Artworks inspired by the annual CA trail ride go on sale in the Cowboy Trails online event July 14 – 16.
You can’t saddle up with the elite Cowboy Artists of America on their invitation-only trail ride, but you can buy the paintings inspired by it.
The 48-hour online Cowboy Trails Sale kicks off at 12:00 p.m. on July 14 and ends at 12:00 p.m. on July 16. You can preview the artwork here (be sure to check back as more paintings are added).
For the past 55 years, the Cowboy Artists of America have gathered at a working ranch to ride, work, and bond. The annual event builds camaraderie and provides members with inspiring experiences and vistas for creating art.
This year, a dozen of the guys met at the Kimberlin Ranch in Graford, Texas. Chuckwagon cooks Homer Robertson and Charlie Ferguson served steak and cobbler.
“The Kimberlin Ranch is a neat spot to gather because it’s historical. Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight held cattle there. Loving’s old homestead was there. To get to camp there was really cool,” says CA member Teal Blake.
“John Kimberlin had a great spot picked out: on the back side of the ranch on the Brazos, below a big bluff. It’s a gorgeous spot. We hung out and camped, had a chuckwagon. The location was beautiful, and the weather was great. The first night, it blew pretty good — there was a thunderstorm off in the distance. It was early April, so not your typical 110-degree Texas weather.”
For Teal, the annual ride is a nice chance to to get to see the other members. “We live in different locations and we’re all so busy, so when we get to visit together, talk about art, what’s going on in the world, it’s really nice,” he says. “And this was our first big get-together since COVID. It was a nice homecoming and really nice to see everyone.”
The Kimberlin Ranch is a neat spot to gather because it’s historical. Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight held cattle there. Loving’s old homestead was there. - Teal Blake
Teal’s Cowboy Trails painting captures a moment from the ride. “We had stopped by a beautiful lake,” he says. “We tied the horses to trees and broke for lunch. I took some photos. One shot was a horse in silhouette with shadow — a nice simple hobbled horse. I’m doing it with an old windmill ledger, and 1899 ledger for Texas Windmills. It fits the time period and what was going on there then.”
Funds from the Cowboy Trails Sale — with works by big names in Western art like Phil Epp, Wayne Baize, Mikel Donahue, Teal Blake, and Michael Dudash — are split between the artists and the Joe Beeler Foundation, the organization’s nonprofit for developing artists.
“CA trail rides are filled with learning, camaraderie, and sometimes adventure,” Phil Epp says. “There was plenty of all three in the recent ride at the Kimberlin Ranch along the Brazos River in Texas. One thing that I love about Texas is the large prickly pear cactus. The Kimberlin Ranch had countless examples, and it was a visual feast. The sunlit cactus against the stormy Texas sky was a product of this adventure.”
Phil Epp, Storm on the Brazos, acrylic on board, 14" x 18", $1,800
“While on a trail ride at the Kimberlin Ranch this spring, I was struck by the beautiful high cliffs that overlook the Brazos River that flows through the ranch,” Michael Dudash says. “Spring was in full bloom, and there’s nothing prettier than a bunch of cowboys riding through a green and lush landscape. I added the red scarf as a focal point for the painting. To me this painting captures the spirit of a wonderful few days with cowboys and friends.”
Michael Dudash, Springtime on the Brazos, oil on linen, 16" x 12", framed retail price: $5,000.
“An April moon lights the tree-lined trail along the Brazos River as a cowboy heads back to camp,” Mikel Donahue says.
Mikel Donahue, April Moon on the Brazos, acrylic, 9” x 12", $2,300
“We had stopped by a beautiful lake,” Teal Blake says. “We tied the horses to trees and broke for lunch. I took some photos. One shot was a horse in silhouette with shadow — a nice simple hobbled horse. I’m doing it with an old windmill ledger, and 1899 ledger for Texas Windmills. It fits the time period and what was going on there then.”
Teal Blake, Western Windmill, original 1906 ledger, 8.5”x11”
Kimberlin on the Brazos Ranch, Established 1855 by Oliver Loving, Dean of Texas Trail Drivers and Pioneer Cattleman
“Settled this Loving’s or Big Valley Ranch in 1855 and was granted a Homestead Patent by Texas in 1859. Taking advantage of the numerous free-ranging Longhorn cattle and the terrain of this ranch, Loving and Family would roundup wild Texas cattle — driving many here where bluffs and their few rock fences provides a cheap place to hold and pasture cattle, while accumulating a sizable herd for the drive.
“Loving’s early drives were to Louisiana. In 1858, he trailed the first major cattle drive north through Indian Territory to Illinois. In 1866 the 54-year-old Loving and Charles Goodnight, a younger but experienced neighboring rancher and friend, teamed up with 18 cowboys to drive some 2,000 Texas cattle up an Indian-infested, arid trail from this area southwesterly to the Pecos River, then north through New Mexico on to Denver — later to be known as the historic Goodnight-Loving Trail.
“In 1867, Oliver Loving was wounded by Indians and died of gangrene up the trail in New Mexico. Honoring his last request, his partner Goodnight and others returned Loving’s body to Weatherford for burial. Larry McMurtry’s epic novel and the now famous TV movie Lonesome Dove were based upon that Texas and Western legend.
“After Loving’s death, this ranch passed to his heirs, including his eldest son, James C. Loving — who in 1877 in Graham, along with Captain C.C. Slaughter, formed the Texas Cattle Raisers Association to deter rustling. From Loving’s notes, the Loving Brand Book was later produced, documenting over 1,500 original early legitimate regional cattle owners and brands.
“This historic ranch has belonged to the Kimberlin Family since 1941 — the year the first dam on the Brazos River was completed here and Possum Kingdom Lake filled. Coincidentally, the scenes in Lonesome Dove of the establishment of their “Montana” Ranch were actually filmed in northern New Mexico on a ranch owned by the Kimberlins, now known as the Hat Creek Ranch.”
Photography: (All images) courtesy Cowboy Artists of America