Quick Draw quickly approaches

Tobias Sauer to join the cast of artists on June 20
Thursday, July 4, 2019
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New to the Qucik Draw this year is western artist Tobias Sauer. Seeing Sauer’s painting “Day Out,” one can almost hear Ol’ Camp Cookie sing.


Painting courtesy of Tobias Sauer

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New to the Quick Draw this year is western artist Tobias Sauer, who grew up in Lewistown. He is currently a professional artist based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Photo courtesy of Tobias Sauer

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Tobias Sauer, who will be participating in the Stampede’s Quick Draw for the first time this year, is a layer painter, making the quick finish format of the event ideal. Here is an example of his layering in “Mustango Lores.”

Painting courtesy of Tobias Sauer

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Last year, in the foreground (from left), artist Donna Toavs paints with a stained-glass effect, entitled “Be Still.” Artist Andrea Murphy paints a piece she titled “Happy Canyon Stars.” Linda Phillips paints “Rethinking that Ride,” and Mia Delode paints “Cowboy Tango."

Photo by Melody Montgomery

Stanford’s C.M. Russell Stampede, coming July 20 – 21, is now in its 54th year. The Quick Draw, which will be July 20, is in its 30th year.

Decades ago, Stampede Club Member Steve Urick approached other club members with the idea of incorporating a quick draw into the event, an idea he came up with after the Bucking Horse Sale in Miles City. At first, club members were skeptical. However, the Quick Draw has become one of the most successful parts of the weekend-long event.

“The mystique of having the CMR Stampede Quick Draw in Charlie Russell Country, where he spent a lot of time, seems to have added to its success,” says Urick.

During the Quick Draw, 17 artists (see biographies on page 5) will be given 45 minutes to work on their pieces, including framing. Note, while is called a quick draw, it is actually a quick finish. Artist can bring work they have already started on and polish it up in front of the audience. This helps elevate the quality of the work produced and take some of the pressure off the artists.

The resultant pieces are then promptly auctioned off by Shobe Auctioneers.

“I would like the community to know how much the Stampede Club greatly appreciates the support of the many people at the Quick Draw and the other events of the weekend. Without them, the club couldn’t do what it does for the community,” said Urick.

New Artist Tobias Sauer

One new artist coming this year is Tobias Sauer, a western and wildlife artist. Sauer, who grew up in Lewistown, is currently a professional artist based in Coeur D’alene, Idaho.

It wasn’t until he got tore up by a bull that he dedicated his life to art, he said.

"I slipped as he hurned on me, and I got thrown around and stomped on," said Sauer.

Sauer started out attending art school, but found it too constrictive in its attempts to mold him into a certain style, which wasn’t the western art he loved. He then moved onto become a scientist instead. However, later, when the bull struck, he returned to art.

“Through those five surgeries, I started painting again,” said Tobias. “The worst thing to happen to me turned out to be the best.”

One of Sauer’s influences is the cowboy painter himself.

“You can’t grow up in Central Montana and not love Charlie Russell. It’s kind of Charlie Russell Country,” said Sauer.

A year or so ago, Sauer was back visiting Central Montana and speaking to family friends Kyle Shobe and his father Jason Shobe. Here they told him about the Quick Draw at the Stampede and encouraged him to enter.

Little did Sauer know a year ago when he signed up to be part of the event that he and his wife would be expecting a baby. Sauer’s wife is due just a week from now. Sauer will have to make it a quick trip to Stanford to get back home to his newborn but is excited to participate.

This is not Sauer’s first Quick Draw. He participated in one earlier just this week in Whitefish. Sauer is a layer painter, making the quick-finish format ideal, considering his layering technique requires drying time.

“It’s a good way to meet the public and visit with them while you’re painting,” said Sauer. “It can be a scary thing [to create in front of others], but it’s something I feel is very important.”

Sauer attributes his path toward the arts to his mother. Colleen Sauer was a teacher. She was also an artist, but did not do this professionally. Still she was able to teach Sauer about art and guide him.

“My mom would take me to museums and ask about which paintings I liked and why. Through this process, she would challenge me to think about composition,” said Sauer.

She admired her son’s courage in creating.

“You feel like your soul is a little naked when you’re putting your heart on canvas,” said Sauer.

For the Stampede’s Quick Draw, Sauer expects to create a a 1930’s Western Cowboy, noting that more commonly western art includes modern cowboys or really old cowboys of the late 1800s. He draws to the unique decade of the 1930s.

“I like the big, bat-wing chaps and big hats,” said Sauer.

Returning artists

The additional 16 participating artists have impressive bios. For the purpose of brevity, their bios have been truncated for this article.

Judy Johnson, from Lincoln, Montana, specializes in acrylic and oil paintings. Her current artistic focus is on wildlife, horses, mules, dogs, and the western lifestyle. At the recent Heritage Show in Great Falls, her acrylic painting of Raven in the lobby show was awarded honorable mention. You can also now find her work in the Eric Thorsen Gallery in Big Fork.

Gaylene Fortner was raised on a ranch at Sonnette, near Broadus, Montana, where she and her family continue to ranch. Her artwork has been exhibited in shows across the United States and recently in London. She is a signature member of the Northern Plains Watercolor Society, Women Artists of the West, and the Montana Watercolor Society.

Bob Kercher is one of the original Stampede Quick Draw artists and has participated in over 25 C.M. Russell Auctions in Great Falls. Kercher is also a member of the Montana Watercolor Society. He has won juror’s choice at the Montana Pheasants Forever Convention three times.

Steve Lillegard is a third generation Judith Basin County resident. His earliest influences came from his mother, Libby, who went to art school in Boston, and his art teacher, the late Pat Hansen from Raynesford. Since building his foundry in 1981, his sculptures have won numerous awards and found homes worldwide.

Mitzi Nelson is also one of the original Stampede Quick Draw artists. Nelson has been a professional artist for nearly 30 years. Birds and wildlife are her favorite subjects in her work. Notably, in 2009, Nelson was one of a select group of artists who were asked to paint a buffalo for the Painted Buffalo Herd in West Yellowstone.

Steven Oiestad was raised along the Yellowstone River valley, near Big Timber. His pastel paintings have become extremely popular among collectors across the United States. He is an 18-year veteran of the CM Russell art show. At a recent CM Russell auction, he was awarded the prestigious Honorary Chairman’s Award of Excellence.

Diana Roen is a local artist, who paints at the ranch in the Little Belt Mountains. Her favorite mediums to work with are watercolor and oils, but she recently learned to paint using soils. She is a member of the Montana Midstate Art Society and the Montana Watercolor Society.

Cliff Rossberg is an artist who is inspired by the world around him. Much of his inspiration comes from his back yard and home state. Rossberg’s paintings typically feature wildlife with a strong emphasis on landscape. His work has been featured on notable art journals, including Western Art Collector, Wildlife Art, U.S. Art, Southwest Art, and Art of the West.

Ron Ukrainetz is a lifelong artist from Great Falls. In 2012, his painting, ‘On the Old Fence’ was selected for the top 100 Paint America Competition. This is his eighth consecutive award. Because of this significant accomplishment, Ukrainetz was inducted into the Paint America Master’s Circle. He was the first Montanan to achieve this honor.

Mia Deelode, an accomplished painter, is a fourth generation rancher from Harlowton. Deelode is one of seven invited Quick Draw artists for the Cowboy Wall of Fame Gala at Billings. She was given special recognition by the Great Falls Historical Museum for her work titled ‘1890’s First Responders,’ featuring the last working team of fire horses in the United States.

Donna Toavs lives in Stevensville, Montana, uses a variety of mediums, including pencil, acrylic, watercolor, oil and sculpture. She has exhibited in several invitational shows from Montana to Texas, including the Breckenridge Texas international Art Show, and the Great American Cowboy Art Show in Casper Wyoming. This will be her 6th year participating in the CMR Stampede Quick Draw in Stanford.

Maggi Neal grew up in Billings, and now lives just southwest of Great Falls. As a child, Neal was inspired by the artists her grandmother and mother. She is a regular exhibitor in the Western Masters Art Show and Sale in Great Falls, St. Peters Hospital Foundation Gala in Helena and the National Icons of the West Show and Sale in Missoula. Neal has also been a special guest of the New West Show and Sale and the Colors of Fall Art Show and Expo in Great Falls.

Sandra Hiller is a well-known sculptured leather artist and harness maker from Elk, Washington. Her work combines drawing, leather tooling, sculpting, and painting in a unique three-dimensional piece of sculptured leather art. Hiller’s work has been honored with many awards, including Best of Show in the World Leather Debut in Sheridan, Wyoming, the People’s Choice Award in the Fred Oldfield Western Art Show in Puyallup, Washington, and the Spokane Interstate Fair.

Linda Phillips is from Hermiston, Oregon. Here she is proud to spend time with her family, horses, and dogs. She works mainly in graphite but also enjoys colored pencil and acrylics. Her work often features horses and cowboys, with her pieces showing extra fine detail and great expression. She is a regular participant in the CM Russell show in Great Falls in March.

Andrea Murphy is an emerging western artist from Hermiston, Oregon. Murphy is following in the footsteps of her mother, Linda Phillips, who is also in this year’s Quick Draw. It has been her vast experience with horses that has given her a knack for being able to reproduce the horses with a remarkable similarity to their life-like appearance. Murphy specializes in graphite drawings and occasionally paints with acrylic or watercolor.

Jack L. Cantrell is a self-taught artist, who specializes in wildlife works. He works in watercolor, acrylic and ink. His interest in art began at an early age, when he began drawing pictures on any piece of paper he could find. Some of his most recent honors include a 2015 Judge’s choice award at the Montana State Fair, First Place in the Watercolor Division at the 2016 Western Heritage Art Show, and being selected in 2016 to be part of the Montana State Fair’s permanent art collection.