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Shane-Painting-Thom Ross-Sorrel Sky Gallery
Shane-Painting-Thom Ross-Sorrel Sky Gallery
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Shane

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acrylic on canvas
60 x 60
Based on the character from the Jack Schaffer novel, "Shane" (1949), the story is seen from an old man's perspective of a magical summer from his youth when a mysterious stranger appeared in their valley. In the novel, the old man recalls that summer and all that happened: how the stranger came to stay with them as a hired hand and, for some reason, took it upon himself to "protect" the boy's family. The descriptions of both Shane and his horse suggest a kind of being that this young boy has never seen before. The action rises to a climactic gunfight in which Shane dispatches the bad guys and rides away as mysteriously as he had appeared. The novel plays on the recollections of the young boy, who is now an old man, and thus the characters appear dimly lit by his fading memory and thus they take on almost unearthly-like beings.

In 1953 "Shane", the movie was released. Directed by George Stevens, the movie starred Alan Ladd as Shane. The premise is the same: the stranger who rides into the valley to help sort out the problems of the local ranchers/homesteaders vs the cattle barons. Stevens altered much of the novel to fit the different medium (novel vs. film) and produced a masterpiece. (For me the film is vastly superior to the novel which I find tedious).

Now, because of the cinematic medium, the mysterious stranger, Shane, has to appear in human form. But there is much symbolism in the movie that most people don't recognize and these aspects (as I interpret them) suggest that Shane is not a real human, but, rather, an avenging angel to descends into the valley (as you see in the opening scene of the movie); he helps the struggling farmers in their "war" with the local cattle baron and, in the end, is forced to confront the cattle baron and two of his men in a burst of violence in which Shane kills the three men but suffers a wound himself.

Unable to remain in the valley, Shane rides off into the night, disappearing in the fading moonlight as the young boy pleads with him to "COME BACK!"

The final scene shows Shane ascending back UP the very same way that he had entered the valley at the beginning of the movie; but there is one final segment which most viewers don't consider and it is this: in the very last moments of the film, a wounded Shane is shown riding thru a graveyard and, in the final moment, he is shown riding his horse back down into his grave; he was indeed an angelic force who rose out of his grave to go help the struggling farmers and when his duty was done, he rides back to his grave from whence he came.

So in the painting, I have painted Shane as an angelic figure (all white, including his exposed right hand) and you see how he blends into the background sky as if he is more sky than human.

Clint Eastwood made a movie which was a variation on "Shane". It was called "Pale Rider" and that is precisely how I have painted Shane here.

This comes from Revelations 6:8 - "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."

So, like Eastwood, I have changed it from a pale horse to a pale rider; indeed, my horse is blood red to suggest the color of Hell-fire.

(The film was shot in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so you can see a range of mountains in the distance which intentionally bears a slight resemblance to the Tetons: the Grand Teton appears at far left while Mt. Moran appears at the far right.)