Sure you can run down to your local Target and buy cheap, mass-produced art, but why do that when you can have something unique for your very own? Is price a factor? Make sure to read number 1 and 5!
1: Don't think of buying art as a purchase. Think of buying art as an investment. Art inherently adds value to the spaces around us. A piece of art can literally bring us joy. Art is often what brings life into a space. Art is also an investment because it can also increase in value. As an artist becomes more well-known and their work becomes more desirable, the value of their past work increases. If price is a barrier for you consider purchasing from an up and coming artist.
2: Purchase originals if you can. Original art is one of a kind. It is unique, and when you buy it you get to enjoy it in ways other people can't. There is just something special about being with the original, and something really special about having it in your home or office.
3: If you can't purchase originals purchase high quality reproductions. When purchasing reproductions, make sure they are high quality, limited edition, and signed. Try to get the lowest number in the edition you can get. High quality reproductions can last a lifetime, and while they aren't as valuable as originals, they can still increase in value, and be valuable.
4: Consider commissioning a piece of art. A lot of artist will create a piece just for you. Make sure to clearly communicate what you are looking for, but know that an artist can not see what is in your mind's eye. For this reason make sure you love the artist's previous work and feel confident they will create something you will love. An artist should provide you with a contract that describes the artwork being commissioned, price, payment expectations, and timeline (at the very least).
5: Consider financing. Some artists, myself included, offer 0% interest financing. This is a fantastic way to begin growing your collection. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of the financing agreement and that everything is in writing. For detail on my financing plan click here.
When you purchase art you are supporting a small business owner, and contributing to our economy. Whether you purchase from me or another artist, I want to thank you. Thank you for supporting an artist.
In 2018 I went to a prestigious yearly western art exhibit. This show was exhilarating. There is something special about standing in front of an original piece of art. I was lost in colors and brushstrokes, interesting compositions and heartfelt narratives. As I walked through the exhibit of nearly 100 artists something else started to become very apparent. Almost all of the artists were men. Sure they were all incredibly talented, but there are incredibly talented women artists too. Where were they? Before I left, I got a catalogue of the show so that I could get the actual stats. They were bleak-- out of around 95 artist there were approximately 5 female artists. (I still have that catalogue as a reminder and motivation). I recently decided to take a look at the catalogue of artists for the 2021 exhibit and discovered that after 3 years the stats were almost identical.
Total Artists (2021): 95
Male Artists: 86 (91%)
Female Artists: 9 (9%)
In addition to the lack of representation of female artists, there was a lack of representation of women as subjects. When represented, women were statistically more likely to be young, with a child, or with a man when compared with male subjects. In fact. there were only 28 representations of females, 83 of males, and 77 of animals.
Don't get me wrong, I clearly love animals as a subject. But the stats on representation of women artists and women as a subject (and the way in which the are portrayed) in this nationally renowned exhibit should make us stop and consider what is going on here. It's really nothing new. It's an issue that female creatives have dealt with for a long long time, but why are we still accepting this as the norm? Maybe it's just so common that people don't see it. It is like being nose blind. But it is time to expect more.
Making measurable gains is going to require a conscious effort and nuanced approach. It's going to require organizations and shows which are by invitation only to be more aware and make conscious efforts to bring more women in. It is going to require us to be conscious and vocal viewers and connoisseurs. And, it is going to require grassroots efforts, like Cowgirl Art Rodear, to increase representation and support female artists.
With that being said, I am excited to introduce "Cowgirl Artists of America." The mission of Cowgirl Artists of America is to cultivate a community for and promote the work of cowgirl artists. It is in its infant stage right now, but I see so much potential for our community and I really hope you join me.
Cowgirl Artists of America will will evolve as an organization. Right now the focus will be on sharing art by cowgirl artists on Instagram and growing the community on facebook. I don't have all the branding down. I don't have all the businessy things set up to make everything look official and perfect, but I also know that few things compare to the powerful force of a determined group of women.
Please join me on instagram @cowgirlartistsofamerica
and on the facebook community group The facebook community group is meant to be a place to ask questions, learn, share calls for art, and support one another-- a real community. It is a private group so you will have to answer the membership questions.
Leave me a comment if you have any questions and please help me get the word out. And if you are part of an organization that is under-representing women please join us in this effort. We don't want to fight with you, we want you to join our team to create positive change.
(Note on stats from exhibit: Paintings with subjects in the distance were not counted as they were more of a scene scape and less of a focused subject. There were a couple of paintings that were obscured enough that it was not completely clear if the subjects was male or female. I made my best judgement. As there were only a couple of these it would not significantly alter the conclusions if I were wrong.)
Just because it is public land doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. It means that it is your responsibility to help take care of it and its inhabitants. It means that you are responsible for your behavior and making sure that these beautiful spaces are intact and healthy for the next generation.
It is an honor and privilege to live in Yosemite, and as a wildlife artist it is an incredible opportunity to photograph and learn more about the wildlife in the park. Black bears, like the one above are frequently seen in the park. Contrary to popular belief, black bears come in a variety of colors. People often think that we have grizzly/brown bears in Yosemite, but we do not. Black bears are (generally) smaller, with a straight face, and have tall pointy ears. Grizzly/brown bears are (generally) larger, have a dished face, round ears, and a hump on their shoulders.
For a while there were a lot of bears in the valley, and I'd see them most of the time I went out looking for them. This is a really awesome experience for people, but it also comes with a lot of human responsibility.
Often humans approach bears, let bears approach them, or let bears get human food. This is dangerous for the human and especially for the bear! Never let a bear approach you. You should make yourself as big as possible and make a lot of noise to try and scare the bear away. It is imperative, for the bears own safety, that they remain afraid of humans and do not get human food!! I can not emphasize this enough. Bears that become too used to people and used to getting human food can become aggressive to humans and are sometimes euthanized. As one of my friends says, "If you feed a bear its blood is on your hands." JUST DON'T DO IT. As a mater of fact, it is required by federal regulation to store your food properly.
This means that it is important to keep you food within arms reach during the day and to lock it in a bear box at night or when you can't keep it with you. When camping in Yosemite you must store your food in a bear box, or bear canister 25-50 ft away from your tent. I once saw a ton of food placed in a bear box with the doors left wide open. It does not take much to know that this defeats the purpose of a bear box. Always secure the doors and use any additional latch or locking feature on the box or canister.
Another way to keep bears safe is to drive the speed limit and pay attention to the road. Bears are often hit by cars in the park. Bears do not look both ways before crossing the road, and I have personally seen a bear take off running across a wooded area and across the road without a pause or moments notice. A tragic story shared by one of our bear team members about a baby bear being hit by a car made a huge impact this year and was picked up by news-media outlets like USA TODAY.
In general it is a good idea to read and learn about the places you are visiting. Just because it is public land doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. It means that it is your responsibility to help take care of it and its inhabitants. It means that you are responsible for your behavior and making sure that these beautiful spaces are intact and healthy for the next generation. I've only been here for about 7 1/2 months at the writing of this, and could write a book about some of the ridiculous things people do here, whether out of ignorance or arrogance it doesn't matter. We all need to do better. We can all continue to learn more and hold each other accountable. Often people feel shame for doing or thinking something and then later finding they were wrong. Instead of changing they dig their heels in. There is no shame in learning something new and realizing you were wrong; but it is a terrible shame to learn something new and keep doing the same thing.
If you want to read more on black and brown bear identification check out Get Bear Smart Society's article.
Check out this article from Yosemite on "What to Do if You See a Bear."
For more information about food storage visit Yosemite's article "Bears and food Storage While Backpacking."
I hope you have a chance to get outside, have fun, and make good choices!