Images West: An artist showcases her view from western living
The images have a warmth about them, a feeling of being in and a part of them. The photographs are a fleeting moment in time, caught by a knowing eye. Paintings that are realistic, yet, soft and inviting, draw the eye into them.
The one behind both types of image is a soft-spoken woman with an eye for detail and a love for her subject matter. Lisa Norman is both a gifted photographer and artist, capturing the life of the prairie and the cowboys, horses and cattle that have long been a part of her daily life.
Her artwork includes paintings done in oil, watercolor and graphite. Many are of an individual subject, detailed and with a story to tell. Murals are another outlet for her talent and the subject matter ranges from signature western portraits to trompe l’oeil depictions of varied themes.
Photography is another area that is represented by beautiful images of ranch life, livestock, cowboys, horses and wildlife. To see the world through her lens is to see it at those perfect moments in time that are witnessed by few.
The photographs of the Haythorn Ranch, where she and her late husband Denley lived and worked for many years, were collected into a coffee table book Lisa authored and published, titled “Haythorn Land and Cattle Company; A Horseman’s Heritage”. Beautiful photographs grace the pages, making one feel as though they were there and taking in the day-to-day work of the historic ranch.
Lisa didn’t grow up on a ranch and had planned to pursue a career in medical illustration.. However, when she met the young cowboy, Denley Norman, all those plans changed. Denley was a fifth generation rancher and cowboy and was dedicated to that life. She gladly joined him in his life’s work, becoming a ranch wife, cowboy’s helpmate, and mother as time passed. “I didn’t grow up on a ranch, but lived in the country”, said Norman, “Now I’ve been involved in it longer than not, and my life with Denley in the ag business defines me as well now.”
“I like to ride but I don’t claim to be a cowgirl,” said Norman. Being a part of that life, though, gave her the opportunity to document it daily, either through photography or her art. Many of her images are of Denley or their daughters, who rode with their Daddy as often as possible.
The lives of Lisa and daughters Kate, nine and Carly, six changed in a heartbeat when, in July 2011, Denley had a horse fall on him and he was tragically killed. Living on the 4-3 Ranch north of Lusk, WY, they were a part of a strong ranching community in the area. That cowboy “family” has helped them all through the hard months that have followed Denley’s death.
“The ranch families around here have made it a good place to be. We’ve stayed on the place where we were living before his accident, which has helped the girls and I. The cowboys here take the girls with them and let them ride and work with them,” said Norman, “The familiarity is both comforting and heartwrenching here, but we feel like it’s where we belong. I still feel very tied to this community.”
A catharsis for Lisa and the girls has been and is a sculpture they are working on together one of Denley’s favorite horses. It shows the horse saddled and hobbled, looking back over his shoulder as though watching for Denley. When completed, it will be in bronze and placed in a special place. Having the girl’s hands help with the sculpting has been part of the healing process for all of them, as the time spent shaping clay opens up conversations between mother and daughters.
The living have to go on living, and her business, Images West, has made it possible to keep them where they want to be.
“I’ve had Images West Studio for about 20 years. I’m grateful for several steady customers that I do graphic design, photography and marketing for,” said Norman, adding, “Because of the internet, I’ve had my business everywhere we’ve lived, whether 20 or 70 miles from town.”
“It’s stayed very steady and I do everything from business cards to billboards. The bread and butter of it all is the computer design and photography, though,” states Norman. “I’m working to build up my fine art inventory, commission work, and hope to utilize my Web site for more retail options with my photography.”
Besides original works and prints, she also offers notecards, sold in sets, and the Haythorn book on her Web site, http://www.imageswest.com. The Web site shows examples of her work, including murals and portraits. She does commissioned portraits, some showing a “vintage” look, using conte or pastel on buckskin paper, drawn from photograpAhs.
Her work also includes ranch photo shoots, including brandings and centennials, and commercial stallion photos for advertisements. Some have asked whether she will do another book, and she may, though not of the scope of the Haythorn book.
Lisa takes her Images West booth to a very select three to four shows a year. “I’ve chosen to go to shows that work around the girls schedules and stay pretty close to home,” said Norman. Those shows have included the Working Ranch Cowboys Association Ranch Rodeo finals in Amarillo, TX, Wyoming Horse Expo in Douglas, WY, and the Quick Draw Art Show at the Black Hills Stock Show, Rapid City, SD.
Lisa Norman has had a difficult year, to say the least, and she still feels Denley’s presence in many of the things they do. “His perspective and presence is still very much a part of us,” said Norman, then adds “I don’t know what the future holds. We’re just carrying on the best that we can.”
Her business, Images West, will continue to portray the people and the life that is so much a part of her and her family, while providing a way to live amongst the people she honors with her work. Whatever the future holds, rest assured she’ll find the beauty in it, either with her camera or on her easel, and share it with everyone through her Images West productions.
Refer to this article for a discount when ordering the Haythorn book. F
Fifteen Below in the Shade:
Commissioned portrait of cowgirl and horse rendered in graphite. Photo by Lisa Norman LookDeeply: