The C.M. Russell Museum founded the Russell Skull Society of Artists in 2013 to recognize living American Western artists whose work celebrates the themes and tradition of Charles M. Russell (1864–1926) and his contemporaries in their portrayal of the Old West.

Currently the group comprises 22 distinguished members recognized for their artistic achievement, ongoing commitment to the mission of the Russell Museum, and history of participation in The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum, the museum’s major fundraising event.

The members of the society hail from varying backgrounds, geographical locations, and avenues by which they arrived at their Western subjects. Some are formally trained; some are self-taught. They work in a variety of styles that, on one end of the spectrum, uphold traditional realism, and on the other end, explore new aesthetic realms in the provocative reinterpretation of traditional themes.


One common goal defines the group: to apply their considerable skills as artists to capture the abiding spirit of the West.


Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey

Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey is a colorist with a strong sense of design. She is a founding member of the Russell Skull Society of Artists. She is the Featured Artist for the 30th Anniversary of the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival in 2014. Nancy has participated regularly in the C.M. Russell Auction, Western Masters Art Show, Western Visions at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Cowgirl Up! Show, Small Works, Great Wonders at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and annual shows at both the Gilcrease and Phippen Museums

Visit Artist's Website Visit Artist's Facebook Page Visit Artist's Twitter Feed

Michael Coleman

Michael Coleman was born and raised in Provo, Utah and spent his boyhood hunting, fishing and trapping throughout the Rocky Mountains, often taking a sketchbook with him. Coleman quickly became a prominent Southwestern artist at the age of 32. He exhibited at the National Academy of Western Art and at Kennedy Galleries in New York. In 1999, Coleman won the Prix de West Award at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame for his bronze of a moose titled “September,” which has joined the permanent collection of the Hall of Fame.

Visit Artist's Website

Todd Connor

Todd Connor grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began to paint at age twelve. After serving as a Navy SEAL, he resumed painting, earning a BFA in illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Since then, he has made his living painting historical Western subjects, particularly mountain men and pioneers.

Visit Artist's Website

Brent Cotton

Brent Cotton is a Montana based artist painting in the Tonalist/Luminist style. His work has garnered many awards and he's nationally recognized for his moody paintings filled with light and atmosphere. His favored subjects include; riverscapes with fly fishermen, quiet pastoral landscapes that celebrate the rural way of life, and images of his family. A member of the prestigious Prix de West society and now the Russell Skull society. He lives in the beautiful Bitterroot valley of Montana with his wife Jennifer and their two children.

Visit Artist's Website Visit Artist's Facebook Page

C. Michael Dudash

C. Michael Dudash has produced oil paintings for publishers, galleries, and clients for more than 38 years. He has been featured in several art magazines, including Art of the West, Southwest Art and Western Art Collector. He is represented by several prestigious galleries around the country, and in 2012 he published a book on his Western work. His collectors appreciate the draftsmanship, use of light and colorful atmosphere that Michael is able to bring to his paintings of the old frontier. He lives near Coeur d’Alene, ID.

Visit Artist's Website

Josh Elliott

Josh Elliott was born in Great Falls, Montana, in 1973 and is a third-generation artist. His grandfather studied with Grant Wood, and his father is wildlife artist Steve Elliott, who taught and encouraged him. Elliott learned the importance of painting from life and discovered his passion for painting outdoors. He believes that we were made to appreciate beauty, and he feels his work is a celebration of beauty and truth. Although being true to reality is important to Elliott, he aims for creating art, something interpretive, something more than a good rendering, something of himself. Elliott says, "A good painting, to me, is nature's truth filtered through the artist."

Visit Artist's Website

Luke Frazier

Luke Frazier’s art is a byproduct of his life and the travels he’s had while hunting and fishing around the world. Like a good storyteller, he’s had to be a keen observer, and immerse himself in his surroundings. Frazier received his formal art training at Utah State University, where he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting and a master of fine arts degree in illustration. Frazier says, “My goal as an artist is to offer up a different point of view of the natural world. As a sportsman, I want to tell a gripping story between antagonists, an emotionally charged powerful scene, or a calm intimate close-up.”

Visit Artist's Website

Charles Fritz

Charles Fritz’s awards from the C.M. Russell Auction include four Best of Shows and a People’s Choice in painting. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the MacNider Museum, the Woolaroc Museum and the C.M. Russell Museum. His nationally known collection “An Artist with the Corps of Discovery” has been exhibited at eleven museums across the country and most recently was the inaugural exhibit at the new Scottsdale Museum of the West, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Visit Artist's Website

John Gawne

John C. Gawne, the 2007 C.M. Russell Auction CEO Award winner, has participated in the C.M. Russell auction since 1995. Painting since the early 1990s, he is represented in numerous galleries and has been a participant in the Buffalo Bill Art Show, Settlers West Miniature Show, and Coeur d’Alene Miniature Show.

Visit Artist's Website

R. Tom Gilleon

The past year was an especially fruitful one for the collaboration between artist R. Tom Gilleon and the C.M. Russell Museum. During the Museum’s 2013 art auction, Gilleon’s painting, Hair Apparent, set a new record for highest sale price by a living artist. This summer the Museum featured Gilleon’s first one-man museum retrospective to be shown in the western United States: Let Icons Be Icons. These and other accomplishments recently earned Gilleon a place in the Russell Skull Society of Artists: a small group of contemporary artists recognized by the C.M. Russell Museum as being leading lights of the Western art world.

Visit Artist's Website

Carol Hagan

Carol Hagan is a self-taught artist from Billings, Montana. Her paintings are contemporary expressions of her love for horses, the stunning landscapes of the American West, and the multitude of wildlife species that make it their home. Her work is represented in fine galleries in Montana, Wyoming, and Arizona. Hagan is extremely honored to be a member of the Russell Skull Society of Artists.

Visit Artist's Website Visit Artist's Facebook Page

Greg Kelsey

Greg Kelsey’s sculpture reveals his intensity for both form and subject. No matter the subject, he believes that form is the most significant thing about a sculpture. He finds it a powerful combination when form and subject are both meaningful. Greg is a member of the Russell Skull Society of Artists.

Visit Artist's Website Visit Artist's Facebook Page

Lee Kromschroeder

Lee Kromschroeder is published by Wild Wings in Lake City, Minnesota, and has emerged as one of the most recognized and celebrated new artists of the wildlife genre. He is represented in some of the finest galleries, and his work is found in many private collections. He has always pushed the boundaries of art—never afraid to try new and controversial approaches to art and is a constant student of the Old World masters.

Visit Artist's Website

Joe Kronenberg

Joe Kronenberg is a self-taught artist working in oils. He has studied and been influenced by many techniques of the nineteenth century classical realists' styles, which are evident in the Old World feel his wildlife paintings take on. He was the 2009 recipient of the C.M. Russell Museum Auction's Ralph "Tuffy" Berg Award. He was a finalist in the Art Renewal Center's 2011 and 2014–2016 International Salon and has received numerous best of show and people's choice awards. Kronenberg is a member of the Russell Skull Society of Artists.

Visit Artist's Website

Jerry McKellar

Bronze sculptor Jerry McKellar, whose works range from miniature to monumental, is a Russell Skull Society charter member. His awards include several from C.M. Russell shows: 2006 CEO Award; 2010, 2009, 2006, 2005, and 1997 People’s Choice Best Sculpture; and the 1997 Artists’ Choice Award. His sculptures have been added to the permanent collections of museums, corporations, and communities. He was featured in a PBS Northwest Profile TV segment in 2015, and his large When Wealth Was Pelts won a Best Sculpture award from the Sioux Falls sculpture walk in 2016.

Visit Artist's Website

Chris Owen

Chris Owen majored in art at MSU-Billings, and at Art Center-College of Design in Los Angeles. His works are in the permanent collections at the Pearce Western Art Museum, Corsicana, TX, the National Western in Denver, The Old West Museum in Cheyenne, as well as in private and corporate collections nationwide.

Visit Artist's Website

Chad Poppleton

Chad Poppleton a resident of Cache Valley Utah, has been interested in art ever since he can remember. His interest began while on the farm and ranch with his grandfather working with the animals understanding attitudes and behaviors. Chad’s father, also an artist, taught him how to draw and look at things through an artist’s eye. His work is represented in the most prestigious galleries and shows across the US and profiled in all leading art publications. Chad is a proud member of the Russell Skull Society of Artists.

Visit Artist's Website Visit Artist's Facebook Page

Gary Lynn Roberts

Gary Lynn Roberts, being a story-teller, welcomes you into his canvas. His love of horses, rodeo and art has enhanced him as a Western artist to develop a style of realism and impressionism. He is the recipient of several awards from different museums for “Best of Show” and “Peoples’ Choice”. Gary Lynn is honored to be a member of the C.M. Russell Museums' "Skull Society" of artists. He currently resides in Hamilton, Montana with his wife Nancy and their two children Mary and Anna.

Visit Artist's Website Visit Artist's Facebook Page

W. Steve Seltzer

W. Steve Seltzer paints a wide variety of subject matter ranging from contemporary landscapes to historical scenes, from still lifes to figural works. He has been a professional full-time artist for more than 40 years and has work in collections throughout the United States and Canada. Steve has had numerous one-man shows, and his paintings have been featured in Southwest Art, Wildlife Art, and Art of the West.

Visit Artist's WebsiteVisit Artist's Facebook Page

Brett James Smith

Brett James Smith, known for his classic scenes in the sporting tradition, has in the last few years turned his skill and attention to Western subjects. His subject matter expanded to include Native Americans and the adventurous characters that populated the West. In October 2013, Brett was chosen as a member of the Russell Skull Society of Artists, who exemplify the best in Western art.

Visit Artist's Website

Andy Thomas

Andy Thomas, an inaugural artist of the Russell Skull Society, is a self-taught artist who strives to bring intense motion and a story to each canvas of the iconic and historic West as his ultimate goal. He has been a full-time professional artist since 1991 and is represented by Greenhouse Gallery of San Antonio.

Visit Artist's Website Visit Artist's Facebook Page Visit Artist's Twitter Feed

Randy Van Beek

Randy Van Beek has been painting full time since 1980. His studies and influences are derived from the 19th-century American, Dutch, and Austrian masters. Randy has been participating in the C.M. Russell Art Auction since 1990, and was inducted as a founding member into the prestigious Russell Skull Society of Artist in 2013. The institutions from which he has received notable awards include the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Society, John Clymer Art Museum, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, People’s Choice Award at the National Western Art Association and the Gold Medal award from the Blackfoot Valley Art Auction.

Visit Artist's Website Visit Artist's Facebook Page

All media © C.M. Russell Museum, all rights reserved. (406)-727-8787