Saved by the Bull

“Protect especially the buffalo, for the buffalo will give you food and shelter. The hide of the buffalo will keep you from the cold, from the heat, and from the rain. As long as you have the buffalo, you will never need to suffer.”
From Yellowstone Valley and the Great Flood

“The chase on horseback, which goes by the name of ‘running,’ is the more violent and dashing mode of the two. Indeed, of all American wild sports, this is the wildest. Once among the buffalo, the hunter, unless long use has made him familiar with the situation, dashes forward in utter recklessness and self-abandonment. He thinks of nothing, cares for nothing but the game; his mind is stimulated to the highest pitch, yet intensely concentrated on one object.

The wounded buffalo springs at his enemy; the horse leaps violently aside; and then the hunter has need of a tenacious seat in the saddle, for if he is thrown to the ground there is no hope for him. When he sees his attack defeated the buffalo resumes his flight, but if the shot be well directed he soon stops; for a few moments he stands still, then totters and falls heavily upon the prairie.”
— Francis Parkman

Saved by the Bull

Saved by the Bull

Gale F. Trapp, 2012
Acrylic on board

The warrior has his prey in sight – the buffalo cow – tender and prized above all, until that fateful moment… the bull has turned. Now, all bets are off… not only did the warrior miss his prey, but in this moment the hunter has become the hunted.

So, did the bull turn intentionally, perhaps instinctively saving the cow and calf? Was that bull even aware of the rider beside him? Did that horse “leap violently aside”, saving the hunter and itself?

Would you have the courage to develop the skill it took to hunt buffalo on horseback?

The Cowboy Artist

“Talent, like birthmarks, are gifted an’ no credit nor fault of those who wear them.” – Charles M. Russell

Of all the Western artists, Charles Russell (the cowboy artist) is hands down my favorite; known not just for his art, but also for his intimate understanding of American Indians as well as cowboys and ranchers.

A Desperate Stand

A Desperate Stand

While he had definite talent, and his mother was actually a rather well known artist in Missouri, he never received a formal art education. Instead, he learned from life itself.

A Doubtful Handshake

A Doubtful Handshake

Working as a cowboy and living life on the range, Russell traveled from Montana to Canada spending a winter with the Blackfoot Indian tribe, learning about their religious ceremonies, arts, crafts, hunting methods, warfare methods and their tribal legends.

Lost in a Snowstorm We are now allies

Lost in a Snowstorm
We are now allies

He knew his subject intimately and it showed – his art wasn’t romanticized – instead it illustrated scenes from his memories.

Roping a Steer

Roping a Steer

With approximately 4,000 works of art credited to him, Charles Russell has kept alive a forgotten way of life.

In Without Knocking

In Without Knocking

Of all the “cowboy artists” Charles Russell is the one I study, learn from and most admire.

Jerked Down

Jerked Down

To learn more about him, check out these links

So tell me, who is your favorite “cowboy artist”?

The Buffalo

“The white buffalo woman disappeared over the horizon. Sometime she might come back.

As soon as she vanished, buffalo in great herds appeared, allowing themselves to be killed so that the people might survive.

And from that day on, our relations, the buffalo, furnished the people with everything they needed – meat for their food, skins for their clothes and tipis, bones for their many tools.”

–Legend of the White Buffalo Woman, Brule Sioux

buffalo 1

“We had buffalo for food, and their hides for clothing and our tipis. We preferred hunting to a life of idleness on the reservations where we were driven against our will.”
–Crazy Horse

“Buffalo were the lords of the prairie. To European settlers traveling across America’s Great Plains in the early 1800s, the prairie wind was a constant companion: a gentle whisper echoing across the vast sea of grass that carpeted the center of the North American continent. Sometimes, however, the rumbling of thunder could be heard in the distance, though no storm clouds could be seen. Then the ground would begin to tremble, and suddenly the astonished newcomers would be surrounded by a thundering herd of hulking animals that stretched further than the eye could see. The majestic welcoming committee made it clear that the settlers had, at last, arrived in the buffalo nation — a land where tens of million of American Bison held sway.”