Cash (sheep) | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 40in x 60in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a bit of an animal lover. In addition to painting them as my chosen career, I like to do my small part by helping those who help animals, specifically animal welfare organizations like Farm Sanctuary and The Humane Society of the United States.*
So in honor of the 2015 Year of the Sheep, the latest painting is portrait of a handsome Farm Sanctuary resident in New York named “Cash.”
I’ve painted three smaller goat portraits for Farm Sanctuary, but this is my first sheep resident. He’s also almost life-size at 40 x 60 inches…
My intent was to donate Cash directly to FS for fund raising purposes, or even auctioning the piece off myself (with all proceeds going directly to FS). But now we are putting our heads together and other fun ideas are percolating!
So if you’d like to help a great cause, and are interested in purchasing this piece for your home, please email me directly and I’ll personally put you on the list for info as it becomes available.
I personally think it would look fantastic at the end of a hall, or even in an entry way, such as this beautiful space designed by Cynthia Collins in Dallas (pic is just a fun mock-up for size).
“Cash” holding court in a beautiful entryway.
Until the next painting, thanks as always for reading. For more information on Farm Sanctuary please click here. For the HSUS click here.
*This year I’m donating a good portion of each sale to animal welfare organizations—the ones I love, or the ones you love. If you have bare walls, appreciate original art, and love animals, I’d love to hear from you.
I’ll admit it: being mentioned in the press makes me more giddy than finding free parking in LA. So big thanks to our local beach cities paper, The Beach Reporter, for printing a nice little piece on my work last week!
I restrained myself and only grabbed 5 copies at the local Starbucks…
The Bighorn and my teenie tiny likeness even made the cover…
The Beach Reporter – cover page
If you don’t live in the area, you can check out the online version by clicking here.
Thanks for reading,
Highland Cow (2015) | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 48in x 60in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
QUESTION: If the eyes are the window to the soul, how do you paint a soulful portrait of an eyeless cow?
ANSWER: [Sound of crickets…]
I’ve been dying to paint a Scottish highland cow (or “Heeland Coo,” as they’re called in Scotland), for over four years. Technically speaking, they’re not eyeless. But I want my subjects to emote, so animals whose eyes are hidden beneath extensive fur pose a challenge. And much like the Otter, I’d have to find a way to make it at least as dramatic as it was cute, else it might come across as a stuffed animal.
Then I heard myself wondering how a painting might come across, and recognized it for what it was: the Kiss of Death for an artist. That thought, or concern, is truly one of the worst creativity killers I can think of. It also leads to mediocre work. Which is one of the scariest things I can think of.
So, newly fueled by the fear of mediocrity, I dug up a great photo I had tucked away (taken by Gail Johnson of her aunt and uncle’s cow) and got to work.
In the studio with Highland Cow (2015) | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 48in x 60in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
I’m happy about the way Highland Cow turned out, and I learned a few lessons in the process.
First, I was reminded that it’s crucial for me to question the low but familiar din of worry in my brain, as it pertains to what I paint and how I paint it. I often forget how sneaky and incessant all that background noise is. Being able to notice those auto-thoughts—and deciding to ignore a few here and there—is really important to my work and growing as an artist.
Highland Cow – nose detail | aimeehoover.com
Second, it turns out I can goad myself into painting just about anything by telling myself it’s a “just a study.” This tactic works because it takes the pressure off creating a M-A-S-T-E-R-P-I-E-C-E (add an echo and that’s how it sounds in my head) every time I step up to the easel. It frees me up to have fun with it. And by fun I mean keeping the painting loose and more immediate, which is exactly how I want to paint.
Highland Cow – leg detail | aimeehoover.com
And third, I can remind myself that the impact or weight of a painting is not 100% based on its subject by simply looking at other artists’ work. Dramatic lighting, interesting perspectives, composition, and color all play a part. Which means that even animals who look like stuffed animals have the potential to make strong subjects.
Highland Cow – face detail | aimeehoover.com
Of course, I think we can agree that some subjects are best left as photos to coo over…
And really, what kind of artist would paint a stuffed animal anyhow (say, in 1997)?
Until the next painting (a sheep for farmsanctuary.org), thanks for reading.
Young Baboon (2015) | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 48in x 60in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
Young Baboon is my first primate portrait. But before I get into all that, I have a confession to make…
I’m not fond of monkeys.
I’m a huge animal lover—I even like snakes and other fur-challenged fauna. But when it comes to monkeys, I’m cursed with the memories (and accompanying maturity level) of a six year-old who experienced an unfortunate introduction to primates during a zoo visit. Which basically means that all I can think of is them…excuse me for being indelicate here…hurling their own poop.
Intellectually I realize they are incredibly intelligent and soulful creatures. So I’ve tried reframing my thoughts by creating new experiences with monkeys. So far those experiences consist of them using me as a jungle gym…
Me and a rambunctious capuchin in 2007
So choosing a baboon to paint, of all animals, is evidence of a few positive things:
1.) Continuing my 2015 commitment to stretch myself as an artist
2.) How incredibly inspiring the photo I worked from was
3.) Me finally turning the corner on my immature monkey aversion
As an animal portrait artist, I have not painted anything remotely close to a human in a very, very long time. In that regard, the baboon was a challenging piece. But baboon eyes are so remarkable and intense, I have to admit that may be a little hooked now. And for that I thank photographer, Tambako The Jaguar who snapped the reference photo that initially provoked my interest.
Studio shot of Young Baboon
View of from the studio couch
My guess is that this is not my last primate portrait. Though I think I’m done with letting capuchin monkeys crawl all over me. I prefer tiger cubs do that…
Until the next portrait, thanks so much for reading…
Spectacled Bear (Jukumari) (2015) | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 54in x 52in | Acrylic on stretched canvas
I’m very excited to share my first bear portrait. I’ve wanted to paint a species of bear (turns out there are 8) for a few years now. After a little research, I discovered—and fell in love with—the South American Spectacled Bear.
On a sheer aesthetic level, the golden markings around its eyes are just beautiful and make for nice contrast against it’s dark fur.
But what’s interesting about this particular animal goes beyond it’s beauty. Even though the spectacled bear is technically the largest land-dwelling carnivore in all of South America, only about five percent of its diet is actually meat. So you could say it’s more vegetarian than carnivore. Its also the last remaining species of short-faced bears in the world, with a conservation status classified as “Vulnerable.” Which happens to make Spectacled Bear my first “threatened” animal subject.
Spectacle Bear in the studio
The original reference photo I worked from was taken by the talented Tambako the Jaguar, who was also the inspiration behind Otter, my first painting of 2015.
I have a hunch more bears are to come so stay tuned for an additional species or two.
Until the next painting, thanks as always for reading,
(*This entire paragraph is brought to you by Wikipedia.)
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