Highland Cattle

I can now ( I hope) reveal details of a commission I painted in January which was a surprise present and you can never be certain who’s going to see these things. Although mostly I’m certain it’s not many!

The required painting was of a highland cow and the request was passed on by my friend Sheila Jones who paints delicate atmospheric scenes on silk. But, as she says, she can’t do Hairy. She recalled a card design of mine which I forwarded to the potential customer:

Highland Cow version 2A

This Lady was in the Lake District and I took a couple of cards back to the farmer’s wife the year after I’d done the painting. Believe it or not, she recognised the subject from my painting – who says ‘seen one, seen them all’?

This was accepted as suitable credentials and I started some drawings (version one). Then I was asked to add a couple of calves. Now, I thought I had a photo of highland calves from a holiday in Scotland so I changed the format to landscape, added a couple and sent off the images for approval (version two):P1020846 highland cow cropped

I was a bit dismayed to read that the calves were not stocky or hairy enough – could I do anything about that? Watercolorists will realise the limited potential for change, particularly as I’d (over)confidently taken the paper off the stretching board. Sure enough, a photo of genuine highland calves (mine must have been cross-breds, maybe) revealed my error.

I brought the grass up higher to make the legs shorter and added quite a lot of hairy tufts and sent off version three.  There followed a tentative suggestion that the cow in the background might like to have horns too? I explained that it was intended to be a second calf which would not yet have grown horns.

I was thus spared a fourth version and I believe my customer went off happy with this:

P1020854 cropped

I’m reminded of a chef friend who used to say that the worst cooking job of all was that of a grill chef ‘because you invite the customer to tell you how to cook’. I think commissions are a bit like that – but hey – ┬áThe customer is always right!



Meanwhile…I’ve been a bit distracted by Chandos Society matters. So to see what I’ve been up to, have a look at http://www.chandossociety.wordpress.com, my ‘sister’ blog.

I shall shortly be trying to catch up with more exclusively ME as Somerset Arts Week is fast approaching.

I’ve at least got round to sending my Somerset Scenes 2014 Calendar off to the printer.

Here are some of my favorites

Highland Cattle near Westhay

Highland Cattle near Westhay

Shapwick Church in the Snow

Shapwick Church in the Snow

Summer Solstice, Burrow Mump

Summer Solstice, Burrow Mump