"Cherokee Pine" (above) is a pure bred Red Angus bull from the Meyer Company Ranch. This animal helped establish the beginning of the ranch progeny and also helped me begin this painting. Unlike most of my paintings, I couldn't show the step-by-step of this image in real time because it was a surprise birthday gift for the ranch owner, Bob Meyer, from his wife and ranch owner, Britt Meyer. After interviewing Britt, and reading a number of articles on Bob, it became apparent that Bob Meyer was, and is, clearly ahead of the times on a number of levels. His animal handling protocol, raising cattle in a holistic environment with humane treatment, proper nutrition and loving care is at the top of industry standards and unparalled. I wanted to show Bob's unique approach to life on the ranch and life in general.

I decided to take the silhouette of "Cherokee Pine" and the Meyer logo and design a unique wallpaper for my painting "He's Ahead Of The Times".

I started by building a two-walled stage for my image. I positioned the bull image and the logo on the walls, leaving a space on the upper left side for a window.

Representing the 'Times' in the painting's title, clocks were hung on both walls. I have a very cool cowboy clock (representing the ranch), a chef clock (representing Meyer foods) and other clocks to complement the arrangement. The clocks have all been set for 2:07 p.m. to represent Bob's birthday, February 7. I'll take this prop display outside to get some sun on it and try to get some dramatic lighting.

With the display outside, I rotate it until I get the lighting I need.

Britt filled me in on some authors that Bob likes, so I made some book jackets and arranged the books. Note the book on the top of the stack. It's Humane Livestock Handling by Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is an American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. Her protocol for the humane treatment of livestock was the model for the Meyer ranch.

Here is my initial sketch, showing the placement of all the objects. The horse and rider sit atop a stack of books, some representing the Old West and the beauty of the early times in our Western history. The cowboy keeps watch over his herd of cattle, and in my painting he is not only the head of this herd of cattle, but also the herd (group) of clocks. He's ahead of the times. Outside the window is a view of the Montana ranch, with the cattle grazing in the pasture.

I needed a cowboy and rider in just the right angle of sunlight, so I took this photo of a toy horse of mine and sent it to Lennie Phillips. Lennie, and her husband Jim, live on the ranch and are the ranch managers. Fortunately for me, Lennie is a professional photographer, and able to photograph just what I need for the painting. Here is the link to her website:

I chose this photo of Bill, the ranch cowboss.

After sending this photo of some toy cows to Lennie,

she took some great close-up photos of cattle around the ranch.

This photo will be used for the view out the window. It is from the area above Bob and Britt's house on the ranch.

I stretched a 36 3/4" x 50" linen canvas and started off the painting by working on the wallpaper design.

In this photo, the bulls and 'M' logo look like they are floating on the canvas.

Next, I painted the background color of the wallpaper, both the darker brown color in the shadows and...

the lighter hue on the sunlit wall.

The biggest hurdle in this painting will be the eight clocks. Normally, only one clock would appear in some of my paintings. The detail, perspective and lighting on these clocks will take a great deal of time and patience. I'll begin at the top of the canvas and work my way down. Each clock will be tackled similarly, with the numbers and hands going in first.

Then the face of the clock, with all its light and shadows.

Finally, the case of the clock and its electrical cord.

The 'Cherry Clock' is next.

I've tackled the porcelain body of the clock.

And finally, the face and electrical cord.

Each clock was painted with turpentine thinned oil, still leaving me room to tweak the color and detail when the final coat of paint is applied.

This is a very cool mid century style kitchen clock. The numbers are part of the plastic body, raised up about an eighth of an inch from the surface.

The 'Chef Clock' was made by the Sessions company, maker of many kitchen clocks. I've completed the numbers and hands and have begun the body of the chef.

The completed chef. You can see the brush strokes on the wall, looking almost like a bad paint job. This is characteristic of what the first passage of paint looks like with its thinned down composition.

The first stage of this great clock is done.

The 'Cowboy and Cowgirl Clock' is a real special timepiece. Many years ago I was bidding on eBay for this porcelain beauty and failed to win the auction because the price never reached the minimum reserve. Our son, Brady, seeing my disappointment (and being well versed in computer skills), contacted the seller and purchased it for me as a surprise.

After the clock face, I rendered their faces.

After a few days, it took on that 3-dimensional effect that strong light and shadow create.

Here's how it looks so far. The three clocks on the ground will be next.

Rendering the face begins...

... and ends. I like the yellowish cast from the clear plastic cover on the face.

The rich deep red of this art deco clock reflects the wall on its top surface.

Here's proof that I don't hire elves to do my work. I've begun to paint the face of the metal alarm clock.

Step one and...

...step two and ...

...step three. You can bet this alarm clock would wake you up in the morning!

Today, I'm underpainting the areas of the grass, both under the horse and the three cattle.

I've also painted in the cast shadows from the cattle and the stack of books.

Which brings me to the stack of books. Each one has a distictive type style and coloring.

This arrangement of books creates an elevated platform, not unlike a high piece of ground for the cowboy to watch over his herd.

The three cattle are roughed into place and...

...everything on the interior is painted but the horse and rider.

In order for me to know how dark to paint the cowboy and his horse, I'll render the scene outside the window.

All the grass area is put in first.

Then the sky. I decided on a dramatic cloud formation.

Mountains and...

...the treeline.

The cattle are the last detail.

There is a lot of detail on the cowboy and his horse, so I will break it up into two parts. First the man and...

...then the horse.

"He's Ahead Of The Times" is half way done. I have included many objects in this painting, all necessary in telling the story of this amazing man.

From this point on, I will be applying the final coat of paint on each surface of the painting. The pigment will be straight from the tubes without any thinning, making the final image very rich.

Each clock will require the mixing of many subtle hues, and a steady hand holding the double-aught (00) brush.

Another done.

Love those cut out numbers!

The chef is ready to cook some steaks!

A simple looking clock, but the raised letters and the protruding clear plastic face cover were very time consuming. I think the final result looks great!

These two are finished. What a beautiful clock!

I'm just finishing up the alarm clock and...

...here it is!

The last of the eight clocks is finished. I had hoped to be finished with this painting by this point, but underestimated the time involved in rendering so many detailed objects.

with the clocks finished, I've moved to the walls, painting the wallpaper and all the light and shadow areas.

Here's how it looks so far.

The books took about a week for me to finish, and the final result is wonderful.

Another underestimation on my part was the horse and rider. Not being familiar with horse tack, I studied the detailed photo supplied by Lennie Phillips, and stayed true to all the gear.

The exterior view out the window is complete and...

"He's Ahead Of The Times" is done.