How to paint a highland cow

How to paint a highland cow

 I shall apologise profusely, as this is a blog from a few years ago, albeit  very popular one, but life here at Watercolours By Rachel HQ is hectic. Getting my eldest ready to return to university, getting my Christmas cards and calendars ready, posting orders, arranging new commissions etc etc. I just haven't had time to write anything new for today .

The weather here in Devon has been awful, luckily we avoided being flooded, but others were not so lucky. The sunshine from a few weeks ago seems a distant memory .


Leaves are beginning to turn and there is an autumnal feel to the air.


So what cheers everyone up, and is dripping in autumn colour, a lovely , shaggy, characterful highland cow, lets revisit how he was painted, forget about the world for a while and have some fun.

I love painting these shaggy haired creatures, who seem to have a personality all their own.

Step I 

Draw your cow



Step 2 

I paint the tightest parts first so I begin with his nose ( there are no eyes to paint on this beast!) Thinking carefully about lights and darks , I like to add blues to the pinks.


Step 3

Next is the horns, there are many more colours in there than you think. and remember to add shading so they have that nice 'rounded' feel.



Step 4 

Now the fun begins....water lots of it and flood the hairy bits with water and an under painting of yellow


Step 5

Here you can be as mad or restrained as you like . I like to think about what makes the animal you are painting what it it is. A bird it maybe the wings, a zebra it's the stripes a highland cow it's the shaggy coat. So I want to emphasize that in the piece, I add colour take it away, spray the piece with water, splatter, flick turn it upside down and generally make a mess, but always looking at what is happening if you like it ,keep it ,if not blot it out. Practice and see what happens....


Step 6

I also want to give an impression of the rest of the cow. Same as the head really but fainter so I paint it then fade the colour away with lots of water, it gives the head the focus


Step 7

Almost there, let it dry then you can add more splatters, and I like to add some gold ink and white acrylic flicks and splatters to finish the whole piece off....


I hope you found this fun, sometimes being free and loose is much more tricky than being precise and measured, I don't quite know why, perhaps because there is no right or wrong way to do it. Try to let yourself go and see what the paint does, and when it looks good leave it!!!

I hope this has cheered you up a bit , and you can 'mooove' on to a happier place ( I apologise for the terrible joke, happy painting everyone  


Back to blog

Leave a comment