I thought it might be interesting to follow me as I work on my next watercolor painting. This is a behind the scenes look at the creative process- for me, anyway.
First I take a ton of photographs of a subject, honestly, usually over 1,000 images. Yes, I have a “continuous shot” option on my camera and I use it. Animals can make a movement quickly and give no warning. So, if you have to try and anticipate what they are going to do and if it will be a good shot – it’s hopeless. So, after I take 1000+ shots, then I download them on my computer, and quickly scan through them to decide which might have potential. I go through several “culling” processes until I end up with 8-10 photos that I think have potential. Then, I enlarge, crop, adjust the brightness ( to see more of the animals color), darken the shadows, etc all on my computer. Then, once I have a picture that I think would make a good painting, I usually print a black and white image of it. I like to print black and white – it kinda frees my mind to explore colors and not be restricted to trying to match what is actually on the animal. Then, I decide how big of a painting I want to make.
I try to make all my art so that it will fit in pre-made frames – kinda standard sizes, to keep the costs down. Once I have decided on the size, then I draw the image onto my paper. This one that I am working on is two black Angus calves. I took the photographs at Linda Treibs, Fredericksburg. They had gathered up the cattle into a pen and so I was able to get some group shots.
Now, the fun begins…Stay tuned for further developments
I was driving down Friendship Rd. in Fredericksburg, and a herd of Brahman Hereford cross steers had just been released into the pasture neighboring the street. There were two that really captured my attention, this first one posed for me and was very inquisitive. I have just finished work on the second with the bright reds and spots. Love the big floppy ears and the white “Brisket”. Working on the shadowing of the white face and brisket was a challenge. I will soon have this both listed on http://www.etsy.com for purchase as prints
When I majored in Animal Science and received my BS and my MS degrees – I gravitated more toward the statistical analysis and research aspects of the degrees. I always was attracted to the large animals, but realized that having not grown up around them, that I could never have the same degree of understanding that comes only from experience. All mine was “book learnin”. So, I liked them – but I didn’t KNOW them in a sense.
After I retired, I watched a movie called Temple Grandin, click here to watch. She is an autistic who was able to look at cattle in a way that no one before her had – she realized that they needed to be treated with dignity and that some our handling procedures could be improved on. She found ways to keep cattle calm when they were being worked. Her work is revolutionary . That movie had such an impact on me that it had an influence on what and how I wanted to paint.
When I first started watercolor, I was taught to paint what I saw, but I knew that wasn’t how my heart wanted to paint. So, I took more classes, explored different techniques and as I moved along the learning curves were brutal – I struggled with every thing that I did. Slowly, my own technique began to evolve. I began to paint animals that developed a personality all their own. I painted then – with an artist interpretation – my own.
So, when you look at my paintings, I hope that you too will see the admiration that I feel for each animal and the dignity that they exhibit.