This is my first painting of Michael Bad Hand Terry. Bad Hand is his given Indian name. Michael is an accomplished Actor, Stuntman, Authenticity Expert and Technical Consultant for nearly 50 motion pictures including Dances With Wolves and Last of the Mohicans. He is currently the nation’s renowned authority on Plains Indian history. Michael’s journeys take him all across the USA where he teaches, lectures and entertains the curious public on Plains Indian history, culture, and corrects many of the myths and untruths propagated and compounded by generations of television and inaccurate historical portrayal. Michael’s mission is to undo the misunderstandings about the Native Americans from history and show the kinder, gentler side of their survival as a culture.
Michael was kind enough to pose for me in Pinedale, Wyoming in July 2006. All the clothing, regalia, props, jewelry and such are made by hand by Michael to accurately reflect Native American history. Michael is careful to explain, educate and nullify myths and legends about the Plains Indians history through demonstration, story-telling and careful and accurate responses to questions posed by his audiences. Michael has posed and been painted for the last 30 plus years by the likes of Frank McCarthy, James Bama, Howard Terpning, some of the nation’s most well-known western artists.
This is day one of my painting. It is a traditional oil painting on 1/8″ thick museum-grade Masonite board. The Masonite is gesso-covered board called Gessobord made by Ampersand. The overall size of this painting is 18″ x 24″. Michael is dressed in authentic Comanche (time period 1870’s) leggings, smock, and an otter hair hat. Here, I have roughed in the otter hair hat and his face.
On that hat, you can see the small leather cross, large brass button and crescent moon shape. There is also a row of small, glass aqua beads trimming the top of the hat.
In the second day’s work, you can start to see that Michael is also wearing a buffalo skin coat that would normally be worn during the bitterly cold winter months on the plains. You will notice that I smoothed out his face to have a more realistic look.
On the third day’s work, you can see more of the buffalo robe that is actually worn with the long hair to the inside of the coat with the hair turned out on the large collar and sleeve cuffs. Also shown is the roughed-in areas of Michael’s hand.
The next image shows that he is holding a U.S.-made muzzleloader rifle designed especially for trade to the Indians. Michael covered the stock of this U.S. government-issued rifle with brass decorative tacks. The Native Americans loved brass tacks and traded many furs and other native artifacts with the white man for brass tacks, glass beads from Italy and other articles they found fascinating, fashionable and decorative. The trigger guards on these specially made rifles were designed with a large opening to allow for this single-gloved finger. It would be hard to feel the trigger or accurately judge the pressure on the trigger with an entire hand covered by a single mitten with only the thumb free. A lot of planning and effort went into making and trading items between the trades people and the Native Americans.
As you can see in this image, at Michael’s side, is his best friend, an 18-year-old paint horse, Apache.
This last version of Michael and Apache shows the snow-covered boulders laid into the background. All that remains is to paint the snowflakes on Michael, Apache, the background and then sign it.
Here are five close-ups to see some of the details up-close and personal. Thanks for riding along. Stay tuned, there are many more of my work-in-progresses to come.