Sunday, 1 June 2014

'On the horns of a dilemma' - Highland Cow in acrylic impasto

highland cow+impasto+acrylic+nic mclean
'On the horns of a dilemma' - acylic impasto 40cm x 50cm

This is one I started several weeks ago when I first decided to try my hand at impasto. The background has gone through many, many incarnations and I've gotten through many, many, many tubes of acyrlic paint - I love the 3D texture of impasto but my Dog, it uses up a lot of paint!

Close up of the thick layers of paint 

I used a photo that S took recently when he was out and about during his family's visit but I sort of made the background up.I messed around and messed around and eventually hit on something that I liked.

highland cow+box canvas+ragged edges+nic mclean
The ragged edges are deliberate!

In keeping with the mini landscapes I've been doing recently I decided to do ragged edges as if the paint was peeling away from a black background. I liked it as I was doing it but then had a crisis of confidence and so, I called upon my good art friend Sandra for her opinion on whether it looked deliberate or would people think I just couldn't paint a straight black border round the sides of the box canvas! Sandra reassured me that it worked which is what I was hoping she'd say as I really quite like it!

Anyway, I finished this a couple of weeks ago and am working on some more mini landscapes for some more local exhibitions but plan on doing some more animals like this too.

In the meantime, another of the auctions that I donated artwork to has completed and this time I offered to do a custom portrait of the winner's dog. I've been in contact with the winner today and will be starting a gouache portrait of a beautiful lurcher this week. As much as I'm enjoying the unpredictability and expressionism of impasto I'm really looking forward to getting back to some more realistic gouache. It's nice to switch between the two styles - perhaps if I had to label myself as an artist I'd be a realistic expressionist or would I be an expressionistic realist?!


  1. the texture on this is perfect!! that's one furry animal! the ragged edges you decided on is perfect for this piece. nice touch!!

  2. So different to our bulls, and I too like the edge to the painting.

  3. Yes, you're a fine realistic impressionist. I love the texture you're getting with this new work, especially with the closeup (second photo). Amazing and I'm happy all these doors are opening up for you. I can't wait to see what you'll come up with next!

  4. I think its beautiful, I love to paint animals, birds, but fin landscape easier, I love a challenge so I paint the animals. lol, I think I would say I am the same , impressionistic realism artist!!!I love the color of these big beasts!!! I also love love the texture, I wouldn't want to o it all the time but I have painted a few with the heavy texture, you're right, it uses a heck of a lot of paint!!!I can't wait til you show us the lurcher, I love those dogs,

  5. I LUV that texture and it works great for shaggy cows !! :-D LoL Very clever painting and I am glad you are having fun with something new. Congrats on getting another order for work (even if you did offer it yourself) :-D

    IKE in Greece xx

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  6. Lol! It's nice to think that my opinion mattered - thank you!
    Hmm... have you thought of trying 'texture paste' or 'heavy body medium' to your paint? This way you use much less paint to get the effect you are looking for. Just a thought!
    I think it is perfectly okay to have two styles - it just means marketing them in different ways, that's all.
    I have been honoured to have had a sneak preview of your highland cow and I still think it is gorgeous! You just need a series of impasto landscapes and Scottish animals and surely it'll be time to take them all to a Gallery!! :0)

  7. I like your west highland cow, but why does it have horns? And is so shaggy? What do I know about cows??? Congratulations on your commission. And I liked the edges of your painting when I noticed them in your 4 landscapes. They look great and very interesting to me.

  8. what ever you choose to call yourself in addition, "ARTIST extraordinaire" is it! I can't get enough of looking at (ok, studying) all the details and paint strokes in your pieces.And I adore the highland cow.

  9. I love those descriptions of your art! AND I love all that lovely depth and texture - AND the edges too. I say Bravo! Oh, and thank you for stopping by the SOC, so happy to have you join in again this year! xoxo

  10. Oh, I love these cows! I always wonder how they can see ... ;-) The way you did the border fits perfectly with her wild manes. I can imagine you're going through tubes of paint. What I meant to ask: what's the difference between painting with acrylics and painting with gouache? Apart from the fact that gouache is not waterproof? I can't find a good reason to start using gouache, since it would drive me crazy to have to seal my work all the time, but I see so many people using it that it makes me wonder whether there's some kind of secret advantage to it ....

  11. This is fantastic, Nicola. Good choice for an impasto that you could make all your own! Tons of personality and oh how much the old expression "bad hair day" comes to mind. I love looking at art and rarely does one come along that makes me want to laugh for the sheer joy that the image is fun. I love this!


Your comments always colour me happy! Thank you for popping by.


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