Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cow Portrait

The cow came to the farm along with her bull calf a few weeks ago. She was restless when I painted her portrait, swinging her big head back and forth. I tried to pick two angles that she kept returning to.

It was feeding time. She was hungry. Bits of hay and drool dropped onto my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

Every once in a while, when she heard Lenny’s voice outside, she let out a powerful moo that resonated through the whole barn. I could see into the ridged, tan tunnel of her mouth, and feel the hot, moist blast of breath.

18 comments:

sean said...

I love what you do. I just recently went up into the canyon near our home with my daughter's class and three other grade school classes. I taught them one class at a time how to draw using pencil shading values, to give thier work a three dimensionality. I referanced your website and told them a little bit about you. If you ever come out to yellowstone park, I hope to meet you. Anyhow, thanks again for all you do.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Sean. Those students are lucky to have you teaching. I love sketching in Yellowstone, and was there a couple of years ago with artists from the American Society of Architectural Illustrators.

Erik Bongers said...

Great sketches! Love the light on those heads.
But did you draw them so close to the subject? They seem to have been drawn from a greater distance.

James Gurney said...

Good eye, Erik! Yes, I moved a bit closer to the cow because there was a horse in the stall behind me that kept reaching out and nuzzling the back of my neck.

ivo.de.wispelaere said...

Wonderful again! The paintings evoke a dimensionality that you wouldn't get by taking a picture.

Boldheadstudio said...

your little watercolour paintings are most astounding and beautiful.

Philippe Gaulier said...

Great sketches! It is always refreshing to visit your blog.

Steve said...

I love the eyelashes and "whiskers" on these portraits. Just a careful job of saving the white of the paper?

彥安彥安 said...

Quietude is the crown of life.......................................................

Rebecca said...

Do you have a favorite watercolor brand that you use? I think that I might like your watercolors even better than your oil paintings. (if that's possible) They're so nice and loose.

Tyler J said...

Fantastic, as usual. I am wondering, like Steve, how you pulled off the hair and lashes so convincingly? There is just enough white information there to suggest the light hair, but from a technical standpoint how did you approach it, particularly the profile on the left?

Thanks for sharing!

a. fortis said...

Really impressive! Animals are not always cooperative models.

展姍展姍 said...

Lets cross the bridge when we come to it..................................................

Amy Lilley Designs said...

WONDERFUL painting of the cow...totally jealous that you got so close enough to feel her breath...one of my photos, 'Gal', is a real star in my world...she lives on a dairy farm here in RI:
http://www.etsy.com/listing/41407866/dairy-cow-5x7

Any trips planned to the RISD Museum in Providence?????

James Gurney said...

You are all so kind--thank you.
Steve and Tyler, the lashes are the white of the paper, and I quickly split the hairs of the brush as I came around that part of the silhouette with the dark paint.

Rebecca: The paint kit is the smallest Schmincke pan set (about 12 colors). I'm glad you like the looseness, which is inevitable when working fast.

A. fortis: you're right, they don't cooperate. Recently in the barn when I was painting a horse, I got a handful of their favorite grain to get her attention, but the grain got the attention of every critter in the barn, and ended up being disruptive.

Jane said...

Interesting that you're using pan set -- how are you getting a wash? If you can describe that in words ... I can't seem to make pans do even washes, can only get that from tubes squeezed out into dishes and turned into tiny lakes. And yes, I had the same question about white that others did, and am amazed that you got it by splitting the brush -- was positive such delicate lines came from white paint!

dave terry said...

That is awesome dude. What a fantastic job. Like Wow! When I grow up I want to be able to paint just like you. (I'm 51, think there's a chance?)
...dave

Rebecca said...

My favorite thing to do and to look at is gestural work. Whether it's drawings or paintings. I love looking at the quick concept and compositional sketches that the old italian masters used to do. They are often more amazing than the finished painting in my eyes. I think that the true way to tell a master is how quickly they are able to capture the essence of something.