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Image of the Day, February 25, 2012

By Donna Poulton

"I inhale the natural world, and love it most when it's moody, stormy, wet, snowy, and dusky-colored." - Michael Coleman

In a different century it could be imagined that Michael Coleman would have traveled with Jedediah Smith, Peter Skene Ogden, Jim Bridger or any number of American Indian tribes exploring the American West.  The scientific explorations of artists such as James Audubon, Karl Bodmer and William Henry Holmes would have interested him, but not as much as living in the moment, existing in nature and surviving by the skill, wit and resourcefulness of the early mountain men. Coleman’s paintings are an amalgam of his rich personal experience in the wilderness and his impression of life in the 19th century. From his practical knowledge of the outdoors he has developed a keen sense of observation of animals: an auburn fox resting on lichen covered rocks, bears snooping in camps and mountain goats lolling on precipitous cliff edges so high that they overlook birds circling below. These are the subjects of Coleman’s intensely rich and detailed paintings.

In 2009, a book of Coleman’s work titled “On Wings of Eagels” was released.  It was written by the foremost author on western art today - Peter Hassrick - and is a beautiful collection for any collector of images of the West.

Michael Coleman, In the Cliffs, Rocky Mountain Goats, 1995, oil on board, 34 x 60 in., private collection. Credit: Colemanart.comMichael Coleman, Morning Sun, Red Fox, oil, 12 x 16 in. Credit:  Interns in the Buffalo Bill Historical Center's Conservation Residency program clean "Big Hal," a sculpture currently on loan to Yellowstone Regional Airport to welcome visitors to Cody.

Michael Coleman, Big Hal, modeled 2002, cast 2003, bronze, 84 inches. Gift of Jim and Kathy Taggart. Credit: Buffalo Bill Historical CenterCredit:

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