Two on Two
20" x 24" oil on canvas
This is the first in my series of Ranch Rodeo paintings
In September I went to the Woodlands Ranch Rodeo competition. There is just nothing like a small town rodeo! The smiling friendly people, the smells and sounds, there is a feeling of friendliness and moments of extreme excitement. I was standing against the fence when the scene in this painting took place. I just had to paint it.
The colour scheme is basically an analogous (yellow/green, yellow, orange/brown) with a double complement (a touch of dark blue and light purple)
Every shape and line is on a diagonal to give the image as much movement and excitement as possible.
The front of the rope is parallel with the front steer's horns and the back of the rope is parallel with the back steer's horns. The parallels also help to give an edge to the dynamics.
I was temped to move the horse and rider and two steers more to the viewer's right. But decided that would take out some of the edginess. That meant adding the background steers on the right to stop the feeling of the horse tipping right out of the painting. Plus this put the yellow shirt in the choice position for the main subject and the front steers head in the second choice position.
The old masters often left the bottom tenth of the painting dark togive a foundation to the work, but I wanted a more intimate feeling and the light foreground gives the steers a place to move into.
I was so tempted to make the background more realistic and detailed, but with so much happening with the subjects, I simply couldn't add another detail anywhere without it being overwhelming. But I did use color and value in the background to add more diagonals to the painting.
I debated changing the colour of the yellow shirt, to a cooler colour to move the cowboy back behind the horse. But at any second the cowboy will stand in his stirrups and throw the rope almost leaning over his horse's head. I decided the yellow gives more of a feeling of coming forwards - an anticipation of movement.
It would have been fun to have the background cattle taking off in all directions, but in the Ranch Rodeo it is important to not upset the rest of the herd, so I had to have them relatively quiet.
Normally I would have blurred the horse's back foot or hidden it in the dust. But I left the one back foot clear so we know the horse isn't going to slide out and will be able to adjust to a new angle.
Yes the steer did cut in front of the horse, the horse made the adjustment in direction and the roper caught the steer.
As final note: I do often paint and draw from life, something I think is extremely important for an artist, but for action and often commission paintings I rely on my photos. Plus there just is not room in my studio for two steers, a horse and a guy swinging a rope ;)