Many of my painting ideas come from a scene that stops me, that makes me think and want to express. This painting began as I watched my own horses emerging from a heavy fog. They were covered with frost, like ghosts in hazy light. It made me think of how animals endure. They simply endure whatever is thrown their way as a matter of fact.
Itʼs an admirable trait compared to us noisy humans. So I eliminated people for telling the story. I was leaning heavily toward the horse as that was the reality of what I saw, but then thought of the animal I truly admire the most for resisting the ages and still just carrying on with no thought of the loss of the way it once was: The American bison that westerners like me simply call buffalo.
He needed to be proud, alone and somehow timeless. I began with this initial sketch of my vision.
[Click images for enlarged view.]
During the second painting session, I mostly wanted to establish mood, get my fog patterns lined out. I visualized the scene with the sun trying to break through the swirling fog, with steam lifting from the nearby creek as well off the striding animal.
Everything is still subject to change if I donʼt like my choices--but so far so good. I did add a little more color to the bison so Iʼd have something to layer on, but at this point he is not my focus.
Third session brings full attention to the bison, correcting sketch errors and defining his frost covered body. Not worrying about detail but making sure what paint I put down is carefully placed and getting the steam rolling off his body.
I notice a few more adjustments that need to be made to the shape and will make those next. But I am happy with how heʼs telling my story. One more session will do the fine tuning. I start asking my Facebook followers to help title him.
Final session on this painting now titled “Prairie Frost,” thanks to all the many suggestions from my followers!
He needed some grounding as he is a monster of a beast. I added an indication of plants in the frosty ground and enriched the shadow areas more, emphasizing the golden glow of the sun trying to break through. More paint also was needed for the highlights around the bullʼs face.
I am happy with the results and look forward to sharing him at Windows to the West.
"Prairie Frost" is one of five works in oil that Mia DeLode will show at the Windows to the West Art Show and Sale. This wildlife painting and her other four works for the show, along with their specifications and prices, can be viewed in her artist profile.