by cheri sabraw
Painting an animal sets the artist up for criticism, unlike painting a tree or flower.
There’s always an old cowboy at the show who will let you know immediately that a certain muscle is wrong.
I’ve just finished reading Leonardo by Walter Isaacson, a long and detailed biography of Leonardo da Vinci, who, I learned, never stopped his dissections of the human body. In fact, when he was painting the Mona Lisa–which he carried around for 16 years making changes to it–he dissected the mouths of corpses, trying to get that mysterious smile just right.
The last time I dissected anything was 50 years ago in sophomore biology. Those stinky slimy frogs, bathed in formaldehyde, were enough for me to change my mind about vet school.
I cannot paint an animal until I put the eyes on. Then, somehow, the creature becomes easier for me to draw and paint.
This girl, a piebald Angus, begged for a photograph, which I dutifully snapped. The light was perfect. Her face was in half-shadow with a large orangey-pink nose and a red tag. But what really cracked me up was that she stopped chewing her fresh green grass when she saw me trudging up the mountain. That mouthful of grass is, I think, what makes this painting sweet and maybe one you would stop to look at a bit longer.
For me, it is the eyelashes that draw me in and those are not enhanced!