I think I succeeded in bringing character and life to this little guy.
Bill Owen, known to some as “the Cowboy Artist” captures the western ranchers and cattlemen with ease. No matter what painting you look at, all of his artwork takes you immeidately into the action of the moment. The colors he incorporates into his paintings are so accurate, you can feel the heat of the Arizona desert, taste the dirt and dust kicked up by the horses and feel the sway of the horse beneath the saddle.
To enjoy more of the artwork of Bill Owen, visit his website: http://www.billowenca.com.
Working the Babies is a drawing that has been in the back of my mind for a long while.
Where I was raised, there were several horse and cattle ranches. I would see the cowboys patiently work the baby cattle, gathering and sorting them. The mamas would get to watch from the sidelines. And soon enough mama and baby would be reunited and their life would go back to happily munching away on grass.
What these times taught me is not only how patient the cowboys were so there cattle did not get injured, but how their patient ways have a calming influenced on all aspects of life.
I wish I were talented enough to own and operate a cattle ranch. To work the babies, swinging the rope just so… snagging another leg….
Instead, I sit behind the fence, watching the cowboy, and patiently draw these images I see. Maybe the cowboys lifestyle is in me? Who is to say?
October has been a busy month, with lots of changes. For the time being, my pencils are stashed. The paper is stored. And while I wait patiently for the majority of my belongings to catch up with me, I sit and examine my surroundings in Texas.
Cowboys and western history have always inspired my drawings, and living in North Dallas, TX offers me plenty of opportunities to satisfy my curiosity. One of the more interesting historical facts that spark my artistic imaginations relates to cattle drives. So naturally, when talking about cattle drives, one cannot avoid talking about the Chisholm Trail.
In its time, the Chisholm Trail was considered to be one of the wonders of the western world. Cattle herds as large as ten thousand were driven from Texas over the trail to Kansas. The trail acquired its name from trader Jesse Chisholm, a part-Cherokee who, just before the Civil War, built a trading post in what is now western Oklahoma City. Black Beaver, a Delaware Indian scout and friend of Chisholm, had led Union soldiers north into Kansas along part of the route after the federal government abandoned Indian Territory to the Confederates at the beginning of the Civil War.
In the Beginning
By 1853, Texas cattle were being driven into Missouri, where local farmers began blocking herds and turning them back because the Texas longhorns carried ticks that caused diseases in other types of cattle. Violence, vigilante groups, and cattle rustling caused further problems for the drivers. By 1859, the driving of cattle was outlawed in many Missouri jurisdictions. By the end of the Civil War, most cattle were being moved up the western branch of trail at Red River Station in Montague County, Texas.
In 1866, cattle in Texas were worth only $4 per head, compared to over $40 per head in the North and East, because lack of market access during the American Civil War had led to increasing number of cattle in Texas.
In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy built stockyards in Abilene, Kansas. He encouraged Texas cattlemen to drive their herds to his stockyards. The stockyards shipped 35,000 head that year and became the largest stockyards west of Kansas City, Kansas.
By the end of the Civil War, Union and Confederate forces had consumed most of the beef east of the Mississippi. Up until then, pork had been the leading meat source in ordinary diets and now, millions of people had developed a taste for beef. As a result, when it was available, a steer would go for as much as $50 a head back east. During the Civil War, untended herds of wild longhorns multiplied by the millions. Texas ranchers had become “cattle-poor”. Though thousands of cattle roamed the ranches, ranchers considered themselves lucky if they could get $3 a head. The shortage of beef in the East, together with an increasing taste for it, created a demand that promised great profits if the cattle-poor ranchers could get their herds to the eastern cattle markets.
That same year, O. W. Wheeler answered McCoy’s call, and he along with partners used the Chisholm Trail to bring a herd of 2,400 steers from Texas to Abilene. This herd was the first of an estimated 5,000,000 head of Texas cattle to reach Kansas over the Chisholm Trail.
The trail developed by Jesse Chisholm assisted cattle ranchers starting from either the Rio Grande or San Antonio, Texas. Through Oklahoma, the Chisholm Trail generally followed the route of US Highway 81 through present-day towns of El Reno, Duncan, and Enid. Eventually the herds of cattle would reach Kansas and went to the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway in Abilene, Kansas, where the cattle would be sold and shipped eastward.
Thus, the legendary Chisholm Trail was born and in years to come a love affair with the old west and the American Cowboy would spread across our country and around the world that continues today.
As a self-confessed dreamer, I had always hoped to be born when cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail were still an everyday occurence.
While working on this drawing, I started reading a book that I found quite wonderful. Here is an excerpt from the book, The American Past: A Survey of American History, by Joseph R. Conlin:
“It took 3 to 4 months to drive a herd of cattle from the vicinity of San Antonio to a railhead town in Kansas. For a young man to be asked to join a trail crew was a great honor.
The crew for a long drive consisted of a foreman, or a trail boss; a Segundo, who took over when the trail boss was absent, a cook (who was an older man), a wrangler who was in charge of the remuda (the herd of spare horses that accompanied the expedition) that consisted of ten to twelve mounts for each hand.
A herd, mostly consisting of steers moved 10 to 15 miles a day. The cattle grazed while the herd was halted specifically to keep the weight on the cattle, and for lunch and dinner breaks. Two cowboys rode “lead” or “point”, carefully staying to either side of the milling herd so as to be out of the way if the cattle should spook into a stampede. Four rode “swing” and “flank” in pairs alongside the herd. Two or three cowboys rode “drag” behind the herd to keep it moving and to ride after any stragglers.
Each position had its own peculiarities. Riding point was considered the most prestigious and pleasant in terms of dust and odors, but it was also the most dangerous. Riding drag was the safest and most undesirable, due to the dust and odors. Riding flank and swing were the easiest and safest on the horses.”
And with that, I wipe my face from the dust and dirt, and sit back to enjoy the ride… until next time.
Wolves are wild carnivore members of the dog family (Canidae). They are believed to be ancestors of the domestic dog, which evolved separately more than 20,000 years ago. Only two species of wolves remain today — the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) — also called the Timber Wolf — and the Red Wolf (Canis rufus).
The Gray Wolf is the best-known species and still inhabits some areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Some taxonomists contend there are as many as 30 subspecies of the Gray Wolf. One of these, the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is the only wolf indigenous to the Southwestern Deserts. Because of human persecution and habitat destruction it has been eliminated from much of its original range.
In North America, the Gray Wolf is now found primarily in Canada and Alaska, with much smaller numbers in Minnesota. In 1995 wolves were reintroduced in wilderness areas of the northern Rocky Mountains. A small population of the sub-species Mexican Wolf once existed in higher elevations of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts of Mexico but is now extinct in its native habitat.
The Mexican Wolf is the rarest, southernmost and most genetically distinct sub-species of the Gray Wolf in North America. It is also one of the smallest sub-species, reaching an overall length no greater than 4.5 feet and a height maximum of about 32 inches.
Until recent times, the Mexican Wolf ranged the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts from central Mexico to western Texas, southern New Mexico and central Arizona. By the the turn of the century, reduction of natural prey like deer and elk caused many wolves to begin attacking domestic livestock, which led to intensive efforts by government agencies and individuals to eradicate the Mexican Wolf.
These efforts were very successful, and by the 1950s, the Mexican Wolf had been eliminated from the wild. In 1976, the Mexican Gray Wolf was declared an endangered species and has remained so ever since. Less than 200 Mexican Wolves now survive in zoos and museums due to successful captive breeding programs.
In March 1997, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior authorized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to begin reintroducing Mexican Wolves into the Blue Range area of Arizona. The overall objective of this program is to reestablish 100 Mexican Wolves in the Apache and Gila National Forests of of Arizona and New Mexico by 2005.
After reading this article, I had the strongest desire to draw the Mexican Gray Wolf, and educate the public that the Wolf can co-exist right along with us.
Want to see my drawing in person? It will be on display for show or sale at the Phippen Art Show in Prescott, AZ on Memorial Day Weekend this coming weekend!
Moving the cattle across Cuyama River during the winter. A cowboy’s work is not always fun, but the animals still need to be moved.