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Tag Archives: cow




The above painting came from using rice papers on the positive shapes in a painting, to add texture.


I began with a painting and blocked in all the forms I wanted to include, Much like how I began the painting in the previous post.


I covered the bull in torn strips of textured rice paper, working from bottom to top so the pieces would overlap like the hair on the bull would.


I painted the coat following the values I saw in the reference photo. Thank you to Wet Canvas for the reference.


To finish the bull, I glued more torn strips of rice papers on the head and painted them. I painted the light washes on the horns. I glued rice papers on the clumps of foliage behind and to one side of the bull for balance.

westhighlandbull finished painting

I finished the painting by painting the rice paper foliage and  using india ink in the hair fibers and shadows on the bull.

This is a fairly long process because the artist works in steps and gives ample time for each step to dry in between.  I liked this and will use it in future paintings where I want to increase texture.

I promised Alonso, if I finished this, I would post it. The above painting was drawn a couple nights ago on Arches 140lb Hot Pressed paper.  Why hot pressed for such a textured scene? Oh, you know; just to see if I could do it. I found another splotch of time to paint the cow on the far right and some of the one next to him, but then off to other things that must be done.  I was able to get classes taught and student artwork posted and had a FREE NIGHT last night! I decided to paint this scene. I was about an hour in and the electric went out. 50 MPH winds we were having. Angered by this change of events, I lit two candles and held a flashlight and painted away in the dark.  I know. I know. I know. Artists are not to paint in the dark. I think if I waited for everything to be perfect in my life I’d never create anything. So, this is my candlelight painting. Cows, no less.

As I painted, my anger began to subside and my thoughts wandered to people who had suffered much more and I was humbled. Many lost their homes in these storms that tracked across the midwest the last two days. Some lost their loved ones. My condolences to all of you.

I have painted this West Highland before, here. This painting was painted on toned masa paper. Due to the toned surface, I used white gouache for the whites on the nose and horns. The whiskers were painted in with the use of a rigger brush and white acrylic.

More on West Highland Cattle, here.

I set out designing a cow and calf picture of those fun hairy West Highland cows. I had to design the mother from other photos on wet canvas.  I also had decided that I wanted to paint this as a value study and experiment with lost edges.  I couldn’t stand this, so, unwilling to give up, I tried something I’d read about and that was to wash it under the faucet and see what I came up with.

This is what resulted from the wash down.I did not scrub into this but rinsed it 3 minutes, TOPS, under the faucet. I then stood at the sink and fed a little burnt sienna and diox violet into lower right and left corners. I liked the less flat and drab look of this better than before I had washed it. I also liked the granular or textured look that appeared from the wash. After letting it dry overnight, I painted back into the composition trying to bring a little life back to the shapes and enhance the tones.

This is what I am going to be satisfied with. I learned that I really have to push the values if the intent is a value study and that using just earthtones aren’t going to be enough for what I like to do. I also learned a little something about lost edges and where they may work and where they are not needed. It was important to me for this painting to work on some level.  I am more satisfied with the texture and value in the third image than the first. I can also say I was glad to have the opportunity to wash down a painting. This poor piece of Arches 140lb coldpress paper took a beating and came through it with no tears or holes. The whiskers were scratched in with a scratch tool and then went through the beating with the rest of the paper.

I have always wanted to spend some time painting cows. Don’t know why. Perhaps it is that I am happiest when painting animals. This lovely lady lives to the east of me. Every so often I drive out in the country east of here hoping to snap a picture of the Amish and the teams of horses. They are always too far off for my camera capabilities. This Holstein, however, was very near the fence and didn’t budge when I got out of the car. Such luck!

I have been experimenting with a limited palette I saw in an article, recently, and like it very much. The colors are Winsor & Newton tube paints: transparent yellow, permanent rose, Winsor blue(green shade), Prussian blue, Winsor green(blue shade), Winsor violet and burnt sienna.  I am always looking for combinations of limited palettes so my students don’t need to purchase so many colors to get started. This list seems to work pretty well. 🙂

Painting this cow was fun. At first I looked at it as a daunting challenge, but it wasn’t.  I used round brushes throughout and worked light to dark. I waited for the figure of the cow to dry and wet the background being careful to carve around the hair and shape of the cow.  I then dropped in light washes of the blue and yellows I’d used on the cow.