Backward Glance

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

I painted Backward Glance in May of 2017. The painting is 24”x 30”, acrylic on stretched canvas. I began this painting, inspired by a reference photo that caught my eye. Early in the spring of 2017, my husband, Ryan, and I, made the five minute drive to Molen, to take reference photos of his uncle Kash’s cows and ranch. This Corriente heifer struck a pose that captivated my eye and became the inspiration for a special painting.

I edited the photo to bring out the cool blues and grays in the cow’s hide, nose and horns. I then chose a dramatic cloudy sky from another reference and began my sketch directly on the canvas. I then glazed over the entire surface of the canvas with a shade of pyrrole red to serve as an underpainting.

Of interest to some, may be the particular breed of this cow, Corriente. This breed is descended from Spanish animals brought to the Americas as early as 1493. Corriente are prized for their athletic, slender and agile build. They are frequently used in the sport of rodeo for timed events such as roping and bulldogging. The build, lighter weight and long curving horns of the breed, make them ideal for sporting events. Some cattlemen raise Corriente for the meat, which contains about half the fat content as other beef breeds. Another beneficial trait of the breed is their ability to graze efficiently on a wide variety of native vegetation. In other words-they aren’t picky eaters!

For myself as an artist, this painting is meaningful to me for several reasons. Although my

“masterpiece” will always be in the future, Backward Glance will always be an important painting to me and will always be a favorite. At the time I painted this piece, I felt as though it was an artistic breakthrough for me and a bit of a turning point in my pursuit of a painting career. This painting is a little more stylized and fanciful than some of my previous work, where I may have been too stiffly rooted in realism and rigidly following photo references. The stylized clouds are contrived in their shape and unnatural color. As for the Corriente beauty featured, her shiny nose has reflections and highlights in electric blue. Her forehead whorl is composed of expertly placed rectangle brush strokes, and her glistening eyes are alert and life-like.

I painted the background desert scenery entirely from my internalized knowledge and memory of the Sinbad desert grazing range, which is a big part of my husband’s family heritage, the Winn, San Rafael Ranch.

For about two weeks, I immersed myself in the creation of this painting, trying to say something and developing my brush strokes and painterly language to carry my message. I view this piece as an important milestone in my ongoing journey to find my voice as an artist.

People often ask artists, “about how long does it take you to paint something like this?’ The literal answer to that question for Backward Glance, is 45 hours and 30 minutes. The most accurate and comprehensive answer is 46 years!

The beginnings of my pursuit of art start with my earliest conscious memories. My very first vivid memory from early childhood, has to do with my dad teaching me to color with a crayon. I always wanted to be an artist. Aside from my family roles, being an artist has always been my main goal and focus.

Nurturing from parents, experiences being raised on a farm, influences from society and culture, positive and negative molding in the education system- all these factors play into the conception and creation of this painting. Countless hours of study, practice, observation, emulation, self-critiquing, and plain hard work, coalesce in the creation of such a painting.

I embarked on my painting journey in earnest in 2011. Before that, I painted sporadically,

beginning in childhood with oil painting lessons, at age eight, and continuing on through college art classes and workshops as an adult.

For at least 10 years now, I have been painting for myself, not for a grade or as a favor to others. This doesn’t mean I want to hoard all the work and never part with my paintings-hardly-but because now, when I paint, I’m saying what “I” want to say. It is my authentic voice, not the manifestation of what other people think would be worthwhile. It seems counterintuitive, but when I paint for me, it is my gift to others. The art that I bring into existence can come only through me, and that is true for every artist in any art form.

Throughout my life, I have always known art was my love, my talent and God-given gift. I have done many things to earn money, pay the bills, and meet the demands of daily life, but when the mundane distractions of living, kept me away from creating and being artistic, I was never happy or satisfied. Now, after putting creativity as an ongoing life priority, I am happier and more stable than ever before. I have realized that creative work is necessary to my well-being because I am wired that way. At this point, just past the dreaded mid-life crisis point, I feel more confident, positive and excited about the future than ever before. Commitment brings a strange and reassuring confidence that all will work out. No matter what life brings, I plan to keep painting, growing, working and learning, going forward without so much as a “Backward Glance”

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