Buckeye Blake

My favorite place in the West is northern Nevada. The Owyhee Range. It’s the distance. There’s nothing out there. At least, people say there’s nothing out there. Nothing is something. That distance has a real substance—a high desert place that certainly charges my batteries.

My dad was a coyote, in a loving way. He was a rodeo cowboy and government trapper. Everything we did involved livestock. It was always about livestock. We lived way out from any city. It made me very creative.

My mother was an artist. She was from England and came to the Wild West and married a cowboy. They met in Hollywood. My dad rodeoed with Richard Farnsworth, Walt LaRue and those guys.

I think their marriage is the perfect blending, between the sagebrush and the hallowed hall. I got both of those educations between my parents: pedigree and the stain of pedigree.

When I was younger, I made a lot of my own toys. Lots of critters around to inspire me. Growing up, there was always cattle, a barn and saddle horses, and we lived out of the garden and hunted wild game.

My family lived down on the Mexican border, Tecate, Campo and Jacumba in California, when my dad served as a government border agent. We even lived in Ajo, Arizona, where we trapped bobcat.

Watercolors, I love to do; they’re easy to do. Oils are great, if you want to work big and get a big point across.

Billy the Kid, to me, is like Jack the Ripper, like any strange character, not knowing what information is out there that would somehow fill this void and why we’re drawn to that particular person.

I’ve been studying Billy for 40 years. I got a commission on Billy and realized there was quite a discrepancy between all the bad books. It’s bizarre; there’s certainly a feeling you get at his grave. There’s something there you can almost put your fingers on, the ghosts, the leprechauns, brujas [Spanish for witches] dancing around that grave.

Was Billy the Kid killed at Fort Sumner? Yes, definitely.

The worst mistake in my life was sellin’ that blue roan mare!

I’d tell a young artist today that it’s important to learn fundamentals, no matter what style you choose. There are laws of design that we all must be humbled by. You have to study religiously, or you’ll get no satisfaction or serenity in any form.

I’m working on a 30 by 40 oil. A guy just got bucked off a roan horse underneath a cottonwood tree. He looks pissed. He’s gonna kill this guy. I’m calling it, The Outlaw Dobie Grey. That’s a cross between J. Frank Dobie and Zane Grey and I thought it just had a ring to it; it says dust and dark steeldust. It’s that gun-metal blue, that iron blue sheen, that I like.

What history has taught me is research the historian.

If you find a dead goat under your horse trailer, it means Billy is within.


Buckeye Blake, Artist

Sculptures and paintings by Buckeye Blake are shown at Big Horn Gallery in Cody, Wyoming, Cowboy Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, and his own studio in Weatherford, Texas. His great grandfather S. Coke Blake was one of the pioneer breeders of quarter horses, his father was a rodeo cowboy who worked for the Arizona border patrol, his mother was an artist and his son Teal is a chip off the old block, specializing in equine art. Visit theblakestudios.com to view Buckeye’s art.

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