Painting Cattle

I have been fortunate to receive commissions for many racehorses over the years. On most occasions I have been given the freedom to come up with my own composition and I enjoy the work immensely. However, it is nice to try something different and I’ve been thinking of painting cattle as a slightly different challenge. The Belted Galloway is the local breed, originating from this area in the west of southern Scotland.


This particular breed is easy to pick out with their broad white belt and are a pleasure to behold in the surrounding countryside. They have adapted to living on the upland and windswept pastures of Galloway. It is believed that the white belt is a result of cross breeding the black Galloway cattle with the Dutch Lakenvelder belted cattle. The Belted Galloway is not everywhere to be seen even in these parts but there are a couple of herds nearby. I have been out photographing them and they are sometimes a little nervous to approach. They are mostly raised for their quality beef but they are sometimes milked or purchased as a novelty.


For those that wish to delve deeper into these things, The Dun and Belted Galloway Association was formed in Scotland in 1921, and this became the Belted Galloway Society in 1951. The Society also oversees the registration of White and Red Galloways. Pictured above is a painted wooden “Beltie” of mine from a few years ago. These were cut and painted and used for decorative planters or free standing decorative pieces.


One local breeder also keeps Highland Cattle on his farm, the breed most frequently associated with Scotland. Their familiar long horns and thick wavy coats make them very popular with photographers and tourists. This breed was developed in the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland and has since been exported around the world. Highlands are a hardy breed suited to the rugged nature of the Scottish Highlands where they must cope with high rainfall and strong winds. Their long hair provides protection during even the coldest winters and they are also adept at surviving in steep mountainous regions. survive in steep mountain areas. Highland cattle produce beef at a reasonable gross margin from land that would be unsuitable for other breeds.


The two Highlands that I came closest to seemed very docile but it may have been that they were expecting supper to arrive! I took the time to study and photograph them from different angles and will be returning to see if I can find the rest of the herd. I hope to begin with some charcoal or pastel sketches and will decide later whether to progress to a painting or even a sculpture. I have previously worked with clay for figurative work and think cattle would be an interesting challenge. I previously came across Highland Cattle on the Isle of Skye and made a pastel head study. I previously came across Highland Cattle on the Isle of Skye and created a three-dimensional decorative piece (pictured below). Their wild and woolly appearance made them an ideal subject for a similarly rough style of working.


I shall be uploading images from my project on the ecoarts website and also on a special gallery set up on Bigvyor. If you have still not visited the site, I urge you to do so and take advantage of the free services including gallery and sales space. What have you got to lose? If you wish to contact me regarding my blog please email me at

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