Home working but different!
Hi Jackie, cows are quite a unusual subject for an artist. Did you always want to paint them?
No, not at all. I fell into painting cows quite by chance. I had a photograph that I had taken of a particularly friendly cow from a holiday walk years before and when searching around for something to paint, I happened across it and one cow led to another, as they say.
What’s the process – do you sit in the field and paint?
I wish I had the time and the patience to do that. My children are the main focus of my life, so there is a lot of time spent running around after them.
The easiest thing for me, painting-wise, is to spend a while chatting to and photographing some cows in a field (preferably with a hedge or a gate in between me and them) and then coming home and editing the photographs on the computer until I come up with an image to paint.
Is cow painting a full-time job or do you have other commitments too?
When I have an exhibition coming up, I devote a lot of time to painting. But it is easy to let it slip when there is nothing coming up to focus on. Home working means my domestic life suffers when I am in full painting mode. A lot more ironing, cleaning and cooking gets done when I am in a less busy period.
With the two children and most recently a puppy in the family (oh and a husband, but he is fairly low maintenance!) there is always something else that I could be doing. Plus, I am chair of the school PTA which always takes up far more time than it should do.
All your cows have names. How do you come up with them?
I love naming my cows. It is like choosing a name for a baby – they just have to look like their names. Sometimes, I let my children name them and they come up with really great names.
Recently, I did an exhibition of cows set with London backgrounds and had great fun naming them – for instance “Bridget” by Tower Bridge and “Pauline” by St Paul’s.
Are your cows displayed in any public places where we can see them?
One of my enterprises is supplying local country pubs and restaurants with cow art for their walls, so there are quite a few of my cows around and about in the Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire area. Regulars and staff get quite attached to them and start renaming them after their own staff!
I have original work in a few West Country galleries and I also open my studio for Dorset Art Weeks every other year.
Do you have a typical buyer? Are they private or corporate collectors?
My typical buyer is usually aged 30-50 and has some link to the countryside or farming. That might be visiting their grandparents on a farm in their childhood, or they might have moved to the city and they need a reminder of the countryside in their home.
Some people are just plain soppy about cows, though. I have sold a few paintings to agricultural companies for their offices. One day I would like to paint a gigantic cow picture for someone’s office, I am just waiting for the right opportunity.
Jackie Spurrier has been painting cows since 2002 when she accidentally discovered there is a cow art-loving community! You can meet some of her subjects on cowsoncanvas.
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