Art gallery: AD Maddox – Cowboys and Indians Magazine


We caught up with painter AD Maddox at her home in Montana and talked about art, fish, and the way she wraps them on canvas.

Ttalking with painter AD Maddox is like jumping on a motorbike and shooting it. Which one is something Amelia Drane (“Drane is an old last name”) Maddox is known to do. Back in the days when she painted denim and ‘bug bugs’ – and decided to go through AD because it sounds masculine and men make more money than women in art – Ducati used a photo of her on one of her motorcycles carrying her flame -Painted jeans, blond hair seeming to be blowing in the wind. Enough wow.

She always impresses people. But these days it’s more about his art, which has evolved considerably. You can find her paintings in some of her favorite places in the West: Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Livingston, Montana – two great places where she indulges her passions for fly fishing and mustang hunting.

Working in Livingston in a commercial building where she has a gallery up front – her 3,500 square foot “park” – she is busy with a series of trout. “I work exclusively with a guide who catches the fish and holds them for me to photograph,” says Maddox. When the time comes to paint, she goes to her studio.

Bear River Cutthroat

Mill Creek Cutty


“The only thing that matters is to do it – ending the cycles of action so that the attention is not dispersed, it reduces confusion and allows you to focus. The most important ingredient is focus. It takes extreme concentration. “

And, surprisingly, it takes an absence of natural light.

“Where I paint the walls are literally black,” says Maddox. “Everything has to be blacked out, I wear black – no reflections – so I can get the right color. It’s crazy how much reflection can spoil your eyes when trying to color. She has a special lighting system so that she can paint at any time of the day. “It’s very precise in terms of the temperature of the bulbs: 5,000 Kelvin at a specific angle to the overhead art. I have to make sure my lighting is perfect. It’s very intense and involved.

So is Maddox, who says his meticulous approach is needed in “value painting,” which focuses more on the color group and ranges from dark to light to draw photorealism from his oversized works. “The work is so detailed that the workload of a 30-by-40-inch canvas seems to double its size. The larger pieces are 3 by 4 feet, but I do orders of 4 by 6. ”

You could say it catches very large fish.

We caught up with Maddox at her home in Montana and talked about art, fish, and the way she wraps them on canvas.

Cowboys & Indians: After many trips, you have settled in the West. Why?
AD Maddox: Jackson Hole was a place my parents took us to when we were younger; it was a family vacation spot. I learned to ski there when I was 10 years old. It was in my diary when I was 12 how touched I was by this magical place. When I was 20 or 21, I made the decision to move to Jackson. In my twenties, I made my mark working with a company in the square that made t-shirts and painted clothes. I was a cocktail waitress at the time and I met a lot of tourists. I went back to school in Denver in Computer Art, but was confused about working with the computer. I stayed in Denver for about three years and then made a big effort to get back to Jackson Hole. This is where I really found my way. I could think of when I was in Jackson. My head cleared up. It’s not that open now, but back then there was a lot of space. In less than a year, I was in a large gallery. All this time in Denver, I was painting western horses and cowboys, and doing trunk shows in Santa Fe to sell my art. After a few years in Jackson Hole, I moved to Livingston, MT three years ago. It’s a very creative and inspiring community. Lots of writers live here.

THIS : You are known for your fish paintings and Jackson Hole is a great base for fly fishing. Tell us about your first fishing trip.
Maddox: I grew up fishing, but it was for bass and family. I learned fly fishing in 2000 or 2001. My dad bought a vacation home and took me to Yellowstone River. He put a rod in my hand and taught me how to fly fishing. At first it was uncomfortable and difficult to throw, but I adopted it very quickly. The first two times the fly was everywhere except in the water. I needed to catch the trout to get them to paint. I was already painting them and selling them. I needed more information than the photos I was supposed to paint from. It was something new and exciting that I had never done. Integrating all the world I created: photographing, painting, fishing. I love discovering new things, especially with my father, who is 76 years old and still avid fly fishing and hunting.

The world of streams

Isolated water series # 3

Mustang Series # 6


THIS : When and where did you first realize how visually evocative fly fishing and trout are? What did you see?
Maddox: In 1998, a gallery owner suggested that I paint the trout as a possible motif for the gallery, so I got some visuals so I could paint them. The first piece sold in 20 minutes for $ 1,000. I was 28 and I was like, Wow, this is successful. I wanted to paint and earn money so that I could do what I love forever. I had tried to pay my rent and my credit card bills by working in a sports medicine hospital, receiving a very small hourly wage, and working hard. So there was money that could be earned. But then there were the fish themselves. You don’t see how amazing they are unless you bring them to the surface. Rainbow. Brown. Stream. Cut-throat. They are so electric in color. And they vary in their colors. You would never know unless you took them out of the water. I brought beautiful creatures hidden from the river bed and made them visible. The different color combinations blew me away. Then I started to learn about them. Not all rainbows have the same number of spots on their fins. Depending on the river and the surrounding vegetation, the coloring varies. I saw that the trout were not frozen in their color. The cut-throat has a red slash on its gills, hence its name. I learned the salient features, then the variations. I found so much freedom in painting them.

THIS : Your work captures water in a unique way. How to visually convey liquid, movement, light?
Maddox: It is an art form in itself to bring to the canvas. When I started doing the fish, I was doing portraits with someone holding them, and I would zoom in on the head. I would find a composition that I found aesthetic. Then I worked with some photos taken by [photographer and fishing guide] Tom Montgomery he would give me to work on. Some were in the water. Next comes the interpretation of water. I have had so much feedback on the way I return the water. I didn’t know how I did it, it was just my artistic interpretation. I slowly but surely became known for painting water like no one has done before with these trout. Then I started to put the trout in the water. He evolved. I no longer like to take portraits. Fish squeak when you take them out of the water; they squeal like a chicken. It causes me pain to inflict any distress. So now the fish stays on the line in the water near the surface so I can see the brilliant color that shines through. My guide holds them for me in the water and I move around to get the perspective I need. The trout are not private and are not injured. They are happy on the line. This is the least impact on the fish.

THIS : You are an outdoorswoman and an artist. What is the balance?
Maddox: My main love in life is painting. In summer, I photograph; in the fall, I return to easel painting every day. I work on the balance of being able to go out and breathe. There is another job of living a good clean life outside of the studio. I have to continue to live a great life everyday and do things right so that I can focus on the easel. You have to keep your hands clean, keep your ethics in order. You can’t do crazy things and expect to perform at a high level. You must be a good person.

Visit AD Maddox online at See more of his art and read about his mustang paintings here.

From our November / December 2021 issue

Photography: (All images) courtesy of AD Maddox

Cover image: Boulder River Rainbow


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