One subject I enjoy painting that has nothing to do with my own life is rodeo. Rodeo covers all my visual interests; colorful costumes, tons of animals, lots of action, and diverse people in the audience and events making the whole thing a great subject to explore.
My recent favorite event is The Elgin Stampede held in Eastern Oregon every July. I like it because you get to see a little bit of everything in one show. Broncs, bulls, barrel racing, team roping, and a synchronized team riding circles through each other on horseback at full speed to name a few.
Rodeo has a long history and you don’t have to be western to enjoy it. It’s a sport with sporadic comedy breaks from clowns. The people watching is top of the line.
When I paint from the reference photos I collect at shows, the results are sometimes very obviously rodeo themed. Including background signage is a clue, also the bull and bronc riders wearing flamboyant neon colored clothing is very rodeo.
But if those graphic elements are left out of the composition, the painting looks more natural. Someone somewhere is probably roping a cow on a ranch as you read this post and they’re wearing their everyday normal clothes to do it in.
I like the interactions between the people and animals. In some events the athlete and their horse are in perfect collaboration. They each seem to know and anticipate what the other needs or will do next.
Other times the person and animal are at odds; fighting against each other’s goals. I like to play with how much to define the features of the animals or the people. Who’s going to stand out more; the rider or the horse, bull, or steer? Who’s taking the lead in the moment?
The paintings in this post were created between 2011 and 2015. The photography is from The Elgin Stampede this past Friday night.
I don’t always take my camera with a zoom lens out to the rodeos, but when I do I come home with so many great pictures!
It’s a truly inspiring event.