I spent a part of a morning in July of 2014 watching two Gobi argali rams, including this one, in a rocky valley at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, which is located in the desert/steppe transition zone of central Mongolia. Since they’re not hunted in the reserve sometimes one can end up fairly close without disturbing them. Also, there’s a research camp at the head of the valley so the sheep are somewhat habituated to the presence of humans. The rams were browsing on elm tree leaves, the sign of a dry year with poor grass. One was older, a greyish-white, and the other, the subject of my painting, was younger and grayish brown. After a bit he went up into the rocks on the side of the valley and stood, watching me and waiting for the other ram. That’s when I shot the reference photo I used. Over the last few years I’ve started sometimes using traditional Mongolian motifs as the backgrounds of my paintings for a more personal and contemporary approach. Argali (Ovis Ammon) are the world’s largest mountain sheep. A big Mongolian ram can weigh over 350 lbs. The IUCN lists them as “Near Threatened”.