Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mildly curious British bossy

I was flipping through a National Geographic, looking for pictures for a collage, when I happened across this photo.  I loved it so much, I just knew I had to paint it.
"With mild curiousity, three bossies look up from their grassy breakfast.  Their pasture lies behind a lush hedge bank in Cornwall bedecked with tiny red valerian, purplish ragged robin, and cream-colored sprays of wild chervil, locally known as cow parsley."
This photo was taken by Sam Abell as part of a story called "Britain's Hedgerows" in the September 1993 National Geographic.
I tore the picture out and promised myself I would paint it later.  I finally pulled it out again on one of those snow days.
I had a hard time copying the shape of the cow's head, so I projected my reference onto an 11x14" canvas I had painted red.  Somehow I'd forgotten that I'm afraid of the dark... I really don't love working with super dark values.  I was kind of in trouble.  Eventually, with the deadline looming, I sucked it up and painted myself a cow.
I knew I wasn't going to be able to copy the hedge in extreme detail, so I just kind of fudged it.  I tried to add some of the same textures and values without painstakingly copying every leaf, every blade of grass...  I think I have come a long way since I started painting ;)
Sorry for no in progress pictures...
Here she is... a mildly curious british bossy;)
The colors are a bit off, and you can't really see the values in the face, but you get the idea...

Artist behaviors:
1.  Artists Develop Art Making Skills - I probably wouldn't ever tell you that painting with really dark colors is one of my skills.  However, through this piece, I got a teeny bit better at that.  I kind of figured out how to paint using "pretty dark" and "really dark" instead of "light" and "medium" and "almost darkish."  I also got to work on using textures besides "fluffy" and "feathery," especially with the hedge.
2.  Artists Take Risks - I didn't quite realize it at the time, but it was a big risk for me to pick a little picture of a dark cow to make a big ole painting out of.  Once I realized how painful much work it would be, I decided not to give up because I really loved this cow.  I'm not comfortable working with black and almost black.  I still don't like using black paint to mix colors.  I got past that a little bit with this piece because I just dove into it without thinking about the "risks."
3.  Artists Solve Problems - I realized shortly after starting that I had a big problem... I tried and tried but I could not get the shape of the cow's head, especially her ears, onto the canvas.  I decided to project the image onto the wall, prop up my canvas and trace the cow onto it.  Then, I was having issues with the transparency of my paint.  I couldn't get the green of the hedge to look right where it overlapped the blue of the sky I had already painted or the black of the cow that had to be there for the shape of the grasses to look right.  With a whole lot of paint and a lot of random other colors mixed in, I finally got the green to cover what it needed to.

You can expect some more cows in the future :)

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