COWBOY ART - George Donovan holds up his realistic paintings of cowboys and horses.

Putting cowboy into Princeton art

Princeton artist George Donovan intricately paints what he lives - the cowboy lifestyle.

Princeton artist George Donovan intricately paints what he lives – the cowboy lifestyle.

His rustic artwork features saddled horses, cowboys wearing leather chaps and ranch scenes.

“I go for realism. Someone once told me my paintings look too much like photographs, but others have told me that’s exactly what they like about them,” Donovan told the Spotlight while wearing his signature cowboy hat and plaid shirt.

“It’s up to each artist to decide what they like to create.”

Donovan has been painting for eight years – a late start for the typical artist. But his creativity stems back to elementary school some 60 years ago. He did pencil drawing but stopped when he had to start working full time.

Donovan’s love of horses and inspiration for his artwork started while growing up on an acreage in North Vancouver.

He rode his horse to school everyday and left it in the field until his lessons finished.

It wasn’t until he came to Princeton that he took professional painting lessons and developed his unique style.

“I draw pictures of places I want to be, like 100 Mile House. I still ride horses so I like to draw them too,” the artist says.

He first takes a photo of the person, animal or scene and then paints it using acrylics.

Donovan bred horses on a small ranch, but stopped when the demand fell. He know owns a couple of horses and boards three others.

He sees himself improving artistically, particularly from when he first started.

His mother hung his first painting above the fireplace, bragging about her son’s talent to guests.

“She thought it was wonderful. But when I saw it again after I had been painting for a while, I fixed it up to make it better,” Donovan says.

Painting generally isn’t a year-round activity for the cowboy artist.

He does most of his painting in the winter when the cold days give him more time off.

“I train horses and I am a pastor at Foursquare Church, I’m usually pretty busy,” he says.

He is also helping out with a play his wife Esther is both directing and starring in.

Donovan’s life has gone the way it was destined to. The results of a test he took in ninth grade told him he would grow up to be either a cowboy or preacher.

His paintings can be seen at the Sunflower Art Gallery in Princeton.