belties-ambrose-med

“Belties” Belted Galloway oil painting

In the early years of my art career, I focused strictly on wildlife and natural landscapes. Only wild, tough animals like cougars and grizzly bears were proper painting subjects, and not mushy zoo animals either. I had to observe the real thing in the wild. And the grizzly bears I encountered in Alaska were definitely wild and awe inspiring.

Plein air painting in Alsaka with John Seerey-Lester, 1992

Plein air painting in Alaska with John Seerey-Lester, 1992

Fast forward a couple of decades.
I knew cows existed, as a little cracker kid, I rode them around Florida pastures on brief, bumpy rides. Mostly, when I looked at them, I thought steak or milk—not painting motifs. My mind was pretty rigid on some things.

Well these past seven years my mind has been expanded in amazing and enlightening ways by a fascinating girl—dietary and creatively. I no longer have filters on judging whether something is paint worthy. Other forms of mind expansion I tried as a younger, less wiser me often concluded in unpredictable results. But the natural way of this one person has opened the flood gates of beautiful possibilities.

One day I find myself on a gravel road in North Carolina painting an old homestead. Some cows are lying in the field around it. A few of them get up and straggle towards me. Before I knew it a whole herd of them are lined up in front of me inches from my easel. I couldn’t even see the house anymore.

Studying their faces, I grew interested in the forms. So I took out my sketchbook and started drawing. Drawing always gives me ideas. My advice to artists; carry a sketchbook with you and draw everything.

A few days later, my navigator and I, were headed to town and we saw white cows dotting a pasture. Eventually one became the subject of this egg tempera painting of a Charolais cow.

Last August we were in Maine and more aware of cows now, I wanted to see the Belted Galloway’s. So we went on a cow hunt. When we finally caught up to some I was surprised to see that they were smaller than the Charolais in Carolina. They look like big shaggy dogs.

I painted this small oil painting of these Belted Galloway’s on site and just added some finishing touches. It’s destined for the Northlight Gallery in Maine next month.

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