How’s this for a dose of ‘Mad Cow Disease’ … well actually, theres nothing mad about it really as eccentric Brit artist John Marshall’s obsession with cows as his muse produces some rather great results.
John has spent the last decade deliberately restricting himself to just painting the humble cow.
Photographs are the first stage of the process where he looks to find a cow which engages with him in some way, so when he paints he can exaggerate the character and nature of his subject.
The 58-year-old’s East Sussex studio, which is ironically a former cows milking parlour, is where Marshall works on his paintings.
“If the cow is soft and nurturing that’s how I will paint it and if the cow is sort of angry and startled then I’ll try and treat it differently,” explains John Marshall.
“It’s the thing that is keeping them unique. It’s more of an emotional portrayal than a photographic one.”
Using a two-foot long brush, he marks out on the canvas where the light should be with black oil paint and turpentine.
The painting then evolves to its conclusion and Marshall says it is often the eyes and nose which are critical to ensure a connection with the audience.
Each painting can take up to several weeks and Marshall will work on others at the same time.
In the past 12 months, he has sold around 40 canvases, which can go on sale for up to 7,500 euros each, so again not quite mad but rather profitable too.
Despite his success as an artist, Marshall’s background is not in the fine arts. He started out working at a drawing restoration firm and was a civil servant for eight years but is now able top indulge in his passion for cattle portraits full time.
He’d go down a treat in a country such as India in South Asia where cows are revered as holy and respected in every region… the demand for ‘Holy Cow’ portraits here could be quite a niche market and maybe not looked at quite as strangely as it is elsewhere.
And who are we to judge… these paintings are actually very good and clearly John has found his creative calling in life; he certainly gets a (Cow) pat on his back from us for not being sheep-like and doing what makes him as happy as a cow, and all on his own terms too!!! (puns all intended!!!)