Friday, February 1, 2013

Lynda Lanker’s portraits preserve the spirit and histories of cowgirls and ranch women of the American West

Lynda Lanker’s portraits preserve the spirit and histories of cowgirls and ranch women of the American West
A 19-year project, “Tough by Nature” includes 49 portraits in a variety of mediums, both a book and touring exhibit

EUGENE, Ore. – Both a book and a touring exhibit, “Tough by Nature” is a series of portraits of women ranchers and cowgirls from the American West. (See attached example.) Fine artist Lynda Lanker traveled the western United States for 19 years to interview the 49 women and capture their spirit through portraiture. As the American West undergoes transition and transformation, Lynda’s work preserves the histories of these contemporary western heroines.

“I undertook this project because the character of these women is right there on the surface, more so than somebody who’s got layers and layers of urban culture,” says artist Lynda Lanker. “…[Female cowhands and ranchers] had mainly been portrayed as rodeo queens in tight satin shirts with lots of sequins and fancy boots. I wanted to go deeper and show the true women instead of the stereotype.”
Lynda’s process included on-site photographs, sketches and interviews. For the portraits, she experimented with a variety of mediums, choosing the technique she felt best captured the subject’s character. The 49 portraits range in medium from charcoal, acrylic and egg tempera, to plate and stone lithography and drypoint engraving.
Lithographs from the series are available for purchase at

Exhibition schedule: (Interview and visual opportunities)
Feb. 1 – March 31: Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Ore.
May 9 – Sept. 9: National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Oct. 18, 2013 – Jan. 19, 2014: Turtle Bay Recreation Park, Redding, Calif.
About Lynda Lanker
A fine artist based in Eugene, Ore., Lynda Lanker specializes in portraiture. After majoring in painting and earning a bachelor’s degree in art education from Wichita State University, she taught middle school art. In 1974, she married Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Brian Lanker. The couple moved to Eugene, Ore., where she’s since been able to concentrate on portraiture. Her commissioned portraits include five presidential portraits for the University of Oregon. She’s currently working on a portrait of Dr. Maya Angelou and a portrait of the late Oregon Supreme Court Justice Betty Roberts. More information available at
For more information or to schedule an interview with the artist, please contact Lynne Lamb at or 541-485-0070.

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