- Texas longhorn cattle, with their characteristic horns, were almost extinct by the 1920s since modern day ranchers preferred a breed that could fatten up quickly and they no longer valued the longhorn's ability to survive in high heat on little water, but lots of cactus, weeds and brush. In the 1930s they were protected and bred in small stocks, mostly out of the idea of the romance of the Old West but later longhorns became popular for their lean, lower-cholesterol meat. Commercial ranchers now breed them with other cattle for their many strong traits including smarts and easy calving. Artist Bonnie Marris, well known for painting horses, wolves and other wildlife, shows off her ability to portray the essence of any animal. This herd of longhorn is easing across a shallow-water crossing. They're beautiful, intelligent and lean. Sounds like a breed apart.
- The Artist
"Wildlife artist Bonnie Marris' fascination with animals began at an early age when, at the age of two, she spent hours in front of the wolf cage at the zoo, enraptured by the animals within. The attention to detail evident in her work is a consequence of long hours studying her subjects in the field and her background in illustration.
Bonnie Marris has taken an unusual path into art; she developed her talent by portraying animals "from the inside out." While she was a student at Michigan State University, Bonnie illustrated several major books. One volume she worked on was a leading expert's mammalogy text that contained several hundred drawings and detail studies. This massive project attracted the attention of noted zoologist George Schaller, who invited Bonnie to prepare the art for posters that would support his worldwide rare animal relief programs.
In addition to her accomplished skill at rendering her subjects and evident affinity for the wild, Marris' painting requires frequent and substantive field experience. Each year, Bonnie makes two major trips, and countless smaller ones, to observe and learn about the wildlife she loves.
In 1980, one such voyage took her to Alaska, where she lived in the wilderness for six months. Marris recounts, "To get into a natural environment and see the animals on their own terms is as important as knowing the animals themselves.
For instance, gray wolves on the tundra