The images I create are of real life and real places in western Montana. But the story begins on a farm in north east Nebraska. The setting is of rolling prairies just off Devil’s Nest an area surrounding Lewis and Clark Lake along the Missouri River. This place historically was known as an area where Jesse James and his gang used as a hideout after robbing a bank in South Dakota.
It was in this setting where I first felt a connection to the landscape and to nature. I spent many hours horseback riding the rolling hills of my father’s farm. Like many young girls, I fell in love with horses. When I wasn’t out with them, I was drawing them. It was really an act of bullying that forced me into a deeper connection then normal to horses and animals in general. The first act was early in first grade when I was teased that I couldn’t color between the lines.
Being ostracized from the girls in my class began in seventh grade. It was then when I really withdrew from people and locked into relationships with horses and nature. I didn’t talk much, I spoke through art. Being in rural Nebraska we didn’t have a very good art program. The only “art” I saw was of an abstract oil painting given to my Mother from my Grandparents. It was of a matador slaying a bull with swords. It was very graphic and seemed out of place. I felt that my Grandparents really didn’t understand what my Dad did for a living.
Upon graduation, I felt that I had two options for supporting myself, horses or art. I chose horses and put away art for thirty years. Instead I started colts, I worked for stables. I married my husband who at the time was a wildlife biologist. We moved out west where I continued working with horses and teaching riding lessons and volunteering as a coach for the 4-H horse program. It was during a Hippology contest when I began sketching again. While the girls were off testing, I would doodle. Quickly I began to draw more intricate pieces.
In 2015, my husband and I walked through the art exhibits during Western Art Week in Great Falls, MT near where we live. I witnessed my first Scratchboard artist, I was amazed by the detail she could get with her etchings. I was hooked. I went out immediately and purchased the supplies she said I needed and I created art on a whole new level.
During the “dark” era when I thought I put away art, I took up photography. Throughout my husband’s career I was exposed to wildlife in beautiful settings. Nothing is wasted. I believe everyone is given talents in life. Nothing happens by accident. The only disservice is not to use your talents.
I like the black and white. It’s not only literal, to me it means bringing the light out of darkness. When I use a knife to scratch the black India ink off the clay board, I am creating the highlights. Revealing the image which I see within. The detail is incredible.
I use almost exclusively all my own photos as reference for my pieces. I believe that I can tell the story better by doing so. Sometimes I will compose an image by combining several images together. I’m really enjoying the possibilities. I have found my voice. It speaks of “Wildlife in wild places and Western Scenes”.
Kody Bundy Scratchboard Art.