Hail to the Chiefs


On Day 13 of my 18 Day Painting Challenge, the prompt was someone who died over 100 years ago.  As I knew the prompts that were going into the hat for this challenge - I was the one who wrote them down on tiny slips of paper - I would spent time at my iPad searching personalities from the distant past and seeing what kind of photographic portraits were available. Several ended up in my "Future" folder, the Dropbox location where I save all inspirational images and futures commissions, including names like Andrew Carnegie, Nikola Tesla (who I ended up painting as part of this challenge already), and Chief Sitting Bull.


I spent hours with another portrait of Sitting Bull during a trip we took to Arizona a few years ago. 


All I had with me were a few pens and pencils, along with my little black sketch book.  Perhaps it was this conneciton that drew me back.  Maybe it was the look in his eyes?

I went out into the studio at about 7:30 am and sketched out his facial features on a 16" x 20" canvas, then started painting at 8:00 am.  This is what happened in the next hour.



I worked on the details and colour balance for a couple more hours before painting the sides of the canvas (something I do for every piece that I create) and signing.


The response to this portrait of Chief Sitting Bull has been very positive.  Certain paintings that I've done in this challenge - the portrait of Tesla being a great example - really jump out to people.  Chief Sitting Bull's portrait is one of them.

Chief Dan George
August 2014

Chief Joseph of Nez Perce
January 2015

Chief Red Cloud
February 2015

Chief Dan George
May 2016

Chief Poundmaker
February 2017

Chief Jim Bouchier
January 2018

As you can see, I have done several portraits of chiefs in the past, including our very own Chief Boucher as part of this challenge.  But it had been very long since I did one of the brave leaders from the distant past.  It is fascinating to see how my style has changed.

Chief Sitting Bull, 16" x 20", acrylic on canvas
This original portrait is available for purchase.  All proceeds will be used to help fund the construction of a home for a family who could really use a hand up in rural Cambodia in November/December.  We will be returning to that country with our friends at Bracelets 4 Buildings, a charity that has been changing lives in that part of the world for a number of years.

You could buy the painting outright for its regular price ($500 + gst), or take your chances and wait to see if it lands in the online auction that will take place next week, at the conclusion of my 18 Day Painting Challenge.  I'm easy to find via my Russell Thomas Art Facebook page or by email: russell.thomas@birdsongconnections.com.

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