By Cowboys & Indians contributor, Stephanie Stephens
It takes one to know one — a real cowgirl, that is, and Western artist Lisa K. Stokes is “ranch raised” through and through, she proudly points out. Her one-of-a-kind digital artworks celebrate her passion for Western heritage and the cowboy — make that cowgirl — lifestyle in pieces like Fort Worth Cowgirl, Genuine Cowgirl, Cadillac Cowgirl, and American Pride (shown).
Stokes, who divides her time between Weatherford, Texas, and Montgomery, Alabama, describes her creations as exuding “rich and interesting textures that transmit my expression as an artist.” Original pieces on canvas feature photo scans illuminated by computer technology and enhanced by backgrounds painted in acrylic.
Traditional and contemporary styles make fast friends in her work and show the artist reveling in the artistic freedom and ability to “shoot what I want to.” Take, for example, the layers of Cowgirl Caddy, for which Stokes photographed the prickly pear cactus and windmill in Texas (Fort Worth and Dublin) and the blond roper and vintage car in Alabama.
Stokes’ life has been cyclical, she says — first anxious to leave the ranch, then to model, then to go right back home to hard work and sweat. At 6 feet tall, she once worked as an in-demand runway and print model in Florida. “I used to work the ranch first, get ready to ship cattle, shower, and then rush to the hairdresser before I walked the runways,” she recalls. “I led the Versace lifestyle but longed for the cow pen. That’s exactly the life that my art clients say they want on their walls — someone out working on the ranch.”
Modeling transitioned to a career behind the lens that took roots under the tutelage of well-known commercial photographer Dick Krueger. “But,” Stokes says, “the constant pressure to enter and win photo competitions was just not my game.” Instead of pursuing that route, she learned graphic design and began admiring the work of Richard Sturdevant, who combines photography with fine art skills. She eventually studied with Sturdevant and credits him with helping her develop her own unique style.
Stokes is still stoked about having exhibited in early October at Spectrum New York, a juried contemporary art fair featuring work by talented midcareer artists. It’s proof positive that in the highly competitive world of art, there’s plenty of room for a multitalented “Cowgirl in the City.”
Lisa K. Stokes’ artwork is available at Santa Fe Ranch, Okeechobee, Florida, www.santaferanch.com; at Colorado Cowgirls, Del Norte, Colorado, www.coloradocowgirls.net; and on her website at www.lisakstokes.com. For more artists and exhibit listings, visit www.cowboysindians.com.