As some of you know, I work best with a purpose. Therefore, with the American Society of Bovine Artist's Second Ever Show coming up next month, and no new cows to show, I decided to get crankin'!
So I searched my old cow compositions from my 'longhorn' files, and this one was the first that caught my eye. I had put it together from 4 photos a while back.
But with a fresh look at it, I thought it needed some work.
Some repositioning of the calves, and a bit of strategic cropping, and I liked it much better!
Here is my underpainting of the pastel primer on Gatorboard (my favorite surface!) I use Art Spectrum Pastel Primer in terra cotta, with a bit of burnt umber mixed in, for my 'default' base color. For this image, I also used some sand and some white for the lightest areas of the calves. I thought this looked so cool I almost didn't want to paint on it!
Here are the first underlying colors. I like to work all around the painting and get the basic values in so I can see how each area affects the others as the painting progresses.
I decided at this point that the background was too dark, and contrasted too much with the line of white cow backs. I wiped off most of the tree line and put a sky (or water) line at a slight left diagonal to offset the strong right diagonal of the cow group. At the same time working on shadow tones, grasses, etc.
Now, I liked the dark grass at the top right, but felt it didn't have a reason, so I added a tree. I liked how that added an anchor at the top and turned the composition into something like a lower case 't'.
While working through the shadows on the white calves, I wanted to keep them from appearing too dark for reality, also my frame for this is a pale yellow-gold, so I've imagined this finished piece as being fairly high-key.
Here the shadows are coming along...
And decided to fatten the tree.
A close-up of the 'Leader.' Isn't he cute! (Looks like a troublemaker for sure!)
The background always gives me the most trouble...
I thought I was done at this point, until I saw it on-screen... (amazing how photographing a work can help with critique!) The tree was too dark for the distance, and I didn't like the yellow grass to the side of the right calf's face.
...And here it is! "Leader of the Pack"!
(...OK, I thought I was done with this, until I saw it on-screen... lol!)
I might do away with the tree after all, and the yellow grass in the upper left... But it's too late tonight to deal with it. I'll leave it a few days and take another look.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed the process!
(Ignore the slight color changes between photos. Most were taken at various times of the day.)