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life on a dude ranch start to my art journey
This is the story of how I started my art business.

It all started at a Dude Ranch in Colorado. This was the turning point in my life. I had always lived in a city and after a couple years of monotonous routine I dreamed of lakes and mountains, and vast landscapes. I also always wanted to spend a summer in the U.S so one day, I flew from France to Colorado to work on a ranch for a summer. And I never went back. Well, I physically went back and forth a few times but my heart stayed there.

life on a dude ranch art journey pin
The Ranch Life

This ranch was located in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Guests would come for a week and do horseback riding, fly fishing, some shooting at the outdoor range, learn to rope cows and go to a rodeo. A perfect western experience over the course of a week.

At the time, the ranch wasn’t very popular yet and on some weeks we would only find ourselves hosting a handful of guests. By the end of their one-week stay, we had befriended them all. I remember a lot of partying and drinking my first year working on that ranch! Work hard, play hard, right? There was a lot of hangover mornings, getting up at 6 am to get breakfast ready and cleaning cabins right after. I don’t think I could do it now but I was in my late teenage years/early adult life at the time so it wasn’t a problem at all.

girl roping
ranch cattle drive

Things to expect on a guest ranch:

  • Dirt is everywhere. And I mean everywhere! When it’s not dirt, it’s mud. Better get used to it
  • Wherever you look there will be an animal: whether it’s the horses, a goat, a chicken, the donkey wandering about, the hummingbirds flying above your head like tiny missiles, or the occasional bear.
  • You never stop working. Ever. There’s always something to do. Clean that, fix that, prep that.
  • But the work is fun. Gotta go up to that cabin by the lake to set up for barbecue dinner? Sure, you get to enjoy the barbecue too! Gotta go the camp in the mountain to prep it for guests staying there overnight? You get to sleep under the stars too.
horses stamped colorado ranch
Horses and more horses

I used to ride when I was a kid – English-style riding – but it’s on this ranch that I discovered western riding and my word do I love it! You just cruise on the trails, through meadows, aspen groves and wildflowers. It renewed my love of horses, and eventually, of art. Being surrounded by horses all day made me want to start painting again. I bought a sketchbook, some acrylic paint, and got started. A couple years later, I decided to try selling my art online.

riding in the sunset

There is something about riding in the mountains, a sense of freedom. It’s you, the horse and the trees. What is it they say? “The world is best viewed through the ears of a horse”. Although the first painting I did with the intention to sell was of a tiger, I did quite a few horses after that. Looking back at them I came a long way since then. My style tremendously improved. Below are some of my latest paintings.

Horse paintings collage
Get these artworks on Society6 or in my Etsy shop!
Animals everywhere!

It’s also on this ranch that I discovered alpacas for the first time. I had never heard of them before. Imagine my surprise when I saw these fluffy llama-looking animals for the first time. They came from a nearby ranch and for some reason the people there couldn’t take care of them so our ranch’s owners took them in. The horses were incredibly scared of them so unfortunately, the ranch had to get rid of them eventually.

alpacas photo
Alpacas painting acrylic
This alpacas painting is available on Society6 or in my Etsy shop!

Dogs were everywhere too! There have been a few days where the dogs outnumbered the people actually, which was great because who doesn’t like puppies? Animals were everywhere! Animals being the main inspiration for my art, you can imagine how I loved living on a ranch.

I also had my first bear encounter and was incredibly happy when that happened. I had heard bears would rummage through the trash cans in the evening so I would jump on a truck and try to go see one but they were always gone when I arrived. Until one day, one was right there in front of me. A cute and fluffy black bear! I encountered quite a few more in the next few months, and the next years. Bears are among my favorite animals.

bear2 small
Get this artwork on Society6 or in my Etsy shop!

Living on a dude ranch really was the true western experience: horses, rodeos, cows and dogs, bears and pickup trucks, line dancing (and drinking!). I completely fell in love with the mountains of Colorado during my time in the U.S. Incredible movie-like landscapes are all around!

mountain landscape

Wherever you look, beauty is there. Sure it takes a long time to get anywhere and there is not much to do around besides outdoor activities but I never was much of a city person so to me, it’s the dream life. Where to better start an art business? Inspiration is all around. So, eventually, I moved there. I now live in the middle of nowhere, in the Rocky Mountains, and I love it!

ranch landscape and horse

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41 Comments

  1. What an amazing experience! Even if it was work, work, work, it seems that you also had a lot of fun as well. I remember my younger days when sleeping wasn’t that important, lol. I can understand how the ranch inspired you so much, especially the animals there.

    1. Yes it really was the start to everything for me 🙂

  2. This looks absolutely amazing! I used to love to ride horses but it has been over a decade (or more?). This would be a really cool experience and unlike anything I have done before. Plus, how beautiful is that scenery!

    1. I really miss riding, it’s been a while for me too now, but the scenery is always amazing where I live!

  3. Beautiful photos! I’d love to go to a dude ranch one day. It’s so gorgeous there. My daughter loves to ride horses!

    1. You definitely should, it’s so much fun! It makes for a great vacation!

  4. I bet this is such a wonderful way to spend time, I love being around animals and if I had the money and mobility a small holding would have been something I loved one day.

    1. I hope you get to do it one day!

  5. The ranch looks amazing, what a great experience. And your paintings are gorgeous for real, wow…

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad you think so!

  6. I’ve never experienced a ranch life, but it looks really thrilling! So many things to do an learn. I also love your paintings, they are truly beautiful. 🙂

    1. Thank you! If you ever have the opportunities I highly recommend going to a guest ranch on vacation, it’s so much fun (even for me that was working and not on vacation).

  7. omg i would love doing this so much. i sit at a desk and stare at a computer day after day, so this would be such a breath of fresh air. literally.

    1. Haha you should do it! I highly recommend it, it’s so much fun!

  8. What an amazing experience. To find your ‘happy place’ is such a pleasure and privilege

    1. It really is, I agree.

  9. Man, where you are and what you are doing.. I absolutely like to be in your place too.. The place looks breathe-taking and I love animals. Sigh.. What a great time for you to blog this. Please continue.

    1. Thanks! 🙂

  10. wow! It looks like you had a great experience. My dream is to live in a ranch with that view. It looks so beautiful. I love the alpacas they are from Peru. Enjoy your stay because it seems to be a paradise.

    1. It truly was an amazing experience!

  11. Those photos look great for adventure people. I love alpacas and I would like to go to ranch place.

    1. Thank you! Alpacas are so cute!

  12. love, love, love these photos & the place!

    1. Thank you!

  13. It’s so nice that you get inspiration for your art work from your surroundings. All the pieces are so beautiful. You are very talented.

    1. Thank you!

  14. I had a friend who used to work on a ranch. Gosh, she said it was so much work but so much fun all at once.

    1. It is! The amount of work equals the amount of fun!

  15. Your art is so beautiful!!! I have been thinking and looking into dude ranches lately. It seems like a wonderful place!

    1. Thank you! I highly recommend going there on vacation (or working there for a season).

  16. I have been afraid of riding horses since I was a kid. But after watching your stunning pictures, I would love to experience it too. Thanks for sharing

    1. You should try it if you ever have the occasion, it’s not as scary as it looks.

  17. What an amazing experience! I love how you shared this experience and your paintings. Ranch life is hard work but so amazing.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was so much work but so much fun too!

  18. This was a really
    Good read! Thank you for sharing your experience

    1. You’re welcome!

  19. I too wanna go for horse riding once in my life. I am so glad you got to work what you actually love.

    1. Thank you! Horseback riding is amazing!

  20. Wow you get to live a true cowboy lifestyle. I am glad it resonated with your spirit and you are truly happy there!

    1. Thank you! 🙂

  21. […] moved all the way from Europe to the U.S for a summer, not knowing anyone there and barely knowing how to speak the language (I could […]

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