Sunday, 8 May 2016

Mother Earth...a Highland cow and her wee calf


Highland Cow+Highland calf+Mother Earth+Impressionism+Northern Lights+Aurora Borealis+Scottish Art+Nicola McLean
'Mother Earth' - acrylic on canvas 76cm x 50cm (approx 30 x 20 inches)

I decided to call this painting 'Mother Earth' because cows are wonderfully nurturing and protective mothers. Although this isn't technically one of my spirit animal paintings, I decided to look up what a cow represents and strangely (as I'd already decided on the title at this point) this is what it said:

'In many cultures animal symbolism of the cow is married to the concept of Mother Earth and has been linked to the symbols of fertility, nurturing and power for centuries.' So, seems I chose well!

highland cows+Scotland+Highlands+Northern Lights+Mother Earth+Impressionism+Nicola McLean

Today is Mother's Day in Australia and the USA. I'm not sure why they observe a different date to the UK so I did a little bit of Googling and found out that the American version of Mother's Day was created by a woman called Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official American holiday in 1914. Anna Jarvis later denounced the day's commericalisation and spent her later years trying to remove it from the calendar. 

Highland cow and highland calf+Aurora Borealis+Northern Lights+Impressionism+Scottish Art+Nicola McLean

Celebrating motherhood and mothers can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome where they held festivals in honour of mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele but the most recent link is the early Christian festival of Mothering Sunday - this was once a major tradition in the UK and Europe and fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful flock would return to their 'mother church' - the church closest to their home - for a special service. Over time it became more secular (probably once big business saw a way to exploit it) and it became a day instead when people buy their mums cards, presents and flowers to remind them they are loved.

Detail shot

Why am I talking about this, you may ask? Well, this painting depicts a mother and her child and I thought it was appropriate to remember that it isn't only humans who are mothers and who have children that they love. Cows form very strong bonds with their calves but unfortunately because they are generally seen as units of production, rather than the sentient creatures they are, when it comes to dairy farming they have their calves taken away from them, often within 24 hours, so that the milk isn't 'wasted' on them when it could instead be sold to humans. 


Beef cattle, like these Highland cows, are a little bit luckier in the parenthood stakes as they get to keep their calves with them to wean naturally over a few months rather than mere days and get to enjoy the close bond they form with their calf more in the way nature intended. At least for a little while (bearing in mind that the 'highest quality beef' apparently comes from animals under 36 months). Food for thought.

Highland cow and highland calf+Aurora Borealis+Northern Lights+Impressionism+Scottish Art+Nicola McLean

Thank you to local photographer, Gavin Paul Bird, who very kindly gave me permission to paint from a beautiful photo he'd taken of this mother and her calf. I simply removed the horrible yellow tags from the calf's ears and added the northern lights!


These larger paintings are so difficult to photograph. The paint has a lovely sheen which is great but not so much when it creates a glare no matter what angle you try to snap. I've tried to show the colours as accurately as possible but none of these photos really do them justice and they seem to change with each one.

Hard at work on a beautiful sunny day!

Anyway, sorry for the post going on a bit of a vegan rant but it breaks my heart to think of how we treat these beautiful creatures and hearing a cow bellowing for her calf is one of the most hauntingly sad sounds you'll ever hear. 

highland calf+close up texture painting+Nicola McLean


Right, I'll finish on a lighter note. Normally when we're driving past a field with cows I'll say 'aw look at that wee calf' and S will inevitably say 'I could do with one of those' to which I'll roll my eyes and sigh and say 'what?' knowing full well what's coming and he'll say 'A week off'(a wee calf/week aff?! - perhaps only works when said in a Scottish accent!) Ah, the hours fly by!

18 comments:

  1. oh this is lovely,, its beautiful,,
    I posted on face book an image of how cows milk is for baby cows, it has always bothered me how calves are taken from their mothers and worse yet how baby calves are butchered for their young meat,, it an injustice. so very sad, I hate to think about it,

    ReplyDelete
  2. Such a sweet and beautiful painting, love those skies that you paint, each one is more beautiful than the other. It's so sad and infuriating the way we humans treat animals, I always feel they know and feel much more than we think ...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just when I think you can't get better... along comes this!! It's heart warming Nic! What a beautiful painting... I Love it! Whilst I couldn't ever be a Vegan, I do hear what you are saying about the way they are taken from their Mums like that. Awful. I suppose it's up to us to choose where we buy our products from more carefully. For example, I've never bought a battery egg in my life, even before I became a vegetarian. And if I knew of a milk that was sourced from cows who have still been allowed to feed their calves, I certainly would do so. It's heart breaking hearing that sound isn't it? We have a farm nearby and I know exactly what sound you mean! I think people are becoming more aware and hopefully things will get better over time. I know it's all about money, but I believe it'll be the clever farmer who rears everything in the kindest way who will eventually earn the most as people become more demanding of it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. another beautiful, beautiful painting Nic. I can completely understand your thoughts about animals. So glad you didn't add the tags on the cows.
    And I can just hear hubby's joke with a Scottish accent:):)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fantastic pintinf, love all the details and texture. Happy PPF, hugs, Valerie

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oooh, gorgeous paintings. Very impressive.
    Happy PPF xx

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sooo beautiful. Also a really interesting read. My unhappiness with the dairy industry led to my giving up of milk many years ago and since my vegan January I have become weekday vegan. That seems to pacify my soul and means chocolate is at some point possible. Love your wonderful new studio...It is so bright!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm speechless. What a wonderful dreamy painting. Love it so much!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh yes I get the Scottish joke and can imagine the accent I love so much! Your work is amazing Nic, wow, those northern lights are striking! I can feel such space, tenderness and magic looking at this! It's a very special piece!
    Oh and your work space is fabulous too, filled with light and that great big window right in front, how wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  10. the good old wee calf line... an oldy but a goody... and I love seeing your work being done in that gorgeous space you have now. it is magical to have a light and airy place to paint, even if it did get a bit hot this week. Mind you I think our middle of winter is possibly a warm day for you. This is quite a haunting image I think Nic... even before what I read, and when you read your discussion, and then stop and think it really does have something to add to the conversation on how we view food... plus the painting really is quite beautiful!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I smiled at your week off comment, Nic. The mother cow and her calf are so beautiful. The whole piece is so well balanced by the addition of the Northern Lights (which I have never seen). Gorgeous piece.

    ReplyDelete
  12. alot thrown into this post to think about... I am not vegan but I don't drink milk anymore.. i love potato milk and coconut milk and rice milk instead. I can't seem to give up cheese though. lovely sentiment about the animals and about mothers. and it is a really wonderful painting. plus I love a scottish accent so it would be great to HEAR that joke!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow, such exquisite detail! Your use of color is stunning. This painting is gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  14. A fantastic painting Nic... it's exquisite with the Northern Lights and so much amazing talent to include all of those colours.
    A poignant post too. Lot's to think about here, but the little wee joke at the end was a brilliant lift to the mood. I adore your art space. It's a pity S's jokes don't match up to his talent for building such amazing spaces (hehe)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love your post and the painting. Would love to hear that in a Scottish accent.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beautiful tribute to natures mothers everywhere! So sad how the most vulnerable are treated! Stunning work of art with your style stamp all over it!! Love your passion!

    Hugs Giggles

    ReplyDelete
  17. A lovely mother's day tribute. A lovely painting. Mother's day here is very commercial. Don't try and get a restaurant reservation that day!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Your painting is stunning. I love the simple yet dramatic composition and the colors you chose adds to the drama. It is so difficult to think of the ways humans abuse the animal kingdom. You wrote elegantly on the subject. What a meaningful positing this week.

    ReplyDelete

Your comments always colour me happy! Thank you for popping by.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...