Art Gallery: Clark Kelly Price

A member of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America since 2004, Clark Kelly Price never tires of painting the western life that inspires him.

18 years ago, Clark Kelly Price was sued for membership in the prestigious American Cowboy Artists. He remembers everything, starting with the imposing brass door outside the conference room of The Ritz-Carlton in Scottsdale, Arizona, where members used to gather. Price hesitated outside, wondering whether to knock or just walk in. He stepped forward. Then they said to him: He made the incision. “It made me sit a little higher in the saddle, I guess you could say. I’ve always tried to do my best, but when you get into this position, you want to do even better. It made me more aware not only of my own work, but of carrying on my shoulders the reputations of many other men in the past who were some of my heroes,” says Price, now 77.

Autumn gold2020, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches.

Since then, he has not missed the group’s annual exhibition and sale. Born in Idaho, Price summered in a log cabin in Montana that his parents built themselves before earning a BA in oil painting from Brigham Young University. He has been painting full-time since his late 20s. Based in Star Valley, Wyoming, near Jackson, he is a master of the western realist tradition known for his authentic scenarios involving cowboys, Indians, pioneers, hunting and wildlife. His contemporary cowboy paintings are the most sought after. They are drawn from memories of his days as a cowboy in Montana, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming and when he drove packs of horses and mules for ranching. “My job was to pack up all the horses and mules and drive them over the mountains to where our work was,” Price says. Any reference pics from back then? not “I didn’t have a camera on me and didn’t have time to take pictures anyway.”

Price often paints with a limited palette, concentrating on the traditional three primary colors of red, yellow and blue. “One will dominate, but the other two will be there. So it creates color harmony,” he explains. “I like to match colors and let the eye mix the color, not the brush.”

Ambush2021, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches.

The intricate use of gold and blue lends an atmosphere to paintings such as The Houlihan Man, Autumn goldand Ambush. And the obvious attachment to horses gives an idea of ​​the depth of the relationship between man and animal. in Loyal partners, which depicts a moment of connection on a rock with an ethereal sky in the background, you can feel the horse’s breath. “You grow attached to a good horse,” says Price. “They take you where you’re going and bring you back. And sometimes they do it through some pretty rough country and it takes a toll on them… My favorite horses over the years have been thoroughbreds or thoroughbreds.”

Action dominates in Autumn gold, in which Price conveys the different temperaments among cattle taken across a creek, with subtle strokes around their eyes, some animals carefree, others determined. “I do it subconsciously instead of thinking too much about it,” he says. “Some cattle respect you more. Others don’t. Some of them have a certain hatred for humans. You learn to recognize their personality and the way they see the world.”

With credits including Jackson Hole Art Auction, The Russell art auction, and Masters of the American West Art Exhibitions and Sale at The Autry, Price often brings such first-hand observations to his artwork. As he says, “There’s always something going on in the picture, I’m trying to tell a story about something.”

The Houlihan Man2021, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches.

Clark Kelly Price will be participating in the 56th Annual Cowboy Artists of America Show and Sale on November 4-5 in Fort Worth, Texas. It is represented by Trailside Galleries. Visit him online at

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