This particular longhorn bull, who is named Daddy O, had been a show bull in Ohio before the owner of a longhorn ranch in Virginia purchased him at auction. This charming Longhorn bull, who was one big daddy, knew all about posing. He was so busy strutting his stuff that, as I sketched and photographed him, he would turn one way to pose and then another, always seeming to maintain interest in what I was doing. He had presence and charm, and simply walked away when he was finished posing. The painting itself is named “Presenting Himself” which is the behavior he practiced.
I loved painting this bull, because I loved the story that came with him. That is truly the art of painting for me. Without a story line for my subject, there is always an emptiness that seems sad. Then, the end result is only a painting, since I never really knew who my subject was in life.
When I visited the ranch in Virginia, the ranch owner told me I could get some of his bovine “cake”, otherwise known as pellets, and entice the bull to come over to me so I could get a better look at him. Well, I filled my ski jacket up with bovine pellets, and with the owner I went to the fence line where Daddy O was meandering in his pasture. As we walked over to the fence, the ranch owner called him by name. He lifted his head, and it took a couple of minutes or so before he started to amble toward us. As he got closer, I offered the “cake” to him. He just stood there and looked at me with this, “really, is that all you got” look.
I quickly started clicking away with my camera when it was obvious he wasn’t interested in the “cake”. I made some notes in my notebook about his eyes and if he had purple in his horns (shows blood flow), rings in his horns, which way his hair lays, the size of his ears, the true color of his nostrils, and anything unusual about him. I put my notebook on the ground, put the camera in one of my pockets and pulled out the cake again. Then, Daddy O gave me a look of disdain and turned around abruptly and walked away. That was it. He looked at me as if to say, “that’s it lady; you had your chance.” That’s the magic in painting animals. I just love those moments. The magic occurs again when I look at one of my images, and recall the story behind them.
“Presenting Himself” was first published by Somerset House Publishing,
was featured in the Crow’s Nest catalog, and was on the front cover of the New Mexico Stockman’s Journal. His image is now being distributed through the international publishing house, The Old World Art Group.