Three years ago I was asked by the creative director and editor of Signature Montana Magazine to create the cover photograph for a new art magazine. The magazine was to be geared toward the attendees of Western Art Week, a week long celebration of western art consisting of artist displays, auctions and other events in Great Falls, Montana in Mid March every year. The magazine staff already had an artist lined up who was to create a painting that would be auctioned off and the proceeds given to a charity. Being involved with a new publication is exciting and I immediately agreed to help with the project.
I love the collaborative process and producing something unique.
Being it was a first issue I suggested that they do something special for the cover rather than just a photograph of a painting. My suggestion was to follow the artist over the next three years as they brought the canvas to life and show the painting in different points of progress each year. On the third year, when the painting was finished, we would then reveal the finished piece along with the artist who was kept a secret throughout the process. The idea was enthusiastically accepted by the magazine as well as the artist, Ron Ukraintez. Ron and I worked out the process and we went to work.
Ron used his extensive knowledge of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He chose Private George Shannon an 18 year old Pennsylvania native and the youngest member of the expedition as his subject. The process of painting didn’t take three years to complete. He actually wrapped up the painting in a month or two – stopping mid way through to allow me to photograph it for the 2nd cover. This last February, we had a break in the weather and bearable temperatures to allow us to “set up” the final photograph. I had Ron stand along the edge of the Missouri River and put the final touches on the painting as I photographed him in various angles to get the exact one to be used on the third and final cover of the project.
This was a fun and creative project. One that not only spanned a few years, but one that truly represented the very essence of Western Art Week. I love the collaborative process. And through the collective group of creative people, we produced a unique way of representing the nature of the artists passion.