Painted Skulls, the artwork of Jana Waller 5

Sep 27, 2010 by Rob Endsley

On my office wall is a European skull mount of a beautiful whitetail that I harvested in Eastern Washington eleven years ago. While my knuckle-dragging friends and I think it's quite attractive, the rest of the folks that spy the antlered skull perched on the wall either give me an "ewww" or they curl a lip and walk away in silence. No telling what they're thinking.

So when I came across Jana Waller's art work on the inter-webs a year ago I was vacuumed into the world of…Painted Skulls. Maybe, just maybe, I could turn that whitetail skull into a piece of art and get these folks to take a second loooong look at the whitetail. Check out the skulls below and you'll see what I mean.

Here's the Cliff Notes version of Jana's life in the field and her unique artwork:

How long have you been hunting?

When my father decided I was tall enough and strong enough to hike the hayfields of Wisconsin without complaining, I had my first introduction to hunting. Years later I remember missing my first 6th grade dance because I was on the road to South Dakota for a week of chasing ringnecks. Some of my fondest teenage memories include goose blinds and pheasant fields, but it wasn’t until I was a senior in college that I picked up my first bow.

In the past 18 years of archery hunting, I’ve been blessed with eight beautiful whitetails, two of them making the record book. This year alone I’ve traveled to Africa, Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and back to my home state of Wisconsin with my bow in tow.

What's the most exciting hunt you've been on?

By far the most exciting hunt I’ve been on was my spot and stalk Alberta mule deer hunt just a couple of weeks ago. After countless hours of busted stalks and belly crawling through muddy barley fields, I arrowed a nice mule deer in the last few hours of the hunt.  My next challenge or dream hunt includes my new handmade recurve bow that should arrive on my doorstep next week. I’m so excited about trying the traditional, primitive style of archery that the target is irrelevant. 

 Jana's 2010 Alberta Mule Deer

How did you get into painting skulls for a living?

Along with a passion for hunting, I’ve always had an interest in art and in 2008 I merged the two. After returning home from a trip to Santa Fe, my Dad showed me a photo of a painted ram skull that he saw in a shop. 

I began painting skulls that I had found over the years of shed hunting and after numerous requests from friends to paint one for them I launched my website 

To add a Southwest flair, I started beading skulls with turquoise, tiger eye, jade and other semi-precious stones. Another popular design is the pheasant feathered skull and I recently beaded a beautiful 11 point whitetail in swarovski crystals. Custom design is an option for my customers own personal skulls as well as purchasing the skulls through me.


How much does it cost?

An average painted or feathered skull costs $295 to $495 and the beaded varieties cost between $395 and $750.

What other projects are you working on?

I’m also currently working on a tv pilot about my skull business and my lifestyle of hunting for a major network. If all goes well, we’ll start shooting the series in the beginning of next year which will focus on my skulls business, but also my passion for preserving our hunting heritage. 

I believe the average non-hunter does'nt comprehend that hunters are more connected to the environment, spend more dollars towards habitat preservation and herd management, and have a better understanding of conservation. It’s my hope to bring that point of view to the masses. I also Prostaff with numerous hunting companies and feel so blessed to be a part of an amazing industry.

If you haven't clicked on the link to her website yet, please do. Jana's artwork is available at Roughing It In Style rustic furniture in Madison, Wisconsin and will become available at other midwest retailers soon. 


Thomas Gilman on May 25, 2014 at 7:48 pm said:

The painted and beaded skulls are the coolest thing I've ever seen. What type of glue do you use for the beads since the skulls are so porous. I have a moose skull I would like to bead, ome I harvested in British Columbia and I thought I would give it a shot at beading. By the way your tv show is great. Thanks

Barnett Commando Crossbow on Oct 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm said:

those were nice paint with the deer skull. i think you did a good shot during hunting.

Tobeck on Sep 27, 2010 at 10:17 am said:

Can she paint a tuna skull?

Robbo on Sep 27, 2010 at 7:44 am said:

Your hairless skull would like a lot purtier if she painted it

Tom Nelson on Sep 27, 2010 at 3:30 am said:

I wish to comment on the painted skulls: Cool!


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