Of Mustangs and Trouts: The Paintings of AD Maddox

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Montana artist AD Maddox paints wild westerners from the water to the beach.

In our November/December issue, we featured Montana-based painter AD Maddox and her artistic explorations of trout. We talk to him here about his other pictorial passion: mustangs.

Cowboys and Indians: You were born in Nashville and grew up in an artists’ house. What was your childhood like and when did horses come into the picture?
AD Maddox: It was such a beautiful place 30 or 45 minutes from Nashville proper in the country. I had older sisters and a brother and we were a very close family. My mother was so free-spirited that she always wanted us to go out and play. The answer was always yes. She would kick us out of the house. She made me want to paint. I drew at 4 years old and I painted at 6 years old. I grew up with horses and started riding them at an early age. We had limited television. We were allowed to do cartoons on Saturdays and The Lone Ranger on Sunday. Mom encouraged us to create. We would be bored otherwise.

We moved to Fort Smith when my dad took a job in the oil and gas industry. I was 6 and had an art project drawing animals and writing about them. I drew animals in pencil and knew I was a very good artist above anyone in my class. I’ve always been exceptional with art. My teachers were in awe of my drawings and creations. They just sat and watched. I have never been invalidated. I was admired. This plays a part in why I turned to my art for a living.

THIS: In our November/December issue, we told you about your remarkable trout paintings. You are not only painting fly fishing subjects but also other wildlife including wild mustangs. When did horses enter the scene and what attracts you to painting them?
Madox: I started painting trout to expand my clientele, but long before painting trout, horses were my first subject. I started drawing horses at 5 and 6 years old. Horses are the first major animal I came into contact with besides pets. So many things go into horses. People who love them know there is so much freedom and beauty in being able to ride them. But they are also pets: there is an emotional bond with the animal. I had an emotional bond with many horses on my grandfather’s farm. A trout you could kill and eat or release, but horses are relationships. People pay for the horse, the barn, etc. One of my first jobs in 7and was to clean the stalls of an Arabian horse ranch in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Later, I also helped train show horses. I was even able to ride a horse, and I was able to see one give birth. It was five days a week after school. It was fun and I got cash.

THIS: How do you approach mustang paintings?
Madox: I go out and take the pictures. Last summer I went to Cody, Wyoming where there is a range of wild mustangs that I photographed in the McCullough Peaks area. We had to chase them carefully over very rough terrain in strong winds to be able to focus and photograph. What I love about mustangs is that they are so tough and wild. They are not in stalls. They are in nature, fend for themselves. The warrior is a painting I did of a horse all alone. He had blood flowing from his leg. With mustangs you don’t know if they are going to die or not, that’s how wild the world is. We have no idea what it’s like to live there. It’s brutal. Few of us experience it – maybe people on survival shows. I am captivated by animals in their wild habitat and bring these images to my audience who otherwise would not see them. I’m stuck on the easel all by myself, but the balance is that I get out into nature and bring that part of my world to my audience.

THIS: You are passionate about issues affecting wild rivers and wild lands, fish and horses. Tell us about that.
Madox: My point of view is really that of common sense. Leave the locations as you found them. If you pack trash, take it with you. If you catch trout, release them properly. There’s nothing wrong with exploring and enjoying the great outdoors, but be responsible. You are not the only one living on this planet. There are others, and we are in the same boat. Always think of others.


Visit admaddox.com to learn more about the artist, original artwork, limited edition giclee prints, mats, greeting cards, notebooks and fly boxes. Find the AD Maddox clothing line on fincognito.com and AD Maddox fly boxes and mugs by Montana Fly Company at montanafly.com.

Photography: (All images) courtesy of AD Maddox

Cover Image: Mustang Series #6

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