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Preserving a Culture: Wyoming watercolorist finds passion in preserving and representing today’s Western way of life

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Liberty Proffit Day, a part-time ranch hand, part-time watercolor artist, part-time school district faculty member and full-time mother, truly embodies what it means to be a woman in agriculture. 

As if leading this busy lifestyle wasn’t enough, Liberty also dedicates every brush stroke she makes to preserving the Western culture she is so fond of and providing representation to a group of people who are not always accurately depicted. 

A lifelong passion

Liberty’s love for creating art started at a very young age. She fondly remembers drawing on anything that could serve as a canvas for a little girl’s masterpiece. 

“I have always loved to draw, and my parents were incredible in the way they supported me,” she says. “My mom would actually bring home scrap paper from work because I ran out of paper a lot. I drew on everything, and at one point, she even had to tell me to stop drawing on the toilet paper.” 

She continues, “My dad would bring home magazines like Western Horseman, point out the artists and tell me it was something I could do.” 

As she grew older, Liberty continued to pursue her passion, enrolling in art class throughout junior high and high school, where, she notes, she was often criticized for lacking skills in certain areas. 

“It always mad me so mad, but it pushed me to be better,” she states. 

Liberty graduated from high school believing she would never do anything with art because she didn’t think there were opportunities to pursue it. She attended college at the University of Wyoming, where she originally set out to obtain a degree in agriculture. 

Following the suggestion of her advisors to keep an open mind and take classes outside of her major, Liberty started sneaking art classes into her course schedule, only to find they were her favorite. 

“By the time I graduated, I had changed my major to a Bachelor of Fine Art with so many minors it would probably make my advisors cry,” she laughs.

Preservation and representation

Following graduation, Liberty was still unsure of what possibilities and opportunities lay ahead of a young artist. 

“I didn’t really know what to do with art or where to go with it until I came home,” she explains. “I noticed a lot of big, historic ranches that had been around for generations were selling out and disappearing overnight, and it broke my heart.”

“All of the sudden, I found my passion – preserving this way of life,” she states. “I do not want this culture to disappear.” 

Liberty continues, “For the most part, this culture – real agriculture, not just what people think of based on paintings from 100 years ago – is very quiet. We are not making headlines or sticking out. We would rather be left alone to do our thing.”

In fact, she notes most of the people she knows who ranch and farm want to live their lives in peace while simply taking care of their animals and trying to make a living for their families.

“They usually don’t want to speak out and advocate, which is causing problems because it puts people who are speaking the loudest in the forefront and pushing everyday people who ranch and farm to the rear,” she adds. “Therefore, a lot of times, people get the wrong idea about ranchers and farmers and what they are truly doing. They get painted in a bad light.” 

In an effort to provide a voice to agriculture and preserve today’s Western culture, Liberty began to paint – literally – ranchers and farmers in the positive light they deserve. 

Additionally, she places a focus on depicting actual women in agriculture, a group of people she feels has been seriously underrepresented.

“When I was looking through Western art magazines as a little girl, I noticed a lot of pictures of cowboys working but never very many women,” she states. “In fact, the only time I saw a cowgirl, she was lying in a bath tub in the middle of day.” 

“I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know who this lady is but I guarantee she has never worked in those boots – they are way too big. Why is her hat on backwards? It’s the middle of the day and she’s not getting her work done,’” Liberty laughs. “The whole thing just didn’t make sense.” 

Liberty notes she pointed this out to her dad and he responded, “If there are no paintings of the women you know – working women – you’re going to have to grow up and paint them then.” 

Which is exactly what Liberty has done. In fact, many of her paintings are referenced from candid photographs of women hard at work in her own family and neighboring ranches. 

“The women I knew were covered in blood, sweat and dirt and were always hard at work. I didn’t see them represented, so I started painting as many as I could,” she states. “Although there are more artists representing women in agriculture today, I am still trying to paint as many as I can because they don’t seem to be represented in the Western art world as much as they should be.”

The way of watercolor

Liberty is just as passionate about the medium she uses to make her art as she is about the subject matter of her paintings. 

“What I love about watercolor is there is no way to duplicate a painting – you can never make two paintings exactly the same way,” she explains. “With watercolor, there is always something serendipitous that happens.” 

She notes many people don’t like watercolor because it is one of the most difficult mediums to use – it cannot be erased or painted over. 

“It isn’t very forgiving, and it can be a really tough medium to use,” she says. “But, something unexpected and exciting always happens, and I like that.”

For the most part, Liberty is actually self-taught in watercolor painting. 

“I don’t have a lot of education in watercolor at all,” she states. “I took one beginning watercolor class in college just for fun, and I found out it’s what I loved the most.” 

She recalls the teacher of the class was a graduate student who was busy with his own work and didn’t give the class a lot of instruction.

“He gave us our paper, gave us our brushes and wished us luck,” she laughs. “He said, ‘Find something you think is interesting and paint it, because if it isn’t interesting to you, you won’t want to do the work.’”

Looking back, Liberty says this is possibly the best advice she has ever received, and to this day she continues painting the things that interest her the most. 

Accomplishments and current work 

Today, Liberty is an accomplished and award-winning artist, who has been featured in many of the magazines she found inspiration in as a little girl – Cowboy Magazine, Range Magazine, The Record Stockman, The Cornerstone, Small Farmers Journal and even in previous editions of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, just to name a few. 

She has received numerous awards and been deemed a professional Western watercolorist, a title she says that really snuck up on her. 

When it comes to the most rewarding aspect of making art, Liberty notes it comes down to preserving the Western culture and special memories for families who commission her to do custom paintings of their late family members or favorite animals. 

“The thing I am most proud of though, in general, is how blessed I am to have the family I do and to have been raised where I was and how I was,” she says. “I love being able to raise my kids this way – with a focus on faith, hard work and love, and reminding them these three things are everlasting.” 

Liberty’s work can be viewed and purchased on her website at or her Facebook page @LibertyProffitDayArt. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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