Rockwell Smith S/N Western Print, The Houlihan
Artist: Rockwell Smith
Title: The Houlihan Catch
Year: Circa 1980
Medium: Lithograph, signed in pencil
Paper Size: 20" x 26"
Rockwell Smith was born to ranch life on his father's 89,000 acre ranch spread in Northem Idaho, on October 21,1955. His early years were spent in a cow camp and he spent his early boyhood around range horses, range cattle and cowboys, far away from the bright lights of a large city. His first associates were men of the western cattle ranges who made their living in the cattle business. His cowboy artist father set Rocky an example to follow, encouraging him to draw and paint what he saw and knew best. Rocky received an abundance of encouragement from his father and mother, who were delighted to see the talent displayed by their son. Paint what you know and know what you paint," are the words of the counsel Rocky has received during his entire artistic career. Rockwell has lived all his life in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Utah and Montana and his intense interest in the western world around him comes to life in his detailed canvasses.
He completed his first oil of the heads of a mare and her colts when he was but five years old. His detailed sketches of horses and Indians filled the Smith home in his early years, and have been mostly replaced by his fine paintings. After the ninth grade, Rocky quit school to become a full time painter. His parents encouraged him to finish school, but he refused to attend and became almost immovable from behind his easel. He has turned out a large number of canvasses in that time, all of which show his great feelings for people and animals and his intense observation of his surroundings.
Rockwell's love of the Indian people is shown with great feeling in his paintings, for example, "And the White Men only Took the Tongues." He has always lived on the borders of Indian Reservations and has had the opportunity to observe the Indian tribes closely His uncles have adopted four young Indian girls and Rockwell has gotten to know them well. He has always been encouraged to study the work of the great masters, including the 15th century Dutch painters, who were committed to the completion and mastery of each work of art. This devotion is evident in the great amount of time spent with each painting. Even after it is finished it is given critical approval by each member of his family who are all totally supportive of his success as an artist. Then the painting is set aside to "distill," and brought out a few weeks later to receive a fresh eye, and possible changes and finishing touches.
Even at a relatively young age for an artist, Rockwell Smith has evidenced an impressive long-term commitment to his craft, and is surely on his way to making an impact among his contemporaries.