Original Acrylic - 72 x 48
“This is one in a series of paintings I’ve been doing, telling the story of Billy the Kid but not so much as history but as dance...a ballet if you will.”
Throughout history, the Irish were kept under the thumb of British overlords. In their poverty, one of the things that they turned to was rustling the cattle which belonged to the King. When both the English and the Irish migrated to America (and Australia) they did the same thing, they stole cattle The names of the time reflect this: Clanton, Earp, McCarty (the Kid's real last name), Tunstall, Garrett, Poe, Brewer, etc.
Billy, being Irish, fell right into that groove. With the view that he had to do whatever was needed to survive, Billy took to gambling and rustling. Often wearing a sombrero that had a green hatband around it in honor of his Irish heritage, he stole cattle from John Chisum who, the Kid claimed, owed him back pay. The line between outlaw and lawman became very blurred.
“I wanted to do that painting of Billy as a practicing rustler … but I wanted to make it theatrical, hence, not only is Billy dancing so is his horse! The Kid is more like a trick rider in a circus than an actual rustler … but this is a ballet and so the connection is more between Billy and the trick rider from the circus than it is between Billy and actual rustlers.” - Thom Ross