In Wisconsin the weather changes daily. This week is a good example. It was 60 degrees on Wednesday and on Thursday we got over an inch of snow. Crazy right? People were wearing shorts and flip flops then expected to put their winter parkas back on. I’ve notice that for some, once the shorts come out they don’t go back in the drawer. If it is at least 40 degrees it’s time for shorts until Thanksgiving!!!
Not me. I’ve always been more cold blooded. I recall it snowing on my birthday which is in the middle of May. That was kind of a bummer. The unpredictability of weather here does get frustrating at times, but you get use to it. Let me point out that “getting use to it” does not apply to driving in it. Every first snowfall people still forget how to drive. Let me just say this…”we do not use our cruise control when it is snowing – never!” I know some won’t remember.
Anyway I had to stop thinking snow and start thinking spring. My absolute favorite time of year. So these adorable baby ducks caught my eye. I told myself they will be my next painting. The original photo was taken by #stillwaterranchmontana a company I follow on Instagram. They gave me permission to paint from their photos. ❤️❤️❤️
These baby ducks are a cross between Kahki Campbell and Blue Swedish. All I know is they are adorable with the cutest web feet that are black with orange tinted flesh between the toes. ❤️
So spring is coming I’m sure of it even though right now it is snowing. 😎
I paint a lot of sheep. There is a reason. There is a story. Isn’t there always a story?
I’m not sure I can make this story brief. Seems like it loses some of its sparkle if I try. I really don’t want to tell you a dull and boring story. Since this story is about sheep I’m already at risk of putting you to sleep. So I’ll try my best not to make this a bedtime tale but a kinda, sorta of an adventure.
It starts at my grandma’s house. She had a huge two story, five bedroom farmhouse. It was once my grandfather’s childhood home. He was the baby of the family and the last to get married. He had inherited the house. He was an apple farmer with acres and acres of apple trees. He grew up in Hales Corners, Wisconsin which is anything but rural now. But back then there was land to buy and opportunities to be had. His parents came here from Czechoslovakia. I don’t know why and I never asked him questions. Typical kid. I so loved that house.
There were outbuildings that had bushels of apples ready to be sold. My grandma made some amazing apple desserts that I totally lost my mind over. She could do anything with apples including the cores. Remember red pickled apples? Yum.
As a kid I loved playing on the staircase in that house. Probably because I thought stairs were cool. I was a kid that grew up in a mobile home so anything that wasn’t in my home was pretty neat. The staircase was not straight but turned halfway up. It had a big landing. It was there I played with my dolls and studied my environment. On the wall was a big picture of sheep. I counted and recounted the number of sheep in that painting never coming up with the same number twice. I spent many hours of my childhood on the floor beneath that painting.
I even challenged my cousins in how many sheep there were. The struggle was real. The count always seemed allusive to all of us. But still it was my favorite painting. One day grandma said she had something important to ask me. She was working on her will and wanted to know what I would like. I instantly said – the sheep picture!!!! Grandma said “you don’t want that”, but I did. “No you don’t. You need to think about this.” I never changed my mind.
My grandma always hoped I would be an art teacher one day. I had other dreams. Grandma said I would change my mind many times before I grew up. I never changed my mind with that either. I would one day become a Wisconsin State Trooper. Grandma lived to see me get my badge. ❤️
When my grandmother passed away it was at my house. It was Christmas Eve. It was one of the saddest times in my life. I never went back to her house. I didn’t know if grandma had left me that sheep painting, but she had. I did get heirlooms from my grandparents thanks to my mom. But the picture was more then just a picture to me.
The sheep painting traveled a great distance to end up with me. It hung on that wall at their house in the same spot my entire life. It reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of my grandparents and all that they taught me. I miss them. So Varla’s Blue “SHEEP” art represents a part of my past. One of my loves. To remember them I paint sheep. I paint a lot of sheep. Now why is my business called Varla’s “Blue” sheep art! That’s another story.
I’ve been wanting to paint a group of sheep. I wanted it to be a winter scene. I finally found the right photo and with her permission I started to paint. Seemed like I underestimated the number of legs and ears in this grouping. Each sheep four legs; each sheep two ears. Wait, I think I have two many ears! Did I miss a head?
It was fun and kind of silly at times. I started with a real good base drawing. That is the key to any good painting. A good drawing, then a close review and I started my first set of counting. I painted one or two sheep a day. Then I stopped. Is that one leg or two legs close together? Which sheep goes with these legs? Yikes my eyes were starting to jump. Maybe I need a friend’s help with this puzzle? No I got this. It’s not difficult. I lived on a farm once upon a time. I need to paint on!
So I’m painting sheep and more sheep. I’m coming to the end. I pause. They don’t look fluffy enough. Yes, sheep are considered fluffy but sometimes people say they are wooly. It’s the same thing. ❤️
Do I dare say this? Yes I’m done. They are looking at me like I’m looking at them. Seems like they heard something or maybe a really cute ewe in the neighboring field just caught their eye. 🐑. All I know for sure is I love painting sheep. Why? Well that’s another story for another day.
Thanks to Julie Leatherwood Creek Farms for granting permission to paint from her photograph.