Red River Valley

Red River Valley $40.00

Red River Valley: 30" by 40" Original Acrylic on canvas by Richard Matteson. C 2008
High quality reproduction on foam core backing 12"by 16"  

ABOUT THE PAINTING: The first thing I did was look at the lyrics and history of the song. I decided right away that my painting would be a western version and my painting would be about a cowboy and a cowgirl.

Probably one of the earliest western versions was by "Powder River" Jack H. Lee. I used his version and combined it with another version to come up with my lyrics. After I had the lyrics I knew I had a cowboy yearning after a cowgirl who was leaving the Red River Valley but she had not left yet.

I could have the cowgirl riding away but you wouldn't really be attracted to her and probably would have a hard time telling she was a cowgirl! After looking at images of cowgirls I decided to use a photo I'd taken of a friend of mine Jess and her horse. She is the real deal, a championship rider.

The other rider is an old photo of a real cowboy. He has his lariat, his gun, and his provisions piled on his horse. He's wearing gloves and a red bandanna- a real cowboy. I had to separate them as if she is posing and ready to leave the Red River Valley and all he can do is watch in the distance.

For interest I have the horses looking at each other as if they know this will be the last time they will see each other. For the setting I looked at different images of the Red River in Texas. Most of them were not inspiring but I found one painting that had the feel I wanted.

After much searching I found an area that was what I wanted, a panoramic view of a river basin. Located in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo is the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It's got the red dirt and the canyon is breathtaking. The only problem was there wasn't a river in the better views of Palo Dura Canyon. No problem for the artist, I could just paint my river, The Red River, at the bottom of the canyon. I'm sure a river or water formed the canyon.

So I put my cowgirl image on one canyon bluff and the cowboy on another. The divide between them symbolizes the fact that they aren't together and she is leaving. I put the lyrics between them also in the bottom middle.

After briefly practicing drawing some of the plants native to the canyon, I drew in some pine shrubs and plants, then added a few rocks in the foreground.


From this valley they say you are going,
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are seeking the sunshine,
That will brightened your pathway for a while.

CHORUS: Come and sit by my side if you love me,
Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
But remember the Red River Valley,
And the cowboy who loved you so true.

Won't you think of the valley you're leaving,
Oh how lonely, how sad it will be?
Won't you think of the fond heart you're breaking,
And the grief you are causing to me.

I have waited a long time, my darling,
For the words that you never would say.
And at last all my fond hopes have vanished,
For they tell me you are going away.




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