I decided to paint a brightly colored one-of-a-kind horned cow. I prefer to use my own reference material, so everything that I have painted or drawn that was not a custom piece has come from a photograph that one of my family members has taken. My sisters and parents are all very talented with a camera. The Girls of Circle C series came from right across the fence. Our neighbor’s have a base herd of Corriente and Longhorn cows that they are breeding to various beef bulls and selling the steers. They have found that these cows are really easy doing and make great mothers. After getting permission to photograph the cattle we set out down the dirt roads that wind around their ranch. I was driving the get-away car while my mother and sister were hanging out the windows with their cameras snapping pictures right and left! It’s so fun to spend the afternoon admiring cattle and getting pictures. I love color and the different colored cattle and the various shapes of their horns intrigues me. Since I started painting cattle it has made me look at them in a whole new light. I have grown up seeing cattle and judging which ones were the best phenotypically, which ones were gaining weight and which ones were not and so forth, but I had never focused on the shapes of their faces. I hadn’t noticed in some breeds their lips droop past their chins, while others have tight, shallow lips. I have also noticed that within a breed the way that the ears are set varies exceedingly and I love it. I love the differences in the set of the horns, the expressions of their eyes and I especially love the Brahman’s floppy ears! After taking pictures and finding a photo that seemed to portray an ideal Longhorn, I began to paint.
I knew I wanted a colorful cow with a chevron background. I thought it would be easy just to slap a bunch of colors on the canvas and voila’ it would take shape and be done. So I began with the background. Then I blocked the cow out, starting with all of the darkest darks. Next, I began putting color here and there and what I got I thought looked like a clown! I wasn’t happy with that, so I decided to make it more realistic colored. I added two layers of cream color on the cow, but in the back of my mind I still wanted to use a lot of colors and make something really unique. I looked at some other colorful art that I liked and I noticed that even though they used many colors there was a unifying color that was repeated several times that tied the other colors together. So with my new plan I began adding colors again. I go through stages where I have a new favorite color for a week, then it changes and I might have a different favorite the next week. When I painted this one I was really into turquoise and corals and I used those colors repeatedly. I was much happier with the outcome this time around. That is what I love about painting. I like the freedom that it gives you to try new things. If you don’t like it you can just cover it up and do something different. In most of the painting that I do, I am just as surprised to see how it turns out as everyone else. I wish everyone could experience the freedom and flexibility that painting offers!