Golden Boys is the first in a series of work inspired by a particular young mother and the activities she shares with her two little boys in a rural ranching and farming environment.

Scenes such as the one depicted in this painting, and others to follow, were essentially the norm for Alberta at one time; however, as the province has become more modernized and urban, the family as a unit living and working together, sharing in all aspects of the family enterprise, has become increasingly rare.

I am impressed with the capabilities of my female subject. As a partner in the family business, she is skilled in the care, handling and feeding of animals, and adept at such activities as barbed wire fencing, riding and operating equipment. Yet, at the same time, she is ultimately a mother and nurturer of her children -- children whom I believe are in some ways blessed with an advantage over their urban counterparts. They have the opportunity to share daily in productive activity with their parents, eventually becoming real contributors to the family operation. Such formative years, resulting in a sense of competence, purpose and belonging will benefit them through their entire adult lives regardless of the path or profession they may ultimately choose for themselves.

Golden Boys depicts the children exploring their world and learning through participation as they help with the chores, in this case tending the chickens, likely having just finished collecting eggs and providing feed.

By design, I have set the mother in the background. As is often the case in life, she is behind the scene, watching and at the ready if needed. The focus of each subject, including that of the chickens, is on the younger boy's activity. My purpose was, in part, to guide the viewer to an initial point of interest before leading the eye into the background, perhaps to interpret the facial expressions of the mother and brother, and to explore the composition of the building. I have made this structure old and weathered to create a link to the past and to suggest the idea of generational family farm succession.

Patrick Cox, Hugh Smith