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Sammy Bird, an award-winning rodeo competitor, is in Calgary for the Stampede to sell her artwork, which mostly features horses. (Sammy Bird) A champion barrel racer is taking a break from the rodeo to show and sell her art at this year’s Calgary Stampede.

Sammy Bird, a 25-year-old woman from the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, paints vibrant, colourful images of horses.

She also was the champion of the 2016 Indian National Finals Rodeo as the only cowgirl to have points in both women’s breakaway and in women’s barrels.

Her art is being displayed at the Western Showcase, which is in the BMO Centre on the Stampede grounds.

Bird spoke with Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray on Thursday morning about combining her two passions of art and rodeo.

Q: Artist and rodeo champion cowgirl. How do you do that?

A: I say that if I’m not on a horse, I’m painting a horse. I spend all my time with horses. I’ve been rodeoing since I was a little girl and just recently kind of got into painting them, so I have high goals in both aspects.

Q: How does that translate to your artist’s life?

A: I grew up on a horse and so horses come second nature to me. I wasn’t taught, I didn’t go to school for art. I took high school art and that’s all I’ve taken. I went and got my degree in natural horsemanship from the University of Montana-Western. It just came second nature to me. I didn’t ever learn to paint. It just comes from something in the inside. Sammy Bird is a champion cowgirl and an artist. (Sammy Bird) Q: Describe what your images look like.

A: I paint very vibrant colours. I guess you could almost call the paintings loud. They’re kind of a contemporary style of horses and I love putting in my American culture in there. I’m very proud of that and so I try to incorporate that into my paintings.

I paint horses. I don’t paint people. I paint horses because to me, horses are very honest. They are what they are and they’re just really easy for me to paint because I just love them so much. And see people, it’d be a little harder for me because I don’t have the same feeling for them. Sammy Bird says she’s been around horses her whole life, so they’re her favourite subjects to paint. (Sammy Bird) Q: What kind of questions do you get from buyers?

A: "Where does this come from?" Because my stuff is so not realistic. It’s really just come from the inside. Everyone’s like, "how do you start?"

With all of my paintings, especially my horses, I start from the eye and I paint my way out. I always have an idea when I start painting of how it’s going to turn out and then when I’m done it’s just something completely different. But you know it works, so I just tell them it’s something from the inside.

I paint with acrylic. But more than I paint with acrylic, I paint with my heart, I paint with my energy. My goal at the end of every painting is for it to have a positive influence. For someone to look at it, I want it to make someone happy. Sammy Bird is in the city to sell her paintings, and she hopes to return in the rodeo. (Sammy Bird) Q: What’s next for you after you leave the Stampede?

A: I rodeo all summer long, so I’ll be on the rodeo trail. Hopefully make it to […]

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