Rednex Ranch Blog

The Story Behind the Art
May 17, 2017

The detail I strive to achieve in my art requires working from photographs, because let’s face it – Molly Moo Cow won’t stand still that long to be a live model! Consequently, I’m always collecting reference material as I go about the daily business around here.

JSK 39DI was drawn to the inquisitive nature of this calf. Sometimes calves like this become your best friend, and other times, they always stay just out of reach. He’s been in the back of my mind for awhile now, begging me to draw him; but I hadn’t decided on the rest of the details – would it be wintertime? or would he be out to pasture and green grass? a portrait? or a landscape with pasture buddies?

The idea was born while checking cows during this past calving season. We were blessed with mild weather in January and February, and many of our calves could enjoy their straw bedding outside for weeks before becoming acquainted with the shed. When the calendar flipped to March, winter truly began with more snow than we’d had all winter.

calves in shed

The rancHER was reminded what a relief it is to find the calves snug and dry in the shed when the temperatures drop and the snow doesn’t know when to quit. On this particular day, the sun was shining and the youngsters were enjoying their sunbathing. The artist was attracted to the light and shadows, and various textures of the wood grain, straw and haircoats  – so  I decided to round up a couple of buddies for my Curious George and “All Tucked In” began. The irony of creating this art at this time is 2017 will be remembered as the year winter forgot to stop and spring was a long time coming. It was the end of March before I thought it was safe to pick up my pencil for some uninterrupted studio time.


Normally I start a picture with the top left and work across and down. I did things a little differently this time. Confident in my ability to do the calves, I started with the parts that would challenge me – the wood and the straw – if I didn’t get those right, the rest wouldn’t really matter.

in progressBuilding straw is tedious business, and progress is measured in inches. The calendar says it is April 7 and the snow just won’t quit. Temperatures warmed enough to put us into full blown mud season. With mud up to the tops of our boots and beyond, even the simplest chore became a CHORE! The ruts just kept getting deeper, and I had to forego filling my shed on the drawing board with filling the sheds outside.

all tucked inWith the end in site, Mother Nature decided to cooperate and the weather outside became more spring -like. Warmer temperatures and dry days meant more time indoors at the drawing board. There was one more hurdle to overcome – creating a shadow for my main character. I spent a number of sunny mornings checking the cattle to find just the “right” shadow – going out at first light when the sun was still low to mimic February sunshine as close as I could. I put my pencils down and walked away from the drawing board for a couple of weeks. There were a few things that didn’t agree with my artist’s eye.

20170509_112206-1Finally, spring arrived for real! With fresh eyes and pencil in hand, I adjusted here and there, and declared it done – “All Tucked In” – graphite, 9.5″x6.5″all tucked in