Capturing the essence of the western lifestyle through a horse or human portrait, then communicating mood and feeling through lighting is really what western artist Vicki Catapano excels at. Her work will be highlighted at this year’s Cattlemen’s Western Art Show and Sale, as she is the featured artist.
Fan of Native American Indians and the Vaquero Life
Looking at her work one can easily deduce she is a fan of Native American Indians and the Vaquero life where she specializes in horse and human portraits. “I am a portrait artist,” Vicki explains. “So I like to spend time with my subjects to get to know them.”
Vicki’s love for this genre grew from her riding experiences as a Cal Poly student where she was an Animal Science major. Bringing her horse with her to College enabled her to meet Henry (Hank) Peterson, a local cattle rancher in Los Osos who introduced her to the Vaquero style of riding. “He had a small ranch where he ran cattle,” she described her connection. “I learned so much by riding with him to gather cattle in the mountainous terrain of Los Osos.”
“Now I paint horses as they just simply got costly,” mentions Vicki regarding her current horse status. Recognizing the character in animals became a habit of hers while working at an animal auction in Nevada. She studied the animals for sale and realized, “They have so much character.” Capturing the animal’s essence became a focus of her painting journey.
Vicki Catapano and her Painting Journey
Sketching horses and people as a third and fourth grader, Vicki’s talents became apparent. Her peers and teachers began to recognize her art talent which encouraged her to continue to draw and paint. Studying painting books, seeking out instruction from mentors and private artists, plus instruction from Art Schools all fed into her talent.
Break Down Everything into Shapes
Horses and human faces are two of the hardest things to draw and paint. Not to Vicki though, “You just break everything down into shapes. Everything has a shape. I don’t think of it as a horse and a person, just shapes.” So how do the shapes become a painting? “Every painting begins to paint itself. I don’t have a set routine when I stare at that white canvas. I just start with ideas and then it goes in a different direction.”
Inspiration for her focus on western art came from studying works by Charles Russell and Frederic Remington, artists famous for depicting the American Old West. A stagecoach was the subject of her first western painting. Vicki tells the story of that first painting, which was also the first painting she ever sold, “I loved the stagecoach so I painted an ambush scene.”
Experiences Native American Indians in Their World
Today, she paints from photographs she takes to develop her reference material. She experiences her Native American Indian subjects as a participant in their Pow Wows. “I’ve come to know them as personal friends,” Vicki describes. “I love the spirit of the Native American and especially love to paint the kids. They are so innocent, fresh and uninhibited.” Vicki talks with her subjects and they have learned to trust, welcome and respect her.
Love of the Cowboy Lifestyle
On the other hand, her love of horses and the cowboy lifestyle continues to provide her with subjects for paintings of horses and cowboys. “It is so important for me to capture their tradition, with special attention paid to accuracy,” Vicki mentions. “Because theirs is a dying lifestyle and I paint my cowboy paintings to preserve their legacy.”
See Vicki Catapano’s Work at the Cattlemen’s Western Art Show and Sale March 29-31, 2019
Make a point of stopping by Vicki Catapano’s booth at the upcoming Cattlemen’s Western Art Show and Sale March 29-31, 2019 at the Paso Robles Event Center. You’ll experience first-hand the beauty and intrigue of the Native American Indians and Vaquero lifestyles through their portraits.
Friday night March 29, 2019 5:00-9:00 pm is the Artist’s Reception where 50 western artists will be available to discuss their art and meet with attendees. San Luis Obispo Cattlemen’s Association barbeques some tasty hors d’oeuvres, a no-host bar plus several local wineries (Ancient Peaks and Vintage Cowboy will be among them) pour tastes of their delights. Cost to attend the Friday night Artist’s Reception is $20.00 at the door.
The show and sale continues Saturday, March 30 10:00-5:00 and Sunday, March 31, 10:00-3:00 as the Western artwork remains on display and for purchase. Show entrance is free on Saturday and Sunday. A Santa Maria style BBQ lunch cooked up by the Cattlemen’s Association will be available for $10.00 a plate both weekend days. A no-host bar will be pouring drinks with proceeds benefiting the Cattlemen’s Association Youth Ag Projects.