Many artists go in search of subjects and inspiration. Carrie L. Ballantyne has only to look around her. Her subjects are the men, women and children of the high plains, where she lives with her husband and children near a 14,000-acre cow and calf camp. Her portraits suit her subjects; deceptively simple and strong, but still delicate and elegant. It’s a far cry from her childhood near Los Angeles, but Ballantyne was merely following her muse. She sent a letter to the Dude Ranchers’ Association, having finished high school a year early and was soon serving kitchen duty at a guest ranch in Cody, Wyoming. There she met Jesse Ballantyne, the Canadian bronc rider she was to marry. For the next few years, however, she worked as an outfitter’s camp cook. But as she accompanied fishermen and hunters into the Absaroka Mountains, her sketchbook was never far away. As she became increasingly skilled in pencil, her work came to the attention of painter Ted Feely, who urged her to attend the George Phippen Western Art Show in Arizona. There she not only met the renowned James Bama, who she cites as her biggest influence, but sold most of her drawings, starting her career as a Western fine artist. “I choose to portray country people because they are the ones who live and work around me,” she says. “Tender moments that please me typically appear in my work. I am always striving to communicate all the emotions you can see in a face, posture and other body language.” Her awards include first place at the George Phippen Memorial Show and “Best in Show” at the Buffalo Bill Art Show.