The Spearfish Woman is a Must-See at the Annual Western Art Show | Local

For Kathy Sigle, an animal’s face poses subtle artistic challenges – and it also sparks some of her most vivid paintings. On Tuesday, Sigle exhibited his watercolors at the Pro Health Western Art Show, part of the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo at the Monument.

Sigle has been coming to the annual Western Art Show for about 25 years — the longest-serving artist of all attendees, as she and others at the show explained on Tuesday.

“Every animal has a different face, just like a human,” said Sigle, who lives in Spearfish.

When painting animals, she explains, she carefully observes their movements, sometimes observing their ears with particular care.

“If you look at a horse or a cow’s ears, they’re very expressive,” she said. “If they get pinned, you better watch out.”

So Sigle scrutinizes the face of an animal, attentive to the slightest movements. A drooping lip in a horse, she says, signals fatigue.

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“It’s not just about painting a head with two eyes and nostrils,” she explained. “There’s a personality in there.”

The Pro Health Western Art Show takes place in the Monument’s Alpine/Ponderosa Room, and it’s filled with various art forms, from painting to pottery to metalwork. Sigle noted a few changes and additions that have cropped up over the years, including a quick draw contest that’s scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Friday this year, according to the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo website.

Sigle also mentioned a “Chair-ity” auction, featuring artistically ornate chairs, with a portion of the proceeds going to Youth Raising Scholarships and a portion to the Rainbow Bible Ranch. People can find more information by visiting the show in person or by going to the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/blackhillsstockshowwesternartists/.

Sigle’s own career as an artist may have officially kicked off when she was around 16 years old. She sold a pen-and-ink drawing of a zebra she made as art homework for $2 after it caught the attention of a teacher. However, she had started drawing long before that, drawing with colored pencils in her early childhood and later switching to pencil. She continued to draw in pencil for many years, turning to watercolor at her mother’s request when she was in her late twenties.

“My mother is an artist and I’ve always had an interest in drawing,” she said.

When Sigle was growing up, her father’s job took the family from Wyoming to Argentina to South Dakota, allowing her to experience rich and varied environments as a child. She lived in Argentina from the age of about 10 to 12 years old.

“In Argentina, when we traveled, I always had a tablet and a pencil in my hand,” she said. “We were driving for two or three hours, and I was drawing in the back seat.”

Sigle said she enjoys drawing faces, both human and animal, much more than landscapes. And although she draws with great precision and sensitivity to the real physical forms of animals, she also lets her own imaginary world seep into the work.

“I like to paint with color,” she says. “I think the color speaks of joy and brings the whole animal to life. Instead of painting a brown horse, I’ll put in oranges, purples and pinks which will give it a much more interesting liveliness.

While looking for subjects for her work, she monitors the activities around her.

“I go to the local ranches and paint the roundups or the movement of cattle or the marking days,” she said.

The painting, she said, helps capture “the Western way of life – which, unfortunately, can fade if we’re not careful”.

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