Belt artist gives back

Art benefits Raynesford Community Center
Thursday, August 22, 2019
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Kim Lockman donated her painting “Fury Over Square Butte,” valued at $2,400, to the Raynesford Community Center’s annual fundraiser in order to give back to the community where she first started painting. She chose the painting of Square Butte due to its significance in the region. Photo of painting courtesy of Kim Lochman

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One of the very first paintings by professional artist Kim Lockman, an otter she painted in fifth grade, remains on the wall of the former Raynesford Elementary School, which is now the Raynesford Community Center.

Photo courtesy of Lois Hill

The professional and nationally recognized artist Kim (Baker) Lockman attended grades fifth through seventh in Raynesford. Her roots in the Raynesford area run deep, as it was where her grandparents ranched. Lockman spent much of her childhood on the family ranch. While at the Raynesford school, she painted two of her earliest paintings. These two murals, one in the girls’ bathroom and one in the hallway, were never painted over and remain there to this day (see page 3).

The school is now the Raynesford Community Center, which formed in 2009 after the school had been closed for three years.

Just a few years ago, Lockman discovered her paintings were still on the walls at her old school.

“I thought, ‘Gosh, I can’t believe they preserved those paintings all these years! I would like to do something to give back to the community’,” said Lockman.

Lockman donated her painting, “Fury Over Square Butte,” which is valued at $2,400. It will be the grand prize in the raffle at Raynesford Community Center’s Fundraiser in September.

Lockman’s style of Western Realism is a running theme in her work.

“You can pick out her paintings really easily,” said Lois Hill of the Raynesford Community Center. “She is a very talented artist. She was so honored and humbled the paintings she did as a child in Raynesford are still there on the walls that she wanted to do something for the Raynesford Community Center to show her gratitude,” said Hill.

Lockman is a life-long artist.

“I never remember a time I wasn’t an artist,” she said.

She started painting in fourth grade, largely due to the help of a family friend and fellow artist, Janet Anderson, who let Lockman borrow her paints.

Anderson was also Raynesford-born gal, according to Hill. The fire station in Raynesford has a painting Anderson did of an otter with its hindquarters on fire. Anderson passed away a few years ago, and Lockman was given one of her paintings.

“She was a huge inspiration to me,” said Lockman. “As a child, I thought that particular painting was the ‘end all be all,’ and now I look at it every day and thank Janet for giving me my first experience with paint as a medium.”

Lockman is a largely self-taught artist, though she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art. Academia often frowned on her realistic style of painting and left her turning away from art for quite some time following graduation.

Lockman fortunately returned to her art and now is a professional working artist with a studio in Belt, Mont.

Lockman’s art became part of the national stage following a series of paintings she created of the Duke himself - John Wayne. Through the power of the Internet, her work caught the attention of the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Iowa, who asked her to paint a portrait for their annual fundraiser. She did so for five years in a row.

“That was the single thing that propelled me into the professional category on the national level, and I’m very grateful for that leg up,” said Lockman.

Lockman’s art has been featured at many venues through the years, including the Charlie Russell Art Auction. She has yet to participate in a Quick Draw or Quick finish, but she is considering it.

“I am terribly bashful about painting in front of people. I’m kind of a hermit artist,” she laughed. “I’ve been asked quite a few times to do it and I imagine eventually I will take part in a Quick Finish. I definitely love the solitude of my studio and am most comfortable painting there with my wiener dog and my music to cheer me on.”

Editor’s Note: More of Lockman’s work can be seen at

About the Fundraiser

The Raynesford Community Center’s upcoming raffle will be held in conjunction with their annual Garage Sale and Bake Sale on Sunday, Sept. 8. Each year, the Raynesford Community Center holds this fundraising event to coincide with the Montana Bale Trail Between Windham, Hobson and Utica.

“It’s a great time to hold it because there are people travelling from Great Falls to the Hay Bale Trail though Utica. There will be everything from furniture, tools, dishes, household items, clothes, children’s toys, knick-knacks, etc. Anyone that wants to donate items to the even can contact me for that also,” said Hill.

At at the Raynesford Community Center, members host blood drawings every two months, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day breakfasts, a St. Patrick’s day event, 4th of July and Christmas Eve parties, plus it is rented for a variety of occasions including baby and bridal showers, receptions, dinners, reunions, graduation parties, church camps, and more.

Use of funds raised

Funds raised for the Raynesford Community Center go toward improvements and maintenance of the facility. For example, funds from last year allowed for replacement of the west windows, which cost $4,500 and two new furnaces at $4,000. The next project is replacing the old and stained carpet in the hallway with luxury vinyl.

“We’re trying to make it look a little nicer,” said Hill.

After this project is completed, the group will focus on the carpet in the classrooms, which are too stained to clean.

For more information contact Lois Hill at 406-738-4248.