I love to paint Bison, otherwise known as Buffalo. They represent life and sheer unadulterated power for me. In many ways, I consider them to be my spirit animal. Although my horses are my best sellers and I love them too, the buffalo hold a special place in my heart and that’s where this story comes in.
My Dad passed away earlier this year and about a month or so ago, my Mom bestowed this bison skull to me. My Dad was an avid hunter and fisherman. And back when I was a young teenager, my Dad went to the mountains and on his friend’s property, shot this female bison with his friend’s permission and blessing. Upon return, my Dad had the head mounted properly and the hide tanned so it could be used as a rug or a throw on the back of a couch. And we also ate this great bison over at least a year-long period because there was so much meat to enjoy!
After he got the meat back from the processor, I wandered in to the kitchen to chat as I always did with my Dad. Our 5 am cups of coffee together will always bring fond memories. He had just cooked up that bison’s heart and asked if I’d like to try some. Well, not wanting to be a wuss and having always eaten the wild game he hunted, I said yes. And it was good and it made me feel empowered somehow and I also bonded in a way to my Dad as we were the only ones that did that.
So, back to this special skull. My Dad put it out in the sun to dry and I honestly can’t remember if he soaked it in actual bleach. (don’t soak bones in bleach) but it hasn’t weathered too well over the years. Hence those bottles of hydrogen peroxide on the counter. I’m going to do my best to honor this animal and it’s skull by doing a proper cleaning and soaking in a distilled water and peroxide mix. When I paint my animals, I honestly try to depict them in a weirdly realistic way by making sure that they have the proper confirmation, bone structure, musculature etc….even though they are painted in wildly bright colors and very expressionistic brushwork. Studying animals live and studying their bones helps me when I get to drawing and painting them. Behind the skull and bottles is a brand new bison painting that I was just commissioned to paint for a woman from England as a gift to her son who attended school here in Colorado Springs. He had been by my gallery many times and fell in love with the buffalo mural I painted on the outside wall. Now living in New York, this buffalo will remind him of his time here in the west and will have special meaning to him. I’m glad I could paint something that brings beauty and emotional resonance into someone’s life.