Artists / Oil

Sonja Caywood

Dayton, WY

“Growing up a cowgirl inspires much of my imagery. I render animals in portrait situations, personifying them in a manner sometimes confrontational, sometimes as a casual conversation or a glimpse into a candid moment.

“I constantly back across my studio as I paint, assuring that thick strokes of amplified oil colors read realistically from across a room. I want viewers to see a representational image which surprises them as they approach closer and see its simple components: an assemblage of unexpected colors and abstract shapes working together as a whole. My work is best experienced in person, as a photo presents only a midpoint between this dichotomy of realism and expressionism.

“I believe that “interesting is better than exact,” and I strive to engage the viewer with expressive brushstrokes rather than tight realism, fostering individual experiences rather than reporting what I see. It’s magical when viewers interpret a feeling or attitude I didn’t intend in the piece; it’s as if my involvement is only a starting place, as art should grow to speak in the vernacular of each person who views it. I’m blessed to make a living on my art, but if I never made another dime on it, I’d still paint.

“I live at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains in Dayton, Wyoming. Terry and I have been married 30 years. We have a daughter, a son, a daughter-in-law, and a small posse of pets. Thank you very much, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, for having me back for my fifth year at Cowgirl Up!”

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