Small improvements for the greater good
This was a favorite painting of mine mostly because of the story attached to it. I was back in the middle of the woods on a private farm. I just drove through till I found this nice little set-up and as I was sketching it in, this herd of cows just sort of showed up. I looked down to mix a color, looked up and ....cows. I was knee deep in cows. As I've said before cows are relatively easy to paint from a distance, they all sort of look alike so when one moves you can look to another to finish the first. Here, though, I had two curious calves who came up to see what I was doing for a few minutes and then went on down the buffet line. Knowing they were going to keep moving I sketched them in as quickly as possible, indicating where shadow and light fell and put quick notes of color down so I could remember what was what. They moved on after maybe 5 minutes and I then concentrated on the cows in the distance. Once the whole heard left I was free to finish all the stuff that didn't move. The painting then went up to Walls Gallery in Wilmington where it stayed for about a year. Picking it up on the paint switch run I could clearly see where the painting could use a few small improvements.
For some reason I put this cow in the lower right corner, maybe thinking it needed something there, maybe just because it was there, but I could clearly see that it didn't belong. Furthermore, the distant trees were't distant in terms of value and color. I glazed a thin misture of liquin, white and blue tint over the background tree line to push them back and glazed a thin mix of burnt umber over the foreground shadows to darken and warm. Repainted the grass so it wasn't so acidic and took out the cow in profile. I think it helped support the center of interest better. I also pushed the ambient light on the main tree to give it more roundness. Must've made a big difference because I sold it in the studio that weekend. That and finally a lady who liked cows came by and saw it. One part skill, 2 parts luck,