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Saturday, April 18, 2020

I was Afraid to Paint Cows!

'The Moovers and Shakers'                 9x12               pastel              ©Karen Margulis
available in my Etsy shop $175
  I have had this cow reference photo in my pile for years. I have been hesitant to paint them. I don't usually put people, animals and structures in my paintings but I have so many intriguing photos with these elements. It was time to give the cows a try. I remembered advice I got years ago which gave me more confidence. Here is the story:

It looked daunting. But I really wanted to paint them. I was on a painting trip with Stan Sperlak's Painters Passport group in Normandy. The cows surrounded our home base and wandered the fields near our home. I went out each morning with the intention of painting the landscape but I kept being drawn back to those cows! But how would I paint them from life? They were always on the move or were changing positions. Would I be able to paint fast enough? I hesitated.

But then I remembered advice given to me when I first started painting. I was taking a workshop with Terry Ludwig. And somehow the subject of painting things other than landscapes came up. I expressed my fear of including figures or animals in my landscapes. His answer was simple.

  "They are only SHAPES"

They are just shapes. That made sense. If I stopped calling them by name and just looked at the shapes I should be able to paint the cows. It wouldn't even matter how quickly they moved because I could quickly capture their shape and gesture. Once I focused on the shapes and values within the shapes I was able to get a good impression of those French cows.

My plein air cows 5x7 pastel

Today's painting is on Daler Rowney unsanded pastel paper 

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