But the Ride isn’t for everyone. Fred Fellows, director of Cowboy Artists of America (which sponsors a trail ride for members), was frustrated by his experience on an earlier Ride. "For all the film and work, it wasn't worth my time," he says. "An artist who lives by the camera dies by the camera. The color in film might be totally different from an image painted in real life."
Deuter counters that most artists use material from a variety of sources—photographs, artworks and nature. David Yorke, a former Disney animator turned painter, agrees. "It's like a painter's palette: the more colors you have, the more choices you have," he says. "You can’t get too much material."
For the Indian models in particular, the event helps preserve a heritage. "The way I look at it, my ancestors still exist, and the impact they made, their legacy, is still here," says Moses Brings Plenty, an actor who has appeared in such films as Pirates of the Caribbean. "And through their artwork these artists are carrying on what we do, what we teach them, to others."
"The West is dying," says Shearer. "If not dying, dwindling. It'd be a shame to see all this just go by the wayside."