“I try not to paint eyelashes, unless they are really important,” says artist Lynda Lanker, whose portraits of women of the West are as intimate and forthright as the flesh-and-blood women they depict. Though some of Lanker’s work is so detailed that for a moment the portraits appear to be photographs, even her more abstract pieces capture a sense, a feeling, of these generations of ranch women and cowgirls.
“Tough by Nature” represents almost 20 years’ worth of painting, sketching and interviewing 49 women in 13 western states. It captures not just a moment in time, but also a spirit. The exhibit, which is accompanied by a book featuring the portraits and interviews with the women, presents Lanker’s work in pencil and charcoal, oil pastel, egg tempera, plate and stone lithography, engraving and drypoint. “Tough by Nature” opens at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) at the University of Oregon on July 1.