All Hat and No Horse! ~ The Urban Cowboy

Being at the Dream Catchers annual fundraiser (blog post) and seeing everyone in their country chic cowboy attire, not only reminded me of how I loved to draw horses as a kid, but also cowboys.

Growing up in the late fifties and sixties, I can remember watching all of the cowboy shows on TV.  We were inundated with them:  The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West, Zorro, The Rifleman, Bat Masterson, Cheyenne, Gunsmoke, The Cisco Kid and The Virginian, to name a few!  Not to mention seeing John Wayne on the big screen in cowboy movies like True Grit.

I can remember one Halloween, my brother, sister and I dressed up in full cowboy attire; cowboy boots, shirts with leather tassels, bolo tie, pistols and hats. It’s no wonder that when I started drawing, cowboys and horses became frequent subjects.  

A few months ago I was going through some of the special boxes that my Mom saved for me.  She was a bit of a packrat and she saved some of my early drawings I did as a kid.  I was surprised to see that a number of them were of cowboys.  

Here are a few pencil drawings I did when, I’m guessing, I was around 14-15.  

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I was anything but a cowboy.  My last time on a horse was in high school.  A bunch of friends and I went riding in Charnita, Md.  My horse was named Seymour, and he knew he was dealing with a kid from the suburbs.  Seymour decided he wanted to stop in the middle of a stream, while the rest of the riders disappeared down the path into the woods.  There I was, sitting on a horse in the middle of the stream wondering what to do, when all of a sudden Seymour took off on a full gallop to catch up to everyone!  I was holding on for dear life, branches flying by my face and bouncing up and down.  

After this unruly horse almost killed me, and the first half hour of our ride was up (even though we paid for an hour ride), Seymour decided it was time to head back to the barn.  Next thing I knew, all of my friends were wandering down the lonesome trail, while Seymour took me into a dark barn, into his stall and there I was all alone, on a horse, in a dark barn, facing the wall!  Again wondering what to do.  ☺

I think that was when, temporarily, I stopped drawing horses!  ☺  

In my one self-portrait that I wrote about in a previous blog, I drew myself sporting a brown cowboy hat in my college dorm room.  For years I collected hats and had a couple of cowboy hats in my collection

I was all hat and no horse!  Here is a picture of me in that hat.  

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Anyway, I love the work of the famous western painter, Frederic Remington and other western artists.  I’ve read about how N. C. Wyeth traveled west as a young illustrator, to live and work on a ranch, riding horses and herding cattle, to better understand the life of the cowboy.  His firsthand knowledge of his subject, resulted in him  producing masterful drawings and paintings of cowboys and their horses, making him one of the top illustrators and painters of his day.  

My cowboy days are over but I still love the genre.  I prefer the good guys over the bad guys.  Even though the Marlboro Man smoked I thought he was cool.  I loved Sam Elliot’s mustache.  You knew everything would be OK if Marshal Dillon was around.  John Wayne was larger than life.  I’m going to sign off by quoting Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy trails”.