Masters of the Absarokas

A while ago, I was driving up Wapiti Valley, a beautiful stretch of meadows and dramatic rocks in the middle of the Absaroka Mountain range, in between Yellowstone Park and Cody, Wyoming.  Clouds were hovering over Jim Mountain and the lighting was dramatic. I pulled over, set up my easel, paints, canvas and started doing the kind of image capture that I like best: Plein air, or painting on location.   I noted the surroundings seemed untouched by modern life, and started imagining myself as an Indian scout, perhaps a Ute, watching as some Crow braves and their families crossed through territory that was claimed and fought over by Crows, Utes, the Cheyenne and other Shoshone tribes (the paint work is quick in plein air painting, but the mind still wanders!). As I painted, I noticed a crowd of tourists had gathered near me, watching me paint, and out of their hushed voices I picked up on a few speaking Korean.  I just couldn’t resist, and I turned and began speaking Korean to the young men.  They started yelling in excitement, and couldn’t believe that, in the wild, wild west, they found a cowboy that painted AND spoke Korean!  We had a fun photo shoot then, entertaining each other and the remaining tourists with our posing antics.  Back in the studio, as I went through my archives to research before painting in the Indian travois and figures, I smiled at the unexpected friendship and entertainment that added to the fun of that painting session.  I still think of it every time I see this piece!  It is currently on display at the Hopkinson Gallery in downtown Provo, Utah.  Masters of the Absarokas, Oil on canvas, Original, 22x28, price $5000.


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