Bar HL is my brand. It is not just a tool used to indicate ownership of livestock, but as an only and adopted child it has grounded me and given me direction in my life. Living in rural Southeastern Montana, I am surrounded by ranching and brands. Bar HL is now my brand. It carries a journey and a history within its lines, it’s something that I am connected to and can creatively influence its future. Someday it will belong to my daughter. A brand for me is not just a hot iron on a hide; it is an identifying mark that relates to clothing, tools, paper, brushes, breeds of horses and chickens, kinds of flowers and so many other things that I am wildly picky about.
My ideas for what I create are as diverse as my interests. All of my engravings on clay board include animals, and I try my best to capture the life and spirit of each animal. I pay particular attention to the eyes. I carry a camera around with me often to capture the beauty of my world that I live in. Every photo has a story to tell, some stay photos; others become reference images for my paintings. I am ever so lucky to teach high school art; from day to day I have the luxury of working in at least 5 or 6 different mediums. Choosing just one is like asking an art teacher “whats your favorite color?” It is almost impossible question to answer, I love them all, I love art!
Many of my painted works include boots, of every size and color. As a teen in the 90’s when colored jeans and boots were in, one could say that it looked like a rainbow exploded in my closet. That love of colorful western fashion spilled over into my passion for rodeo queen pageants, where colorful clothes and boots come into play, encrusted with sequins an rhinestones. The queen world is full of feminine color, smart cowgirls, and amazingly intricate details. Not only have I been involved in the pageantry of the rodeo world as a queen, but also as a dust or mud covered contestant, competing in several events. Now I’m married to a former saddle bronc rider turned team roper. Not surprisingly, I love to paint and create rodeo images, ranching, and the western equine world.
My brand of painting style was heavily influenced in college under the direction of a master water colorist John Pollock, who taught me how to achieve the details and colors that I love. While working towards my degree in art education, I spent a lot of time in art history classes. While I admire aspects of several art movements, none seemed to have captured my attention as much as Art Nouveau; a time period that sometimes does not even get its own page in the art history texts. I fell hopelessly in love with the work of Alphonse Muchas’ flowing lines, details, flowers, beautiful women, and their fantastic costumes have forever captivated my imagination.
My inspirations give my work a feel of “Art Nouveau meets contemporary illustration in the rural American West.” I’m drawn to details and color, so I closely explore the little things that connect eras divided by decades. My Bar HL brand is a symbol that ties me to my family, my heritage, the livestock that wear it, and the land that they graze. From the adopted kid that never felt like she belonged to a woman who now knows that family consists of those who love you, a brand can mean so many different things. For now it is my icon of the American West that I wish to preserve for future generations and share with those whom may never directly walk a mile in my colorful boots.