Cows, Plein Air Painting, and More Cows

Bloggrrl is having a creatively wonderful and udderly ridiculous contest on her site called Cow Patty Bingo. Fortunately we do not have use actual cow patties in any manner for the contest.

That is a good thing for many reasons, including the fact that any cow patties I encounter get dug into my garden, which would probably eliminate their usefulness in a contest. If I have to choose how to use an actual cow patty, the garden will win. (Hmmm, large tomatoes in well fertilized soil, or enter a contest? Tomatoes, of course!)

While I revere cow patties for their ability to become tomatoes, cows themselves are sacred animals to many people, for reasons that totally escaped me one fine morning in my teens.

I went to my neighbor’s cow pasture to draw the sunrise at the river in pastels. These days it would be called plein air painting. Plein air painting is a process I carefully avoid now that I have some mature intelligence I occasionally use.

My first error was succumbing to my dog Tico’s desperate entreaties to be included. He was good at running along my bicycle while I held his chain. The trouble began at the electric gate. The sun was coming and I was in a hurry to get to the river to start my drawing.

I leaned over the handlebars to unlock the gate. Regrettably at that moment Tico saw a rabbit. He made a big lunge and I fell across the electric gate with my bicycle and the chain. The current zapped the dog and me both, but eventually I managed to yank the bike off the gate.

Surprisingly, the morning was able to deteriorate even further from that moment. Tico was a small dog who somehow inspired murder in the hearts of every cow in the pasture. He thought I should be his protector, which greatly interfered with my pastel work.

I could not take him home because the light of sunrise would be gone before I got back. I thought I had solved the problem when I parked my bicycle on a high bank and took the dog below to a narrow edge of riverbank. The cows could not climb down the high bank to get us.

However, one particularly murderous cow took to the water to launch a naval attack on my terrified dog. The others occupied themselves with attempting to eat the seat cover on my bicycle until they knocked the bike off the high bank, scattering my drawing papers in the river.

As you can see, the practice of plein air drawing or painting offers plenty of drawbacks. Cows can be lively participants in these drawbacks.

I had an artist friend who decided to paint a watercolor outdoors. She had to go take a phone call, and when she returned to her easel, the family cow had given the painting a big slobbery lick, destroying it.

Cows are not the only detriment to plein air work. Try bugs, wind, rain, poison ivy, and so forth. Perhaps add in a rattlesnake or skunk once in awhile.

Years ago in Arizona I was waiting to move into a house and needed to work on a painting too large to fit in the temporary trailer. That meant I had a four foot by six foot oil painting set up in the carport where the light was decent.

I had just covered the entire surface with fresh wet paint when a dust devil went through the carport, leaving bugs, sticks, and all manner of debris embedded in the paint. Some paintings might be enhanced by such textures, but this was not one of them.

Frankly, when I paint, I much prefer to concentrate on the creative process rather than fending off deranged cows and uncooperative weather effects. That is why artists have studios, right?

So I am much amused by the hype surrounding plein air painting. Oh well, to each his own.

As for cows, as I said I greatly appreciate their patties. I have found their raw milk to be extremely beneficial to my health. I still do not want any cows near my easel.

Bloggrrl posted a great photo of a woman wearing a cow costume. In fact, although she has other humorous articles such as the Three Little Blogs, the Cow Patty Bingo one is my favorite, partly because of that photo.

I wish I had a photo of a pair of pants I heard about yesterday in our gallery. One of our clients has a son who designs skateboard pants. He created a pair of pants in the black and white cowhide pattern.

Then he added pockets, not set inside the pants, but on the outside. They were pink, shaped like udders, and you could put your hands in the pockets and make your fingers wiggle the teats.

I think Bloggrrl would like those pants. If I had a pair of them, it might be worth one more foray into a pasture, just to wear them to shock the cows while I painted.

Copyright © Lexi Sundell 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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