“The Importance of Ceremony”

Bennie Nelson (Yellowman)



A renowned, award-winning painter, and outspoken advocate for Native causes, Yellowman often paints powerful portraits of warriors.

Although of Navajo heritage, he often paints figures of his wife’s Kiowa tribe, as here; three elders, or warriors, are prepared for an important ceremony.

His mastery of every medium is evident in his work. Here, the exquisite details, and sweeping lines of the figures’ cloaks, added to the jewel-like hues of the painting, make an indelible impression.

Although the three figures are all looking to the left, the vertical lines of their staffs keep the viewer’s eye in the painting.

Repeated sprays of eagle feathers, on their heads and in their shields, also keep the eye moving around the composition.

There is also repeated circular forms: in the bear claw necklace, the red collar of the one in the middle, and the pendant on the man at the right, as well as the two shields.

Gorgeously painted robes add their three-dimensional curves and diagonals, along with the magnificent colors of blue, purple – and its complementary golden yellow, with accents of red.

Along with the sweep of color and forms, there is a wealth of fastidiously painted detail.

Notice how the hairs are delineated, and how every bristle of the wolf’s fur is shown. Each hand is beautifully painted, and the feathers are also meticulously realistic.

You will notice these, and other marvelous examples of artistic expertise, every time you look at this beautiful, powerful, painting.

Matted, framed, and ready to hang. Just choose a wall and admire.

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