Alone, on top of a high, open Montana hill in the darkness, Mia DeLode stood in her sheep wagon, watching as the band of wooly animals she was protecting from predators was bedding down for the night. Then the first lightning sizzled and cracked. The sky roiled. A second bolt spiked and jagged, fracturing the clouds with an explosive roar on its way to the ground. It was followed by another and another.
“The crashes of blinding light [were] impossible to sleep through, impossible not to think the next bolt will strike too close,” DeLode says, recalling her days as a shepherdess. There was nothing to do but ride out the storm.
That experience prompted a painting, as her experiences with the natural world often do. “I’m in love with Mother Nature, no matter how much of a bitch she can be at times,” says DeLode, a former fourth-generation Montana sheep rancher. She grew up living with sheep—feeding, shearing, healing, and birthing them, even as an adult—until art took over. Then, a decade ago, she leased out her ranch so she could focus on her art.
Cold Trail Home
12” by 18”
“This a 100 percent palette knife painting. No details are needed when the very air hurts to breathe but the job needs doing anyhow.”
16” by 12”
“I do not paint wildlife very often anymore, though that was my painting focus when I first started painting. Bison are my faves to paint, as I love their strength and perseverance. They are just so Western; the same traits that pioneers needed to settle the West.”