Painting the Western Frontier - Roxy Smith

This gallery consists of both oil and watercolor paintings that depict the plight for land, water, and survival among Native Americans and the U.S. settlers on the Western Frontier. It showcases the ruthless rogues, renegades and rebels that helped shape American history as we know it. 

This painting shows the gunslinging cowboys of the west, quickly galloping towards us, but not far in the distance, Native Americans are approaching quickly. The artist painted the horses using bright colors, which makes our eyes see them first, the painting is also balanced by using an even number of horses.
The glow of the dust brushing around the Native American in the foreground suggests that he is the leader and the focal point of this painting. However, the dominant black horse, who is charging in front is trying to escape being roped, making his capture, also his downfall. The artist used texture to show the rough terrain and rock covered earth. Repetition occurs around the bottom edges of the painting through the use of placing a similar item (the spinifex grass) on both sides of the focal point.
This image depicts the settlers riding on horse back, full speed ahead, in order to escape the vibrant fire in the distance. The fire casts a soft orange glow over the painting, which puts into perspective how close the fire is to the settlers and animals trying to escape. The fire in the near distance creates a sense of urgency and helps to create fluidity within the movement. The flow in this painting pushes everyone downward as they are quickly descending the hillside.
The Native Americans are crouched upon the backs of ponies with buffalo skin draped over them. They used the buffalo skin as a way to disguise themselves as bison. In the faint distance, wagons can be seen, which means that these men are most likely on the lookout. The soft, but rapid brush strokes, give this painting an impressionistic look. The technique adds value to the painting. It is visible which way the sun is shining by the way the shadows are cast on the ground. Tints are represented in this painting by how the lighting is cast upon the characters. The warm foreground is offset by the cool blue sky in the distance.
This image represents the harsh and jagged terrain of the west that the cowboys faced on a daily basis. The cowboy in front is shown leaping from his horse in order to save another horse from falling into the valley below. This cowboy is not only the focal point, but he is also the hero of the painting. There artist uses perception to create a sense of depth. The cowboys are staggered in different locations within the painting, observing what is happing before them as a horse is helplessly trying to get back to steady ground. In the distance, the hills and valleys become less visible. All of the shapes in this painting are dynamic because they create the illusion of movement.
This painting portrays the fearless Native American warriors waiting for the white men who are vastly approaching them. They are shown seated on horseback, but they are standing guard with their eyes peeled. They are on the lookout for the white men, waiting as they get closer. They hold their weapons ready for the possible attack. The artist painted this scene using soft hues and smooth lines. The natives are offset slightly from the front of the canvas, while they are looking off into the distance, the artist gives the viewer a feeling of perception and creates the illusion that we are looking into the distance at them.
This image represents the dominance that cowboys had over the town folk. Cowboys were ruthless and not afraid of a fight. The cowboys are shown fleeing the scene and riding off into the sunset leaving behind the damage of their presence, including a wounded shop keeper. The artist used up all of the space in this painting. Strewn all over the ground are different remnants of beer bottles, playing cards and money. Although the scuffle has the most emphasis, the artifacts on the ground suggest that perhaps a card game went awry.
Native Americans had to hunt in order to survive the wilderness. Hunting was sometimes dangerous, as this image reveals. The dust is beginning to rise as the herd tramples over the wounded in order to escape. This makes the visibility for the natives somewhat foggy and the hunt dangerous. In this painting the artist used a vivid color contrast to bring the animals to life. The focus is on the native riding the white horse, because of the artists decision to make the horse white, it draws the most attention to him.The buffalo have a lot of detail to them, allowing for a sense of realism within the painting.
On the western front, water sources were sometimes scarce due to a lack of rain, and traveling far from the river. Water was a vital resource needed for their survival. This painting shows the settlers guarding what is left of a drying up watering hold. They have their guns aimed and ready to shoot anyone who isn't welcome. This painting is very well balanced, although the center in not the vantage point. There are the same number of elements on each side of the painting. There are two groups of horses in the center, two men in the front positioned on each side and three men lining other areas of the waterhole almost evenly apart.
The fallen cowboy in this painting is being aided by his comrades, however this image represents not only the danger of gun shot or arrow wounds, but also the dangers of fighting on horseback. The cowboy's comrades are quickly trying to get him back on his horse before he is accidentally stampeded by the approaching horses. This painting represents an almost mirror image on each side. Although the two men on the outside are different, they are both moving in same direction towards each other to help their comrade creating a unity within the painting.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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