Rednex Ranch Blog

Staying in Shape, Artistically Speaking
February 10, 2016

Our year starts with a flurry of activity called calving season and at this time of year, it’s a 24/7 kind of job. While it’s exciting to see the results of a carefully planned breeding program, it’s tricky finding time to make art. Just like your physical fitness is maintained with exercise, artistic talents need regular practice too.

Over the years I have learned a few things that work and don’t work for staying artistically in shape during calving season. As far as the do-nots go, I put away the brushes and paints until spring. It’s time consuming to set out the palette of paints and brushes, and it can be disastrous to get pulled away from a painting to help out a cow, and come back hours later to dried paint and ruined brushes. A much more forgiving media is pencil work – graphite, colored pencils and watercolor pencils. The only tools involved are pencils and paper, and I can safely lay down a pencil and walk away for hours with no harmful side effects.


It’s pretty easy to have pen, pencil and paper lying around wherever I am. There are multiple sketchbooks around the house and I even found one small enough to fit in the pocket of my chore coat – happy days! But any scrap of paper will do – even the latest pile of mail is fair game for doodling. There is no shortage of things to draw, although some are more interesting than others – it’s just the act of picking up a pen and drawing what’s in front of me – my hand, the dishes on the table, the cat on the fence or the cow in the barn. The point is to stay in practice to record what I see, and not what my left brain is telling me.

colored pencils

The other thing I do differently at this time of year is work on small pieces – usually no bigger than 5″ x 7″ . It’s not my intention to complete finished pieces – although sometimes it works out that way – but rather to experiment. My focus is to try out new tools, techniques, color combinations or compositions to see what works, and repeat the goodness later on in bigger pieces. My current experiment is learning to work with colored pencils, and that is a test of my patience (more about that later).

So even if I am sleep deprived and my brain is addled, I still keep my creative muse happy and in shape!