Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hold Still, Holsteins

Dairy cows don’t pose. You might think they hold still when you see them placidly grazing in a field, but the minute you set up to sketch them, they start moving around like chipmunks.


If you want to paint them from life, the key is to organize the palette. For these Holsteins, I pre-mixed a dark gray and a black for their dark spots, and a couple of light tones for their white areas. I kept a separate brush for each tone.

I quickly drew their shapes with a brush on the 8 x 10 inch panel, which was oil primed with a tint of burnt sienna. Then I dove in with the tones.

15 comments:

Carol H. said...

Beautiful painting! I know what you mean with them moving around the minute you start, oftentimes I can only get a head or leg drawn before the animal thunders away.

Laurie K. said...

Ha, this is great! I especially loved the comment about them moving like chipmunks! lol

Super Villain said...

these are really beautiful james!!

Jonas Heirwegh said...

These look awesome. How much time did you spend on each?

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everybody. Jonas, I think there's about 15 minutes in each of them. Sometimes I start one and come back to it if another cow moves into that position.

Art and Illustration said...

only the master makes it look easy, and you certainly do, sir

René PleinAir. said...

Those ladies look gorgeous.

Thanks for the clear explanation on how to paint these girls.

Cheryl said...

Amazing! Maybe I will try that next time I do some plein air painting.

Mary Bullock said...

A county fair is a good place to sketch animals - they are in pens and don't move much.

Kendra Melton said...

Gorgeous!!! awesome stuff!

Johan said...

Wow. Makes me want to get into paint sketching. : )

And damn, only 15 min each.

goat89 said...

Awesome tips on painting cows sir. At least they stay in the general area... sheep flee ><

A.Decker said...

Nice cows! Good job.

Claire said...

Thanks for the tips!

DavidStill said...

Very nice cows! I agree with Art and Illustration, it looks so easy! It's a shame I live in Finland, I'd love to be able to go to your demonstrations and lectures and ask you loads of questions..