251c3250Gaylene Fortner grew up as an only child on a ranch in southeastern Montana raising 4-H animals, surrounded by wildlife and scenic beauty. Gaylene loved to read horse books in her spare time, and later trained her 4-H horse. She attended a country school where her teacher brought ink pens and paper for her to draw, and she naturally drew what she loved — horses and animals. After graduating from high school, the local county library invited Gaylene to display her artwork and as a result sold her first painting.

After attending the National College of Business and graduating with a business degree, she married and started a family. Gaylene was still drawn to painting so she refined her artistic skills by reading books, experimenting, and taking occasional workshops in oils and watercolor. Her most influential training came from an oil painting workshop she took from Tom Browning in Eugene, Oregon; and, the study of color and portraits she did with Jan Kunz, a transparent watercolor artist in Portland. Constantly a student, Gaylene studies the work of other artists and enjoys doing joint studies as well.

Gaylene is also an avid photographer, teaching her hobby in 4H and frequently judging at fairs. Her photography often inspires paintings, either while she’s shooting a subject, or looking through photos later. Her photography often allows her to experiment and conceptualize a composition before beginning a painting.

As her first love, horses continue to have a prominent place in her work. However, Gaylene also likes to paint still lifes, antiques, florals, wildlife, birds, and country life. These themes flow from other loves in her life such as collecting antiques with her father and growing flowers in her garden.Gaylene draws from the depth of her experience to portray the striking elements she sees. “There are usually one or two things that stand out to me in every scene.” Gaylene likes to use shadows to highlight her subject, or other horses to contrast those with a special personality. Painting is an adventure for Gaylene, “I like to paint what is in the shadows that some people would overlook.” She explores new methods in her paintings in order to reveal the uniqueness of each subject. Gaylene paints in oils and transparent watercolors from small to large formats. She especially enjoys painting miniatures which some are so small, a magnifying glass is needed to appreciate the details.

Gaylene’s work has been shown throughout the United States in exhibitions and even miniature shows in London, England. Several of her paintings received awards after being accepted in juried national and international shows. She has been invited to several invitational shows and participated in many quick draws. She has also taught workshops in transparent watercolor to other artists.

Gaylene cherishes the quiet country life with her husband near Broadus, Montana. Her three children are all grown. She enjoys camping with her family, playing cards with friends and family and tending the flowers in her garden which make frequent appearances in her paintings.


  • Montana Watercolor Society-Signature-1994
  • Women Artists of the West-Signature
  • Northern Plains Watercolor Society-Signature
  • Florida Miniature Society-Member

Accomplishments and Awards:

  • 2019 Art & Soul, People’s Choice 1st, Broadus MT
  • 2019 WAM Waterworks Gallery, Miles City, MT
  • 2019 Masterworks in Miniature, Galley One, Mentor, OH
  • 2019 “Hold Your Horses” The Phippen Museum, Prescott, AZ
  • 2018 from 2005 CM Russell Stampede Quick Draw, Stanford, MT
  • 2018 “Hold Your Horses”  The Phippen Museum, Prescott, AZ
  • 2017 AWARD 3rd  Waterworks Art Museum  Miniature Show
  • 2014 BEST OF SHOW St. Peter’s Hospital Foundation
  • 2013 Honorable Mention Northern Plains Watercolor Society
  • 2012 “Wet & Wild” won a Bronze Medal Award in the Northern Plains
    Watercolor Show in Rapid City – Journey Museum
  • 2nd Runner Up Montana Watercolor Society Member Juried Exhibit
  • 2011 PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD (2nd) Custer County Art Auction, Juried into the Montana Watercolor 2011 Show
  • 2010 PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD (1st) Custer Counry Art Center, Miles City, MT 2010 -Auction Sept 2010
  • 2008 Award in Miniature Art Society of Florida Show and Invitation to MASF Award Winners Show, Naples, FL – Weatherburn Gallery
  • Featured Article Horses in Art Magazine Spring Issue 2007
  • 2007 Award in Miniature Art Society of Florida Juried Show
  • 2005-06 CM Russell Stampede Quick Draw, Stanford, MT
  • 2005-06 Miles City Bucking Horse Sale Quick Draw
  • 2005 Honorable Mention Spirit Show Cheyenne Frontier Days Museum
  • 2005 Horses in Art Magazine, Featured in Article
  • 2005 Featured in A Collection of Works by Northwest Artists book
  • 2003 Featured Artists Wildlife Magazine Sept/Oct
  • 2002 Lake Oswego Festival of Arts-Oregon 1st Transparent Watercolor
  • 2002 Cider Painter’s Miniature Show – 1st Floral
  • 2002 Featured Artist Inform Art Magazine
  • 2002 Featured Art on Cover of Range Telephone Booklet
  • 2001 American Academy of Equine Art-Kimbel E. Oelke Memorial Award
  • 2001 Miniature Art Society of Florida (Juried)-Awarded 3rd in Oils
  • 2000 Cider Painter’s of America Miniature Show (Juried) Realistic Award
  • 1999 Northern Plains Juried Watercolor Show, SD-Purchase Award
  • 1999 Custer County Art Center, Little Picture Show (Juried)-Honorable Mention
  • 1997 Best of Show Gateway to the Rockies Miniature Show
  • 1996 Best of Show St Peter’s Foundation’s 6th Gala at the State Capitol

Representing Galleries:

  • Wyoming Art & Frame Gallery, Gillette, WY
  • Custer County Art Center, Miles City, MT