Monday, June 17, 2013


I wanted to post a demo on a cow painting I just finished.  Never have documented a paintings progress before - so this was kind of fun.  If there is any interest I will do more in the future. 

This 18x24" is bigger than I usually paint, but have been working larger lately and really enjoying it - it's a nice break from smaller work. This beauty from a herd north of us near Langlois, OR.

I usually start with a form, such as nose or ear or top notch, and pretty much finish it before moving onto the next form.  This is to take advantage of the wet acrylic as regards to blending.

When I first started horns/antlers were a fun challenge, and actually, they still are.  :-)

So I'm sticking with just the darks on her face here, blending in alizarin  and green darks along with blue highlights.  The topnotch is handled all at one time, as are all individual forms.  The dark lines over the eyes are put in extra thick so it they be plenty wet to blend with the white that's a comin'.

Starting to lay in the lights on her face, keeping the strokes pretty much angular and sharp.  This part is extra fun for me as she starts to come alive!

The foundation of the face is basically done and I dealt with most of the edges.  My wife and mentor, (JM Steele aka Jeanne) taught me what her mentor taught her: "Edges are the Magic Bullet".  Some edges are hard and sharp, some are soft ('Lost and Found').  This is pretty much intuition here, stepping back and squinting, seeing what area is boring and needs tending.

In my studies I learned that the Old Masters stressed that 'black' is anything but!  If the 'blacks' are not made interesting with various other dark values - blues, greens, reds - the eye will immediately get bored with it.  Make the blacks interesting!  In fact, every part of the painting must draw interest from the viewers subconscious.  You want the eye to linger here, there, everywhere.  Same with the lights and white.  Don't allow people to glance at your painting and say in their mind, 'Oh, that's just a cow...what's next?' Draw them in with exciting brushwork and interesting color and value changes!  And of course....composition's kind of important too - lol.

Okay, so I'm getting darn close to done here.  I have tried to make the edges on her body and each form varied and interesting.  Oh....and her eyes!  All of a sudden with light in her eyes she's looking right back at me and I'm really liking her - "She's alive!  She's alive!"  :-)

The background is done and after some drying time, white impasto paint is added with brush and knife on the white of her face and in her topnotch.  I don't have her name yet, any suggestions?  Often the name does not come until I start varnishing.  I really, really like this beautiful girl! 

Please contact me if interested in this painting.  Many thanks.


  1. Thank you! She's lovely :)
    Love your bold colour and sense of humour.
    And in case you were wondering... the difference betweeen horns and antlers are that horns are hollow, with a keratin exterior covering a dense hair-based interior, and they are not shed every year (cows, sheep, goats, antelope). Antlers are solid bone (covered with skin until they are fully grown - in a year) and they are shed every year (deer, moose, elk).

    Thanks again for your lovely demo - looking forward to seeing more of your work!


  2. Thanks for clarifying that, Keena. It was my bad as I was trying to say that when I first started painting, that horns and antlers were a challenge to paint....but I got lazy and shortened it up to gibberish. I need to go back there and do a bit of editing. :-) Thanks again....