Nestled amoung the majestic oaks and rolling hills of northern San Luis Obispo county, in a setting that seems to come right from one of his own truly authentic and beautiful paintings, Ernie Morris’ ranch, home and studio are tucked into this pastoral scene and provide the perfect environment for him to create his exquisite vaquero art.
A fifth generation California cattleman, Ernie was born December 13, 1927 in Kern County. His youth was molded by ranch life where he worked with older men who followed the California vaquero horsemanship style. Ernie especially credits his grandfather, Jesse Wilkinson, with teaching him many of the vaquero ways, and the techniques for making quality rawhide equipment.
Ernie's art talents began to show at an early age, with special interests in the California vaquero. Vaquero art was a hobby for Ernie until 1964 when, with urging from his wife Blanche, he became a full-time artist as an occupation. In 1967 Ernie began placing a small hackamore beside his name on his paintings as a symbol to connect his art and his rawhide work.
He has created artwork with pen and ink, pencil, charcoal, watercolor, oils, acrylic, bronze sculpting, and wood carving, and he has authored and illustrated four popular books about vaquero horsemanship and livestock handling which we offer here: El Vaquero, El Buckaroo (reprinted in 2012), and Riata Men and California Cowboy Inventions. His books feature countless sketches and paintings, as well as numerous photos of prominent cattleman and buckaroos, combined with interesting anecdotes.
Although Ernie's art encompasses most of his time, he is active in the cattle business, training his own ranch horses, braiding rawhide gear, and occasionally making horse-hair mecates. Amoung his many honors and accomplishments, in 2002 Ernie was selected as the Honorary Vaquero for the Old Spanish Days La Fiesta celebration in Santa Barbara. Again in 2012, Ernie received special "Vaquero Recognition" at the Vaquero Heritage Days in San Juan Bautista.
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