I took on ‘photographic biographies’ of a number of historically significant individuals. Of them, Russell was the most likable. That’s because he was that way in life—well liked, happy within himself and in his work. He was a prolific artist with an outpouring of paintings, sculptures, sketches and illustrated letters that in aggregate catch the American west at a time of great change.

He also lived in a place that was visually inspiring—Montana. The narratives he painted were drawn from actual episodes of the Native Americans, cowboys, trappers and guides he personally knew as friends. And the landscape he portrayed actually exists.

So it’s possible today to stand where he stood. It’s also possible to see a modern version of the western way of life he knew.

I worked in Montana on and off for a year concentrating on evoking the world Russell knew, loved and painted.