Ranchers. Cowboys. There aren’t too many of those around most places. They are a unique breed of people. Like farmers, they have to know a lot about a lot of things, from machinery, animals, feed values, accounting, commodity markets, on and on. There is no specialized area of their occupation. But it is a specialized occupation all together. Under that unique type of hat that most cowboys and ranchers wear, they have to “wear many hats”.
A lot of farms and ranches are still family businesses, working together, learning what the other family members know to keep the business possible in today’s economy. I have discovered also that each family operation is uniquely run from all similar operations, varying skills employed and philosophies about their business.
Every one that I have witnessed seems to be the same, however, in their love, obligation and responsibility to the land and to the animals. They also seem to be very willing to help each other in any way when it is needed.
I thought I might write a few stories about the times I was invited into some of these ranches, camera in tow. This is the first “installment”, featuring a father and son. I was blessed with the generosity of the the ranch owners, the hands and friends who allowed me into their work and personal space. Some even had fun with it.
The rancher in this series has been featured in other artist’s work before. He has a natural personality that tells tales and whoppers without a word being spoken. Yet, his skill level is not a tale or whopper. He seems to know what he is about pretty well.
Before Picasso painted abstracts and distortions, he painted realism quite well. I think before a cowboy can be relaxed and play, he has to excel in his trade. I think that because of this man, with the rope and also painted leading the horse.
“The Roper” was taken from the ground, looking up on the cowboy seated on his horse. He swings his rope, placing the lasso under the back feet of a running calf. Cowboys catch the animals, treat them as humanely as possible while vaccinating them etc., and quickly return the calves to the mother cows.
“The Roper” is in Colorado now, private collection.
“Happy Trails” depicts the rancher’s son, riding the periphery of the herd after the cows were herded towards the fences, being held in a group until moving further, or until the strays were gathered. He and his horse seemed more actively inclined that day, than the cowboys and horses that calmly rode into the herd to cull.
“Happy Trails” is in a private collection in New Mexico.
This simple little watercolor caught the joy and spirit of Jim pretty well, I thought. He had a good time in his work, here shown leading his horse.
The background of the watercolor is white, but the only photo I have of this painting was taken under a lightbulb which showed yellow. Ah, I don’t know why I did that when I know better. However, I do have a record of the work, and that is a good thing.