This painting is now in reproduction with prints available in my Zazzle shop. See bottom of post for details.
Because painting these Two Cows was pretty emotional, I didn’t plan on writing a tutorial. But for some reason I took a number of photos of the different stages. Habit, I guess. So I thought some of you might like seeing those stages. One of these days I’ll do a serious tutorial for painting animals.
Like anything I paint, I always start with a photo reference.
This beautiful picture was photographed by Ree, The Pioneer Woman. It’s so gorgeous, it almost looks posed, doesn’t it?
While I loved the composition of it, I wanted to focus on the cows faces so I had to take a little artistic license and do some repositioning.
I cropped each cow and quickly grouped them together. In hindsight I wish I’d take more time to Photoshop it properly so the placement was better but, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the painting would turn out since I’d never painted cows.
One of the issues with using photographs as reference is sometimes you can’t see the details as clearly as you’d like or need. So you google more images.
And then you see what a cow’s eye looks like close up.
Look at those lashes.
And google some more. And then you find out that cows have “snouts”, not muzzles.
Sooner or later you start sketching. I spend a lot more time sketching now than I did when I first started painting. But I could devote even more time. I get a little anxious for the colors. Even if I’m unsure exactly how I’m going to paint something.
Which color blends with what color to make another color? It’s always a puzzle, every single time. But that’s what I love about painting.
After the first layer or two of color, more sketching. I supposed I could spend a day or two and do a really good sketch and then just transfer the overlays each time.
But that seems a little too much like work to me.
Doing it this way, it’s a path of discovery. I never know what color will work, which shade will define, what highlight will bring the painting to life.
So um, yeah, it’s a little scary to throw some dark raw umber on there.
But the depth of color is what gives the painting the definition it needs.
Even on the muzzle.
It’s not all about shading though. Shading only works if there are highlights too.
The tricky part with animals is the shading and highlights are in places you might not expect.
But that’s what makes each animal unique and special and so much fun to paint.
And sometimes other people like it too and are willing to donate $5 so they can have the painting in their home.
Thank you to everyone who’s donated to the Two Cows for Oklahoma raffle. I’m just overwhelmed with the generosity! And thank those of you who are sharing it too!
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This painting is now available for purchase in prints, with other gift items coming soon so check my Zazzle shop often!
18 x 24 canvas – $173.95
16 x 20 print – $29.90
11 x 14 print – $20.45
8 x 10 canvas – $85.20
8 x 10 print – $16.70
You did a superb job on these cows, Colleen. They are almost like a photo in their realism. Congratulations. They are beautiful.