Don’t Paint What You Don’t Know

In His Prime
Early on a September morning as I was preparing my palette to begin the day, I saw a handsome bull ease out of the timber. He slowly moved into the clearing and presented himself broadside. Then, as if on queue, he elegantly turned his gaze in my direction. In that moment I knew I going to pain him “In His Prime.”

Have you ever seen art on the wall and thought to yourself, is that a photograph or a painting? A key factor that makes art realistic is not only the detail that’s provided with a brush, but an understanding of your topic. To paint at the professional level, it takes more than natural talent, it’s taking the time to learn the details that is expected at this level.  When an artist actually lives the experience of what they are painting, the bar gets set even higher. Or the art becomes truly amazing to look at. Even to the point that you start asking how much for the painting. Mary Wood Western Artist is a name to remember if you enjoy Western themed paintings and best of all, Mary creates her paintings right from her back porch. Here’s an example……

Right off her back porch stands this magnificent 6×6 bull elk. At first glance this bull just radiates confidence, possibly looking back to see if his harem is secure. There is no doubt this bull is “In His Prime” that is exactly what Mary titled this painting. All through the rut Mary was able to watch and study his behavior up close. Think of it as a figurative study except you are painting a naked bull elk instead of naked human. While writing this, out of curiosity I completed a search of elk paintings and I came across this….

Believe it or not, this painting costs $8,400.00 and it was created by a well known artist. The title of the painting claims this is a deer. It goes to show that you shouldn’t paint what you don’t know.

I reached out to Mary and asked if she could provide a quick bio for this post and here is the reply, I got back……

“I only paint subjects and country that are intimately familiar to me: horses, cowboying, ranch life and the wildlife I have tracked and studied since early childhood”

“My passion to draw and paint has been a part of my life from my earliest memories, always with the objective of being as accurate and true to my subjects as possible and at the same time capturing the atmosphere, the colors, the emotion of a split second in time that hopefully transports the viewer into the painting as if they were there.“

~Mary Wood

As a great resource for both the artist and the naturalist in me, there is a bison range relatively nearby. I love going there and spending the day observing, sketching and taking pictures. This big, handsome bull is a composite of several bulls I have seen on my trips to the range. I have been very near, perhaps too close at times when a bull explodes charging another bull. I guarantee you it will stop your heart and blow your hair back. That is exactly the sensation I want you to feel as I painted “TATANKA!” charging straight out of the canvas.

To see more of Mary’s art, please visit her site by clicking THIS LINK.

Easy Way to Create More Experiences

Do you realize how close minded you are? Here’s how I figured out how close minded I was. I started saying YES to everything.

About 2 years ago, I made the choice to study abroad. Being born and raised in Montana, I loved it. I loved the outdoors, and the opportunity of adventure at any point. What I didn’t realize was this was the ONLY thing I knew. I always deemed Montana, Missoula specifically, as a place where most people are well rounded people, and I think relatively, they may be. However, staying in one place your whole life can be very toxic.

I moved to Australia around two years ago, but not just to Australia, but to one of the biggest foreign exchange schools in the world. When I met people of new and different cultures, I noticed immediately the assumptions I made, and how quickly I again banded myself with people similar to myself. I hated myself for it. I understand this is a natural human function, but as I noticed it happening to me, I brainstormed how to break myself away from it. What I did was, I started saying yes to everything.  When someone asked me to do something, or an opportunity presented itself, or some random person on the street asked me to talk, I would always say yes, and I held myself to it. I started saying yes to opportunities I, in the past, would have turned down immediately for reasons to do with pride, fear, etc.

I very quickly saw the change it made, and yes, I did have the occasional situations I definitely should have said no to. But in the long run, I saw myself becoming a much more experienced, well rounded, and cultured person. I started going places, eating things, and hanging out with people I would have never before. It was absolutely liberating and I’m so glad I did it. I saw it as “going with the flow”, and instead of doing that with my own interest in mind, I truly did whatever opportunity came to me. I put myself in danger, in so many awkward situations, but overall, experienced life as it came to me. I made way more friends than I ever would have, and experienced life lessons at a much faster rate than I previously would have. Free yourself, open your mind, SAY YES!!

Social Media and the Decline of Personal Privacy


In the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic that we all must suffer through together, why is it that media outlets, professional athletes, and celebrities all seem to be shoving their opinions in the faces of the public more than ever before? Why do American citizens seem to be okay with accepting this seemingly endless stream of disinformation and plethora of baseless claims that contradict everything we know to be true? Though I am not a psychologist and have no right and no qualifications to accurately answer these questions, I feel obligated to make a few speculations on behalf of those that have some of the same questions and are struggling to accept the fact that social media has facilitated the decline of personal privacy. While it began as a rather innocent and efficient way to stay in contact with people around the globe, the development of social media platforms has very heavily contributed to the introduction of new social norms and a growing concern over the absence of personal privacy.

It should come as no surprise that the prevalence of online platforms that collect and display personal information has created a demand for this information by a number of corporations intent on utilizing the information to determine purchasing patterns of consumers in an effort to expand their ability to predict future purchases. With online shopping platforms like Amazon and Google who keep records of your past purchases and search history, it becomes difficult to avoid the recommendations that these companies make because their software often allows them to learn more about our habits than we can even comprehend. Granted, this development does make shopping and browsing the internet much more efficient for those that have no qualms with their personal information being bought and sold as they benefit from it as much as the companies exchanging this info. However, for many older members of the population who grew up without any of these perceived conveniences (71% according to the 2019 U.S. census), this raises serious concerns. Out of this vast majority of the population nearly 6 out of 10 adults feel that it is almost impossible to get through a day without having data collected about them (Pew Research Center). Despite many products and services being marketed by revealing the time and money that could be saved through the use of collected personal information, many Americans still feel that this is a massive invasion of their privacy and feel helpless in stopping it. Younger members of the American population might say that if you don’t like it then don’t use the internet, but none of us are naïve enough to think that this is even a possibility in today’s technology-driven world.

I will be the first to admit that technology and even social media can grant us access to some pretty amazing tools to navigate through our exceedingly fast-paced society, but I also acknowledge the immense potential for the misuse of the information gathered online. Additionally, this information really has no standard for validity and is often misconstrued by a majority of those who have access to it because there is no accurate way to convey subtleties like facial expressions or body language that one would otherwise be able to observe during a physical interaction. Yes, emojis can sometimes get your point across in a more accurate way but are still greatly lacking as the number of expressible human emotions far exceeds the amount of emojis currently available. Thoughts?




By: Gavin Greek

Raising My Pit Bull Puppy

I would like to introduce Mac, our 10 week old Pit Bull puppy. Mac was born on July 10th, 2020. My fiancé, Lyndsy, and I had been wanting a dog for some time and we were looking to get a puppy or rescue a dog near the end of summer. To our luck Lyndsy’s Aunt’s dogs (dad was full breed pit bull and mother was mostly pit with a little bit of lab) had a litter and we were the first people she asked to see if we wanted a puppy. We immediately said yes and she sent us pictures of the litter so we can pick one out. This little grey ball of joy stuck out to us and we knew he would be perfect for our family. We would get updates from Lyndsy’s aunt on how he was doing and she even started calling him Mac for us around 3 weeks old. We picked him up on August 21st and he has forever changed our lives. Mac can be a handful but is usually very well mannered for a puppy. We are making sure he is crate trained at night where one of us will take him out to potty in the middle of the night, he rarely whines about being in his crate anymore. One nice purchase that we have made is the Fresh Patch, which is a patch of grass (4ft by 2ft) used for dogs to help them train and get them comfortable with the transition to going to the bathroom outside. We are enrolling Mac into some puppy training classes that Lyndsy and I will attend. I cannot wait for this little guy to grow up and be the great dog I know he will be. As of right now he weighs 20 pounds and we are expecting him to be about 90 pounds when he turns a year old.   



Picking up Mac


Who Invited Jesus To The Party?

Who Invited Jesus To The Party?


Religion has had its claws in American politics for years. In turn, this has led people to view the United States as a Christian nation. When it comes to politics, religion has been winning the war against logic and reason. 23% of Americans are either atheist or agnostic, while 62% are Christians, and 40% believe that the world was made by God 10,000 years ago. This is concerning, as religion can have detrimental effects on politics, with some politicians using it to justify terrible actions. The separation of Church and State is more important now than it has ever been before. The adverse effects religion has on moral behavior, legislation, and overall mental performance is devastating.


Donald Trump has been considered the least religious presidential candidate in years. Not being able to mention one of his favorite passages from the bible in an interview raised alarms for many conservative voters. Knowing this, Trump appointed Mike Pence to be his running mate and Vice President. Many Republican voters consider Pence as a devoted Christian who would put religion above all else. Pence once said, “I’m a Christian, a Conservative, a Republican, in that order.” Trump realized that he would not take the Oval Office without the backing of religious groups and their followers. In 2016, Trump received 56% of the Protestant vote and 52% of the Catholic vote. Even though Trump once commented on Mega-Church pastors as “scammers,” and saying, “they’re all hustlers.” Trump’s alliance with the Church is essential to him, as long as he receives continued support.


Trump is not the only politician that uses the Church to benefit him in the polls. In the House, the only person who claims to have no religious affiliation is Senator Krysten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona. The House of Representatives currently has 53.7% Protestants and 32.5% Catholics, meaning the house is predominantly Christian, with 86.2%. The rest of the house is comprised of Representatives that still believe in God but follow different practices. The Senate is not much better, with the majority still being Christian, 60% Protestants, and 22% Catholics. Statistically speaking, this is almost impossible. If nearly a quarter of all Americans are either atheist or agnostic, it is hard to believe that Congress has so many God-fearing individuals. It is no surprise that politicians lie, but the sad reality is that religion has polluted American politics so much that a person has to fabricate a relationship with God even to have a chance of getting elected. This implies two things; first, we believe in a candidate not because of their policy but because of their beliefs. Second, we cannot separate Church and State as a society because delusional thinking has led us to believe that a man must have God to be moral.


Another issue we face beyond the moral aspects is using religion to pass legislation. Take the medical field; religion in politics has set back life-saving research for many years. Stem cell research is a perfect example of this, as this treatment has the potential to cure Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, blindness, and the list goes on. Many researchers in countries like Japan have proven the scientific ability to retrieve stem cells without harvesting embryos. Still, many politicians see stem cell research as an immoral practice due to pressures from religious groups. For instance, Sam Brownback, former Republican senator and current U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, refutes the idea that stem cell research is beneficial and believes it to be anti-God. When discussing the possibility of allowing more freedom to research the potential treatment, he said, “Why go there if we do not have to? Let’s not go there…Let’s be a culture where every life is sacred, the child of a loving God.” Stem cell research is not the only area in the medical field to be attacked by religious politicians. In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey invoked God to ban nearly all abortions and made it a state felony. She said, “This legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God…” Politicians who pass laws for God cannot claim that they are for the people. A study done by pew research showed that, “Less than a third of Americans say government policies should support religious values.” This being the case, laws passed through religious beliefs are anti-American as they do not align with the majority’s values.


Furthermore, it is dangerous to allow people who think with these ideologies because one could claim that they are not mentally capable of handling their positions. Greg Gianforte, Montana’s Republican Representative, once said, “How old was Noah when he built the ark? 600.” Ted Cruz in 2015 at the CPAC said, ““There would be less disease, less cancer and AIDS and diabetes in this country if people would simply pray. God blesses the righteous with good health and curses the wicked with sickness.” Of course, some religious people are intelligent and can think critically. But the vast majority of religious people have been stripped of their analytical minds through spiritual practice. Richard Daws and Adam Hampshire at Imperial College London studied 63,000 people and concluded that: “Religiosity correlates inversely with intelligence.” In the same study, they stated that, “Based on the low-IQ-religiosity link, it could be argued that humanity is on course to become collectively less smart.” Therefore, it does not seem wise to allow people who believe in talking snakes and 600-year-old men to be placed into extreme positions of power.


Many immoral policies that have arisen in government in recent years have links to politicians with religious beliefs. Most Politicians who deny climate change, are anti-abortion, and anti-same-sex marriage have ties to religious groups. However, if a politician uses religion to gain power, but is not a true believer. Then they are simply a con man, and you have been grifted. The founding fathers never wanted religion to be a part of politics, and still, we allow it to muddy the waters of logic and reason. Mike Pence spoke at the Federalist Society and praised John Adams. So, in the words of Pence’s favorite founding father, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”