top three finishers in this year’s 14 to 18 age division:

In 2018, Michael’s In For The Catch was the 9 to 13 age division champion. Last year, his first year to compete in the upper division, his oil, Runnin’ the Slopes, made the top 10.

Dusti won the 2017 Editor’s Award with her oil, John Henry, in her first year to enter. In 2018, she was the 14 to 18 age division champion and overall grand champion with Left Behind, another oil.

Emma’s charcoal pencil drawing, Afternoon Siesta, was the 9 to 13 age division champion in 2016. Her graphite drawing, In the Safety of His Arms, made the 14 to 18 age division top 10 in 2018.

We’re proud of these talented, growing Western artists who also belong to the Western Horseman family. Congratulations to the 2020 winners!


Grand Champion & Champion 14 to 18 age division 

Desolate Symphony, oil on board, by Michael LaFevre, 15, Mendon, Utah
 “I took a photo of this cowboy at last year’s [Cowboy Artists of America] workshop, and he was such a great model that I had to paint him. I love the calmness of the cowboy, and oil is [an easy medium] to work with.”

Reserve Champion, 14 to 18 age division/Joe Beeler Foundation $500 scholarship-winner

High Hopes, oil, by Dusti Rose Bistline, 18, Fredonia, Arizona
“It shows a man leading his new horse—he looks at it and thinks of the horse it can become and where it will take him in the future. I painted this in burnt umber, cobalt blue and white.”

Third Place, 14 to 18 age division/Joe Beeler Foundation $250 scholarship-winner

Raising a Cowboy, watercolor, by Emma Van de Voort, 17, of Lynden, Washington
“I love the versatility of watercolor and the wide range of color, and I’ve always admired the dedication of the life of cowboys and ranchers.”

Top 10, 14 to 18 age division

Sedona Beauty, colored pencil, by Arianna McCommons, 14, Butler, Pennsylvania
“I love drawing with colored pencil, and I love riding Western! At the equestrian center where I ride, there are a few sorrels there that I just love. I hope to get a horse similar to this one very soon!”

Top 10, 14 to 18 age division

Frenchi, pencil, by Stacey Hennig, 14, Wheeler, Texas
“Frenchi was one of my close family friend’s horses, who recently passed away. He was a shootin’ horse. Through Frenchi, I am able to keep his memory alive even though he is not with us.”

Top 10, 14 to 18 age division

Keep Your Head Up, pencil, by Kash Long, 15, Wheeler, Texas
“I chose this medium because I wish to improve in black and white drawing … . This piece was created as an attempt to inspire and remind others that it is still possible to pursue their passions despite the troubling times we are facing.”

Top 10, 14 to 18 age division

Ready to Ride, colored pencil, by Maylee Thompson, 14, Willcox, Arizona
“I’ve always enjoyed colored pencils and I find them fun to use. Horses are the basis of the majority of ranch work. I wanted to depict a Western working horse.”

Top 10, 14 to 18 age division

Run Wild, acrylic, by Alyssa Wong, 15, Chandler, Arizona
“I chose to use acrylic paint because I love how it looks on canvas—the texture and ravishing colors are truly able to portray and bring a picture to life. … I wanted to showcase a captured moment of the horse and cowgirl in the barrel race, working together, riding their way towards success.”

Top 10, 14 to 18 age division

Desert Wild Horse, ink, by Shaun Seymour, 16, Buena Vista, Colorado
“I used ink so that I could create texture with different methods of shading. I was inspired by Southwestern states to make a desert landscape … . The horse is based on wild horses that live in the area.”

Top 10, 14 to 18 age division

Beauty, acrylic, by Emily Cook, 18, Wheeler, Texas
“When I was younger, my mom couldn’t afford to buy a horse. Recently, we leased our land to friends of ours that own this horse. I didn’t know it at the time, but this horse would have a pretty big impact on my life.”


Champion, 9 to 13 age division

The Great Catch, acrylic, by Alicia Bai, 13, Chandler, Arizona
“This painting is about a cowboy with his trusty horse trying to catch a swift calf, but it takes him on a ride he never expected. I chose acrylic since you can provide an almost rustic finish that adds to the overall artwork.”

Reserve champion, 9 to 13 age division

Cowboy Up, pastel pencil, by Amber West, 13, Kingston, Tennessee
“I like the precision and detail I can achieve with pastel pencil … . The reference photo was taken by a dear friend, Polina Galkina from Russia, during her ventures in Texas.”

Top 5, 9 to 13 age division

Ready to Show, charcoal, by Arianna Ortiz, 13, Ponte Vedra, Florida
“[Charcoal] is my favorite medium to experiment with and horses are my passion. This piece is my memory and experience from showing at the Color Breed Congress in 2019.”

Top 5, 9 to 13 age division

Old Stud, pencil, by Abbey Laney, 13, Weatherford, Oklahoma
“I chose the horse head with a halter because I wanted to practice drawing a detailed halter. I freehanded the piece, but I did have a reference for…accurately drawing the halter and eye.”

Top 5, 9 to 13 age division

Hi, Pal, watercolor, by Caleb H. Toews, 13, Grant, Alabama
“I chose watercolor because I like how it brings the paper to life. … When I saw the notice in your magazine, I got to work right away, because painting is one of my favorite hobbies, and horses are my favorite animal.”


Champion, 8 and under age division

Fred the Horse, pencil, watercolor and acrylic, by Geri Amgalan, 8, Shoreline, Washington
“Fred, the most beautiful horse, fell asleep by the river. When he woke up, it was getting dark so he’s running to his barn and friends. I like to draw with different kinds of mediums. I think a black horse is the most beautiful of all horses.”

Reserve champion, 8 and under age division

Rainbow Horse, colored pencil, by Julia Finnegan, 7, Berlin Heights, Ohio
“I wanted it to be bold. I made it during my art class at home during social distancing.”

Top 5, 8 and under age division

In the Woods, crayon and pencil, by Berea Collins, 7, Iron River, Michigan
“I use crayons to color my pictures in all the time. We live in the woods and trees are fun to draw.”

Top 5, 8 and under age division

Bronc Rider, pencil and watercolor, by Sterling Puett, 6, Kingman, Arizona
“This is a painting of my Papa Sam riding a saddle bronc at the Salinas Rodeo a long time ago.”

Top 5, 8 and under age division

Kia the Wild, markers, by Audrey Loeffelholz, 8, Fort Worth, Texas
“I choose markers because they give a bold glow. I chose this subject because it gave a great feeling. The young horse is exploring the life of spring.”

Find past winners’ artwork here:

Western Horseman Youth Art Contest 2019

Western Horseman Youth Art Contest 2018

Western Horseman Youth Art Contest 2017

Western Horseman Youth Art Contest 2016

Western Horseman Youth Art Contest 2015

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