Sunday, July 24, 2016

Going to Montan' for to Throw the Hoolihan

I ride an old paint
I lead an old Dan
I'm goin' to Montan'
For to throw the hoolihan

The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, photo courtesy of the Grant-Kohrs Ranch Foundation. []

Actually, the lyrics to this old cowboy song are partly true, for tomorrow I'm going to Montana, but not to "throw the hoolihan" - by the way, no one knows what that means. Nor will there be any horse riding, at least that I know of. But I'll be gone for two weeks and hope to publish updates from the road.

This is not my first rodeo, as the saying goes. I've illustrated often for the National Park Service.

The excuse for this trip is that the Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site needs some illustrations and that's where I come in. I'll spend three days touring the site with members of the exhibits company I'm subcontracting to and NPS staff. Then I'll come home and create nine illustrations for interpretive signs around the park.

Ironically, I started my career as an illustrator with this book for Dover Publications back in 1985. It's still in print.

And here I must thank my dear wife who, when I told her I wasn't going to bid on the project because I didn't have anything current in my portfolio showing cowboys, said "Just send them something." So this is what I sent, and I got the job. Thanks Sweetie.

Another image from my Cowboys of the Old West coloring book. As always, I find the real thing much more interesting than the legend. It's estimated that at least one in four of all cowboys in the classic trail driving days following the Civil War 
were either African-American or Hispanic-American.

Oh, the most authentic rendition of "I Ride an Old Paint," that I could find on YouTube was by Woodie Guthrie:

But this one by Tim O'Brien and the Two Oceans Trio is the most stirring, even if he does sing it with an Ozark twang: