Ben has been painting since he was 5, and has won prizes for his paintings since the age of 7! Now all grown up, his paintings have moved away from the ledger-style of his early youth, to demonstrate a mature proficiency.
This dramatic painting reflects the Kiowa culture of his mother, but the exceptional skill it demonstrates probably comes from his father, the famous painter, Bennie “Yellowman” Nelson.
There is a fabulous mix of painting techniques here: the face and the eagle feathers are stark, with a flat effect. Compelling and forceful, they are stylized, rather than naturalistic.
The background is breathtaking in its dimensionality and exhibits mature mastery of the medium. The colors and ephemeral shapes are an impressive demonstration of painterly ease and confidence.
There are three teepees, painted in black, and the shadow of a dog or coyote contrasting the bright and vivid background. The Kiowa man in the foreground is watching over those sleeping in the teepees, and along with his companion, is protecting his people.
This is a remarkable painting, showing the fluid mastery of a mature artist, together with a powerful esthetic and emotional impact.