Monday, February 19, 2024

A place you dream about...

This is a commissioned work for a friend in Montana, from a friend in Washington. I decided to paint two things that don't exist in any meaningful numbers anymore: a buffalo wolf and the wilderness prairie of the Black Hills. That's a place I only see in my dreams. 

Lewis and Clark wrote that those wolves accompanied the great herds of bison, like shadows on the Great Plains. It was a great sea of grass, terrifying in its size, and many people got turned around and swallowed up in it. Some resorted to traveling by night, guided by the stars, as if they were on a ship. Can you imagine? 

Enjoy - and see if you can feel that non-stop wind blowing.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

I am fascinated by Indian ledger art, and the tragedies that caused their invention. I have ventured into my own version of it using diaries and reports accumulated by my husband who helped with the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone and Idaho back in the 1990s, a topic of tragedy and hope all its own. These and others are for sale on eBay if you are interested. Even better, go read about the prisoners at Ft. Marion in Florida at the end of the Indian Wars. Our country has a hidden history that is not taught in schools. Thanks for looking.

Saturday, April 22, 2023



I'm getting back at it after whatever latest bronchial virus is out there! Now to avoid coughing while I'm painting tiny things like pupils....

This is a shot of my drawing board (that I'm getting back to, heh heh) where the soldiers, Indians and civilians show up to be painted, one at a time. It can be kind of overwhelming sometimes, being in the company of all these people whose lives were over so suddenly, and who all share the same time of death, generally. It feels sad and overwhelming at times, and I find myself having to leave the studio. I had an idea when I first started this project that it would help ease their unrest, but I'm not so sure. I think sometimes they simply enjoy that someone is thinking about them, but rest in peace? Uh, no.

I'm three quarters of the way through F Company right now. I'll keep you posted with more photos later.


Monday, March 27, 2023

This is not Isaiah Dorman


Along the lines of my post about Mitch Bouyer, here is another mislabeled and just plain wrong "fact" floating around out there: This is NOT a photo of interpreter Isaiah Dorman. This handsome guy is probably a member of the 10th Cavalry - an all-black unit (among others) during the Indian Wars period. You can see the crossed sabers of a cavalry unit on the hat he holds, but it is not Dorman. No photo of Isaiah Dorman is known to exist, although there are a few grainy, blurry images of a man purported to be him.

Dorman, the only black man in the 7th Cavalry regiment, was fluent speaker of the Sioux language(s.) He was a fascinating guy. At the battle he was a horribly mutilated. You can read more about him here:

I haven't gotten to Dorman yet in my painting project, but I wanted to put this up for all to see. I asked FindAGrave to remove this photo from their site, which administrators did. 

Thanks for looking. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Be a teacher.


I had an interesting experience today that left me remembering the words of my late friend, Fred Wagner III: "To hell with them."

Fred was an expert on the Battle of Little Bighorn. I mean an EXPERT. But although he'd spent decades studying and writing about the battle and was smarter than hell, he was humble - and kind. He encouraged me to push through any flack I might receive about my portrait paintings. There would be a lot, he said. "To hell with them," I can still hear him say, "I will bring the roof down on anyone who criticizes your work!" I wish he was still here. I needed him today! He died in December after a long illness.

I kept Fred's words in mind today when I engaged in a simple discussion online over the name of the river after which this battle was named. It was no big deal, in hindsight, but it hit me the wrong way. I was being taken to task for asking a simple question on a forum of experts. I remember reading questions posed on this forum that Fred answered patiently, always reminding everyone that when the "experts" become too high and mighty to answer questions and help others they have failed in the very reason the forum exists in the first place. Well it happened today. I was chided for asking a dumb question. In a way I knew that eventually this would happen because I ask a lot of questions on the forum. Few of them are answered to my satisfaction, which I suppose means my guess is as good as theirs, yet I always hope someone will offer a plausible answer or educated guess. It's a fascinating place to read all about the battle, and there are some great minds on there, but I get my Irish up when experts try to make themselves seem smarter by making others seem dumber. Fred, who was a commander in Vietnam, would request they not let the door hit them in the ass....

So my message to all of you today is that if you are an expert in your particular field, don't assume that others can know what you know by osmosis. If you answer a question that you think is dumb, be the better person and do a generous and patient job explaining things. I guarantee you it will make everyone - including you - feel better about it. And the person who learned something from you will thank you instead of blogging about you.