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Highlander and Longhorn Cow | Painting Process for ‘Best Friends’

Every year for their birthdays, the grandkids pick the subject they want me to paint. And every time we do this, their requests are getting more and more challenging. The latest one I’ve started is a scene that includes two cows. Not just any cows, but a longhorn and a highlander. I make a print for the birthday gift and put the original and prints into my shop inventory.

So the random paintings serve double duty and we all get a kick out of it. With six grands in the queue, and a couple more and a great that hasn’t been onboarded yet, it keeps me with a constant lineup, though I don’t ever lack ideas of my own.

A painting of a highlander cow and a longhorn together in a pasture. An Ozark pigments watercolor by Madison Woods.
The finished photo: Best Friends, two unlikely pasture mates.

Title: Best Friends

This one got a name once I’d started painting. They appear to be best friends, don’t they? I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it work, as I don’t have a reference to work from for these as a pair, other than random cow pictures to give me an idea of shapes of things like especially noses. I love the shaggy highlander fur, but the colors of longhorns appeal to me. There really wasn’t enough room on the page to put all of their horns, though.

It’s 12 x 16″ on Arches Hot Press, and features the Ozark watercolor pigments exclusively.

Highlander and Longhorn in Progress

Other Cow Art

I’ve painted a couple of other cows, both Brahmans. The first was a calf and the second was a young heifer named Whisper. Both of those cows were gray and white. It’s nice to add the highlander with a bit of color for a change in the cow portraits.

A Bit of Whimsy

So obviously, these are not realism. While they are representational, there is a bit of whimsy in the style. I see the whimsy especially in the longhorn’s eyes. I hope you enjoy them! I’ll post the final picture when I’m done. That should be soon, as I’ve got another birthday subject to work on and finish before the end of the month. The next request is a scene containing both a moccasin snake AND a capybara. Okay then. Keep an eye on my Instagram if you want ‘as I do them’ updates on any of my art.

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at the highlander and longhorn!



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