Over the Moon

This spring I travelled to Dallas, Texas. Inspired by artwork and culture of the once wild west, I couldn't help but come home and make my own western painting.

 I couldn't resist sitting on top of one of the magnificient Longhorn Bulls.

I couldn't resist sitting on top of one of the magnificient Longhorn Bulls.

Inspiration

There were a lot of different things in Texas that inspired this painting. The first thing was all the amazing artwork that originated in this once untamed land. The paintings by Frederic Remington are so full of life and raw energy. I loved how his horses seem to jump off the page. I wanted to create a painting that embraced that same energy.

Although I was tempted to paint a horse like Remington, I was fully impressed by the longhorn bulls in Texas. I've lived in Connecticut for most of my life, and we don't have any cows quite like them.

The idea for this painting was inspired by the old nursery rhyme of the cow jumping over the moon. I wanted to do a new take on this story. I envisioned one of these giant longhorn bulls jumping over the moon. But I didn't want to just paint a bull. Instead, I imagined a story of a boy taking a nighttime journey with his four legged friend. Perhaps the two of them are jumping into the night sky, or is it just the dream of a boy drifting away to sleep?

Challenges

 Initial Thumbnail Sketches

Initial Thumbnail Sketches

The idea of this painting scared me from the very beginning. That's how I knew I had to paint it!

I've never painted a vast cloudscape like this before, and I was excited by the challenge. I wanted my clouds to look large and fluffy, as if my bull is emerging from a puff of smoke. I did lots of research on photographs of clouds, paintings of cloudscapes, and children's books illustrations of the moon. 

The other challenge was to make my bull look as full of life as the Remington paintings. We went to a rodeo in Texas, so I was able to see a lot of bulls jumping in action. Using photos from this event, and researching a lot paintings of bulls, I tried to harness this energy.

Below you can see all of my sketches and studies that lead to the final painting.