On the Trail with the Two-Bit Cowboy

By Craig Couillard


Drifting Into Sculptures 

Have you ever picked up a piece of driftwood along a water’s edge and thought, “That looks like dog … or a boomerang … or a heart?”  Maybe you even carried it home and added it to your flowerbed. 

In 2017, pen and ink artist Tina Milisavljevisch of Big Fork, Montana, stumbled across a large piece of driftwood on a lake beach and saw the head of a horse.  That 20” piece of wood would form the basis of what eventually became a large driftwood horse sculpture.  The piece immediately sold, and Tina decided to pursue driftwood sculpturing full-time. 

Tina (left) with her daughter Milana

I have a few favourite places where I go to collect driftwood”, says Tina. “But they are a closely guarded secret,” she smiles.   Her and her husband often to do horse pack trips and she invariably is bringing home more raw material.   She finds lake beach driftwood the best material as the continue lapping of the waves polishes the wood.

Every sculpture starts with a single piece of wood that serves as the inspiration for my work. From there I keep going back looking for specific sizes and shapes of driftwood to complete my piece.” 

She’s also inspired by old car parts that she incorporates into her sculptures. “Vintage car hoods, fenders, and chrome are re-purposed to accessorize my art.  They add texture, depth and color as well as helping to strengthen my sculptures”.   

Tina Milisavljevisch of Big Fork, Montana

Her life size buffalo was prominently featured in the lobby entrance of the Great Western Art Show in Great Falls, Montana this weekend.  Says Tina, “It generally takes me 2-3 months to build a life size sculpture.  Moose seem to be popular right now.”

So, the next time you stumble across a piece of wood that looks like a bird, you might think twice before pitching it into your campfire.