Standing Rock Inspiration

Many of you know that I spent my summers in high school and most of college on Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. It often pops up in my personal work. Minted ran a sketching and drawing challenge this month, and I wanted to do new personal work to submit. I settled on 3 scenes that come to mind when I think of my time there.

First. Wild white sage. Terry would burn sage to smudge (cleanse) before chapel and in all of the cabins before camp. It grew wild on the property and in the prairie behind the cabins.


Two. “Wild” horses. The last summer I was at camp, a few of us went trekking (really wandering) in the tall grasses behind camp and encountered some horses. They weren’t truly wild, at least we didn’t think they were, but they were wandering freely grazing. This is one of my last memories of my summers out there.


Three. Benny Half. In 2007, my first summer on the rez, we had a professional photographer on our team named Scott. He asked an elder at a local pow wow if he could take his photo while dressed in traditional regalia. It was a gorgeous photo. I asked Benny and Scott if I could paint from it. I’ve drawn and painted from this photo several times, and in 2008 I got to meet Benny Half’s wife and show her some of my work. There are so many thoughts and emotions tied to that single starting point, that singular moment of taking Benny’s photo. I can’t put words to it fully, but that image has been stuck in my head for almost 8 years.


These are all watercolors and pencil on 140 lb cold press watercolor paper. I then scanned them, and cleaned up the image (shadows from texture).