Cowgirl Up! | Sharon Markwardt

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

Regal Wishes, oil, 24 x 36.

From the window of her studio in Burleson, TX, Sharon Markwardt is fortunate enough to have a perfect view of a herd of longhorn steers. In fact, the model for her painting REGAL WISHES, which is in the Cowgirl Up show, is one of these neighborly, award-winning longhorns, a steer she refers to as “a pretty cool guy. He’s halter-trained and friendly, so he will pose for me if I just scratch him behind the ears,” Markwardt says. “One day the light was hitting him nicely, and I quickly grabbed my camera and took a few shots.”

Her portraits of animals often feature bold, up-close views and striking, vibrant colors. Like many animal artists, she sees distinct personas in her models. “I like trying to portray their souls, personalities, and emotions in my work,” Markwardt says. “And sometimes I like to get in their faces.” In REGAL WISHES she displays her signature eye-popping style.

As a fourth-generation Texan, she says she also relishes portraying western-themed objects, such as cowboy boots, because they offer symbolic meaning as icons of the American West and the pioneer spirit. “To me, they represent boldness and self-sufficiency—an independence from the need for the approval of others,” she says.

For Markwardt a painting is successful if she can make viewers smile. “I’m also trying to convey a respect for animals and recognition of their individuality and soulfulness. Painting is a spiritual thing for me. And I like to project a certain joy in life in all of my work, whether it’s animals or cowboy boots,” she says. Markwardt is represented by Waxlander Art Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Vertical Peaks Fine Art, Jackson, WY; and Your Private Collection, Granby, TX;

Featured in March 2012.