Sunday, October 18, 2009


Cattle Drive
about 12x16, oil

Many times my best work is done quickly.  I've been thinking about how to paint this scene we viewed on vacation above Taos NM.  It was only by accident we caught this cattle drive across the highway.    I could make several more paintings from the photos, even though they weren't very good.

I like to call some paintings "sketches" until I know if they will turn out ok.
With apologies for the blurry photos, I thought you'd like to see how this one came together.

First stage
I had to select a small part from the references - such wide open spaces in the mountains of New Mexico!  Many times I'm excited about the subject and I don't bother to tone the canvas.

Second stage - the horse gets some simple value - there's not much color anyway.    If you can click to enlarge, you'll see the cattle are just a smear and smudge.  At this stage I didn't know whether I'd detail the cattle or not so the smudge effect didn't matter.

Close up of horse - and smudges.   I'm just paying attention to major shapes and simplifying them into tones and color.
Playing warm against cool,  light against dark shapes.....

blurry - I'm sorry- the cowboy just doesn't look right - he will get a little more simple measuring.
Really,   it's not long to get to the finish - the cattle didn't require much - only touches of medium cool values, and then LOTS of paint for the background,  warms under and behind the horse to suggest brown cattle,   and then I decided the background needed breaking into simple shapes.
Wish you could feel the sharp wind that day and hear the cattle as they came down across the field to the water hole.......

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