Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Desert Bighorn Sheep, Oil Painting by Theresa Paden

"Desert Bighorn Sheep" 
by Theresa Paden
16" X 20" Oil on canvas

10% of the proceeds from the sale of this painting will
go to the National Wildlife Federation

Sadly, these magnificent animals are endangered.
There were between 1.5 million to 2 million
bighorn sheep in North America
t the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Today, there are less than 70,000.

To learn more about Bighorn Sheep, go to

Below are the stages of my painting as it progressed.

Now I continue to define the structure of the face, horns, and neck, making sure to keep in mind where the light source is.

The next step is to add some of the darkest darks and lightest lights, so I can use them to gauge the other values that I will be adding as I paint. This is why I develop the face so early on in the painting, because the eyes and mouth will usually have some of the darkest values.

After I transfer my drawing to the canvas, I begin blocking in basic structure, values, and colors.
I am constantly learning, and creating art is all about growth, but with each animal I draw and paint, I gain more experience.
I spend a lot of time working on the drawing before I transfer it to the canvas. To me, the anatomy is the most important part of a painting. It's the structure on which everything else in the painting hinges. If the anatomy of an animal is inaccurate, all the beautiful brush strokes and colors that are applied later don't matter because viewers and art collectors can sense that something is wrong with the basic structure of the animal, even if they can't pin-point exactly what is off. This is especially true with horse paintings. So I do a lot of research on the skeletal and muscular aspects of the subject and try to get the anatomy as close to correct as I can. As I said, I learn a little more with each animal I draw. When I paint horses, I will often stop painting and go out to feel my horse's head, legs, or torso so I can know where the bones, tendons, and muscles actually are. She loves the attention, too!


  1. Great work! A majestic subject.

  2. Thanks, Jack. I agree that they are majestic animals.

  3. Thanks for your comment on my flowers Theresa. I have been following your animal postings, love the progression pictures. I really find them so helpful, seeing how others work is good for me (since I am self taught and need instruction) I also volunteer at a Mustang rescue here in Maine, so happy to see your horse painting and donation. I am helping the owner with fundraising, not easy!! Kudos to you!