How to transform a sheep into a shepherd…

July 3, 2023

If you follow my blog (bowing head in gratitude if you do…) you will have noticed some posts about the ‘Unflappable sheep’. It was a painting based on an old photograph I once took in the north of Scotland, featuring, you got it: a Scottish sheep. The backdrop was a castle at the edge of the ocenan, gone to ruins. As a photograph, it has incredible charm, even if I say so myself. But as a painting it did not… Read that story here

As a painter, it happens. You have a great idea for a new piece of art but once you start working on it, it just does not seem to deliver. Look at where I started with the ‘Unflappable sheet’:

Not too bad, right? Nevertheless, the final result of this painting was simply boring. All the parts were nice, but put together they produced a painting that did not rise over ‘bleh’. This may sound appropriate when the main subject is a sheep 🙂 but it was time to make some big decisions. Would I throw the canvas away? Would I keep it as a ‘lessons learned’? Or would I try and paint over it? The latter being quite hard because I had introduced texture in the coat of the sheep.

My AHA moment came when I realised that I will, in all probability, never be an abstract artist, nor a landscape painter. Neither of the two styles really work for me. And therein lay my error. I was trying to do something that did not came natural. It is never bad to colour outside of the lines, think outside of the box. These can be good learning experiences. And I certainly learned a lot. My heart is with painting people and animals, anything with a beating heart.

So I then came up with an idea that involved a human portrait, I could feel my creative juices start to wake up and come to a boil. Here was my plan: I was going to use the texture of the sheep’s coat as a beard. A white beard. Hence it would have to be a senior male. And one thing led to the other and my idea then solified in the portrait of an old shepherd. Since this would be the umpteeth time I would put paint on this canvas, I did not expect it to be a true masterpiece. So why not have some fun with it and put the original unflappable sheep IN the beard?

Come see in this short video how the sheep changed into a shepherd. And find the sheep, because it is still there.

Acrylic on board – 20 / 24 inc, July 2023 – The Shepherd and the Sheep

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