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My Cowboy

This drawing truly holds a special place in my heart because it was my very first commissioned piece of art.


 

Backstory:

I went from a gnarly two month lockdown in France, to fleeing the country, to crossing closed borders into Luxembourg, to jumping seas into California.

I was so happy to finally be home, but had also just come hot off of this massive drawing kick during my time in Luxembourg. Just 24 hours before, I had sprayed the final layer of fixative on the completed "Kaligayahan" and "Chief" to be hung up in a Luxembourg framing shop!


I didn't want to miss a beat.


Since I chose to be home for the entire summer, the time became the perfect opportunity to really practice and see where it could go.


I decided to continue with the monochromatic theme as I was really starting to find my niche in the craft.

After finding a version similar to this depiction online, I took the design on for myself as a way to practice mixed fabrics and skin texture. I also wanted to continue the concept of adding a touch of color to a monochromatic piece (drawing inspiration from "Den Denker" )

 


 

Brainstorm:

What I loved most about creating this profile, was how interactive the process became with the client. I was really lucky because she saw the early stages of when I was forming the piece, and immediately knew where she wanted to go with it! In collaboration, we talked about adding details like a puff of smoke layered over the cowboy, and placing a glow within the hands to show the light of the flame. I remember seeing her face light up when we talked about adding accents of vibrant color to the bud of the cigarette to really make it pop. Witnessing her excitement for what was to come was already so fulfilling for me.



Evolution:

Initially the joint was drawn as a cigarette. The client looked at it with a smile on her face and followed with a request that I'll never forget.

I love this, but can you make it look a little more doobie!?

This is what I LOVE about collaborating! When you're excited about one thing, and then your counterpart elevates that idea to a whole new level, the good vibrations are just beaming off the chart!

Her idea was brilliant.


Even though it was a small prop change, the second the idea was brought to life, the entire personality of the drawing was established. The focal point was always the cigarette now joint. So the transformation of straight lines of a cigarette into free lines of a wonky, rolled up joint, allowed me to all of a sudden see the entire finished work on paper. My mind took off racing and I knew exactly what I was going to do:

I envisioned the cowboy wearing a leather vest with a plain-sleeved, plaid shirt underneath. I wanted the cowboy to have a classic cowboy feel; rough and tumble. You know, like the kinds you see in the Ford truck commercials, or in the old Clint Eastwood country western movies!

 

Details in the Hands:

The story of this rugged cowboy was told all in the hands. I wanted to capture the dirt on the fingernails and the sun damage to the skin. I wanted to push the rough lifestyle onto the viewer as if they were sitting in front of a real life cowboy who was taking a break from loading the truck in front of his barn.


 

Wood:

The wood background turned out to be a pretty fun learning experience.


Initially, the cowboy was going to be displayed in front of a plane white background. One day when we had just come back from a weekend up in Tahoe, I was finishing up the final touches for "My Cowboy" when images of the cabin walls popped up in my head.


I love that the markings on wood act as tattoos over their hundreds of years of existence. I thought that the durability of the wood tied in pretty well to the cowboy's theme of authenticity.


After googling a quick "How- to" on drawing wood grain, I did a test run on a scratch piece of paper. When I put it up next to the cowboy, my mind was convinced. It belonged as the background.


 

Clothing: Drawing leather was another field that I was rather unfamiliar with. To accomplish the smooth affect of the leather vest, I had to get a lot o charcoal on the paper. By coating the charcoal on top of each other, I was able to get a smooth finish because I no longer was drawing on the grains of the paper. It was charcoal on charcoal through and through.


Now to fully complete the leather look, I then had to Erase said charcoal layers in specific areas to show the highlights of the vest. Since real- life leather is quite durable and doesn't get too many folds, I only added some rightful folds in the outer edges near the lifted arms. To accent the stitching, I went in with a sharp charcoal pencil and drew in the lines of the seams.



 

Hat:

Like the shield in "The Protector," what seems to be the most straight forward part of the piece happens to give me the most difficulty. The cowboy's hat went through more revisions than any other element of this drawing. I wanted to make sure that it didn't look too much like a big ol' sun hat. However, the more detail I put into it, the more focus was pulled away from the doobie and the hands. On the flip side, the less dirt and marks that I put down, the more blocky the hat looked; it was taking over the composition. So finding the sweet spot was a bit of a test. I figured that the best way to depict the right amount of dirt was to get charcoal on the paper, smooth it out, wrinkle up a dry paper towel and just hit the drawing out of frustration. Oddly, this technique got me exactly what I wanted.

Maybe it's my turn to make a "How-To" video.


Time- Lapse:



Dowd Creatives Signature:

As part of my signature, I include coordinates of the location in which that specific piece was created in.

The idea came as I was traveling so much and had painted and drawn in multiple parts of the world. I wanted this nomad component to be a part of the piece's story. As “My Cowboy" was created in California, its respective coordinates act as a footprint in its creation.



*Custom pieces are available upon request*


Customized handcrafted frames and glass covers are also available upon request for additional purchase. Please visit the Contact page at the top of this site to reach for inquiries.






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