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Mountain Man Castle Rock

OK children, gather around, it’s time for a history lesson!

As you look out our front window here on the Lower South Fork of the Shoshone River, which faces southwest, you see the famous landmark, called Castle Rock about three miles away. It juts up from the valley floor and stands all by itself. It rises several hundred above the floor of the valley. Castle Rock actually climbs to 6,010 feet above sea level. Here at the ranch we are about 5300 feet above sea level to give you an idea how high it is.

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As the Castle Rock sign says:

“John Colter, famed among the famous breed of Mountain Men, passed this landmark late in the fall of 1807 while on business for the fur trader Manual Lisa. Searching for Indians in order to conduct trade, he also hunted salt caves reputedly located near the headwaters of this stream then known as the stinking water.”

On his journey, Colter not only discovered this later named Shoshone River but he also became the first recorded white man to visit the upper Wind River, Jackson’s Hole and Yellowstone Park. His lonely trek, compounding the normal dangers of savage wilderness by mid winter passage of a broad and lofty mountain range, lives in history and legend an epic of fortitudinous exploration.”

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Leigh and I had the extreme pleasure of meeting a man, well known and well loved by many here in Cody. His name is Sheldon Hanson. He is 70 years of age when I painted him. Mr. Hanson has the notoriety of leading the annual Cody 4th of July Parade portraying himself as a mountain man. Sheldon actually lives right across the river from Castle Rock. We made the arrangements to do a photo shoot with him. Leigh shot almost 100 photographs of him with and without his horse, Junior.

This is version one of my painting of him and Junior. As this piece progresses, you will see the famous Castle Rock appear just behind his horse. It was snowing up in the mountain range behind Castle Rock that day. I will be painting that and the rest of the background last, as usual. This piece has a lot of detail so it will take a while to complete. Most of my pieces take roughly 50-60 hours to complete. This will surely take a lot longer to finish. Since I have a new hunting buddy, it might even take longer than usual!! What a face and what character he is!

This is an traditional oils 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 24″ x 18″.

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Here is version two along with a close-up of Sheldon’s face and Junior’s head.

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This is version 3.

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Version 4. Sheldon came to my studio this day for his first look-see and he loved what he saw. I am happy too with the way it is going so far.

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Here is version five.

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This is version six. You will probably not see a big difference in version six from version five but I detailed his flintlock rifle, saddle, axe and the horse’s back end. Sheldon and his horse are pretty much complete. A few little things to touch up once the paint dries in those areas. The background is coming next.

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Here is version seven. You can now see the famous Castle Rock in the background. You might be able to see that it snowing in the mountains behind Sheldon that day.

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Version eight. I roughed in the grass, dirt and stones. The next day I will still go in and smooth the background out and finally sign it.

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The final!

Mountain Man Castle Rock

Here are three close-ups to see some of the details up-close and personal.

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Thanks for riding along. Stay tuned. There are many more of my works-in-progress to come.


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