Western Art

Western Musings

When I started working on ranches, I always had a few books with me. I began noticing a few other hands had their favorite reads as well.

Being an artist and child of the West has given me a great fascination with books that have sand in them — meaning the author knows a little of what they are talking about, whether it’s fiction or non. I grew up on Charles Russell’s and Will James’ writings, two fine artists who lived what they painted and had a true appreciation for the West and its inhabitants. James’ book, “Smoky the Cowhorse,” remains one of my favorites, as Default himself knew the horse, horse flesh and cattle. In his writing, you can see the soft spot he has for his horses; I think that’s the part that hooked me the most.

When I started working on ranches, I always had a few books with me to pass the time. I began noticing a few other hands had their favorite reads as well. While working on a Texas ranch a few years ago, “50 Shades of Grey” circulated from tent to tent, as it was the only reading material we had with us. I am not sure I’d call it “cow camp” certified, but it gave us something to contemplate on those big circles.

When I started working on ranches, I always had a few books with me. I began noticing a few other hands had their favorite reads as well.
Illustration by Teal Blake

More often than not, I’d end up learning something from the books I was totin’ — tricks of cattlemen and hands dealing with drought, broncs, cattle that brush up and everything in between. Many a night, I’ve laid in my bedroll gazing at crude sketches in old books and reading about running Mustangs through the sage, making traps to catch wild cattle or how a fella gets by a snakey colt. I like to think some of my art comes from the images these books have painted in my imagination, as some moments within those pages are screaming for a painting all their own.

If you’re after some reading material, and I hope you are, I’d like to suggest a few books I’ve packed around with me over the years that I feel speak to the Westerner.

Book Recommendations:
“We Pointed Them North,” by E.C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott and Helena H. Smith
“The Outfit,” by J.P.S. Brown
“Smoky the Cowhorse,” by Will James
“Trails Plowed Under” by Charles M. Russell

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