Saturday, January 17, 2015
Old School Canoe
In March of 2013 during Western Art Week in Great Falls, Montana, one of my patrons brought me a piece of advertising from the Old Town Canoe Company. Their request was that I put some of my art work on this letterhead. Included in the envelope with this sales letter were two pieces of canvas so that potential customers could see and feel the difference between the quality and durability of their competitor's finished product, and that of the Old Town handcrafted canoe.
I investigated old advertising of the period and tried a number of different designs using that advertising to come up with an image I was satisfied which would fit on this piece of letterhead. The harder I tried, the bigger the funk.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I had a recollection of a C. M. Russell illustrated letter which depicted a Kootenai Indian canoe. I have a copy of the Brian Dippie book, C. M. Russell, Word Painter. It didn't take me long to find it.
This is the (cropped) first page of a two page letter Russell wrote to Philip Goodwin in October of 1907. The canoe in the upper right hand corner was done from a model constructed by a fellow from Kalispell, and it is still in the Museum in Great Falls. Russell explained in the letter that since the model had no 'thorts' (thwarts), it was not of much use as a model. I was torn. I didn't stay that way for very long.
The patrons who commissioned me to do this piece were the very first folks to purchase one of my pieces of old paper art. That art depicted another C. M. Russell piece, the original which sold in 2008 for over $5 million dollars. I delivered Old School a couple of weeks ago. They're happy, and so am I.