Daphne was raised in rural North Dakota, near the Montana border, where she spent much of her adolescence at her grandparent’s ranch; chasing cows, building fences, milking cows and helping check for spring calves. Daphne received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Minot State University in 2003 and has worked as an Environmental Health Practitioner striving to protect the area where she was raised from the impacts of rapid growth due to oil production. Over the years, Daphne has watched the ranching life in North Dakota and Montana disappear, giving way to an oil-based economy.
In 2010, Daphne was inspired to start painting when a friend introduced her to oil paint as a medium. She discovered she could easily spend hours mixing colors and manipulating paint on the canvas with different brushes, strokes and the pallet knife. The fluidity and versatility of this new medium had her hooked, yet Daphne craved feedback to further her skill set. In 2012, Daphne enrolled at the Academy of Art University to pursue a Master’s in Fine Art. Like the ranchers she depicts, Daphne believes in hard work. She selected AAU because of their philosophy anyone can create art if they are willing to put in the work. It was a natural fit to bring together her background and love for ranching and the outdoors into her paintings. Daphne believes there is a story in these rural areas just waiting to be told to the rest of the world and she wants to tell that story.
Every day in America, there is a tragic loss of family owned, working ranches. Through my paintings, I am trying to capture this lifestyle, before it disappears altogether. I want to provide a window into a world of how the ranchers work, and to commemorate the disappearing landscape, animals, ranchers and traditional tools of their trade.
I have lived all my life near the border of North Dakota and Montana, and it is in this area I spend time on these vanishing ranches. While taking reference photos, I tried to stay out of the way and not influence the roping, branding, sorting and other actions taking place. I then create the oil paintings in my studio from those images. I paint with muted colors because I don’t want saturated color to distract from the traditional ranch work or ranch implements, like saddles and ropes in the painting.
In “Branding Day” I explore the visual reality and specific action of the branding process. One method was to keep in my composition, the baseball caps the real ‘calf-wrestlers’ were wearing in the photos. When wrestling calves, instead of cowboy hats, most ranchers wear baseball caps, so they can stay on. In “Brushing and Bonding” I wanted to show the tenderness and bonding that goes into the caretaking of their animals.
Through my artwork, I feel an obligation to tell the story of these ranchers as it really is. In presenting their story with form and color I am reliving my childhood memories, honoring their work and keeping this disappearing lifestyle alive.
Getting In Touch
Daphne welcomes commissions please contact her with what you are looking for and to set up a time to visit in more detail. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the contact page.