Bear Woman on a Sunday Afternoon

Artist: Merlin Little Thunder

Cheyenne artist Merlin Little Thunder has long been fascinated by miniature art – as a child he would flip through the dictionary and try to copy the illustrations that accompanied the definitions. He continued painting and drawing through high school, but his father encouraged a career with a more stable income. He studied pre-med, first at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and then at Bacone College, but art continued to be a major part of his life. Spending money came from selling paintings and making posters for student groups. Eventually he moved to Eastern Oklahoma State College, majoring in art. He has been painting full time since 1981.

Little Thunder takes six to eighteen months to complete one of his miniature paintings, so he works on several at once. He creates the meticulous scenes by working in layers, adding more detail with each layer. He uses tiny, sable-hair brushes for intricate features.

He has had shows in the Governor’s Gallery at the Oklahoma State Capitol and at the Wickenburg Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. His paintings are included in the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. His works have also appeared on book covers from the University of Nebraska Press.

Source: Artist’s Dream Comes to Life, Tulsa World, January 21, 1995; “Attention to Details Distinguishes Artist,” The Oklahoma, April 22, 2007; Oral History Interview, Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State University, recorded October 7, 2010; Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition grant profile, February 23, 2011.