I began the tedious task of taking action on my New Years Resolution to spend my mornings on administrative work (like updating my website) and afternoons painting. While there is a daunting backlog of updates to be made, I made good progress on my landing page today.
The image above, Wild Roses, is not in the web-galleries yet. Updating those will be a job for next week, and when that is done you should be able to link to a bigger image. (update: Western Gallery is now online!)
Currently featured on my landing page, Wild Roses is one of my most recently completed paintings, from the body of work that I am painting for the Western Showcase.
I am a born and raised Calgarian. In Calgary the biggest annual event is the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. It is billed as the greatest outdoor show on earth, and the entire city takes 10 days off to celebrate our western heritage. Growing up in Calgary, I could hardly have avoided internalizing a perspective informed by our western heritage. Part of this body of work is looking at what that means to me.
Wild Roses shows a little girl in western dress riding a hobby horse. Behind her is a wall covered in wallpaper featuring a repeating pattern based on historically iconic photographs of Annie Oakley. Text in the margin reads “Legends of the New West.”
In Wild Roses I was thinking about how western themes are typically seen as suitable fantasies for little boys, hence their role models, the Cowboy, the Gunslinger, etcetera, tend to be presented with a masculine face, while females populate the setting of the hero’s story. I wondered what historical western female characters little girls might choose to emulate in their heroic fantasies, and what lessons they might have to teach.
Annie Oakley was an early western female sharpshooter who made her fame and living performing with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Growing up she had the deck stacked against her, but through her strong sense of individuality and commitment to her personal strength and vision she rose above her circumstance to become a staunch advocate for female independence, and someone worthy of inspiring a new generation of western women to create their stories on their terms.