The Cow and the Ox

It is now 2021 and according to the Far Eastern zodiac, it is the year of the Ox. Or is it the Cow? For the Chinese, it is the Ox, and as they are the forefathers of the zodiac I think it’s formally so. I myself come from Japan though and we, on the other hand, have always thought it as Cow. This is because the Chinese character for Ox is 牛 but in Japanese that would be Cow! Actually, it could also be Ox, as the two words seem to be synonymous to each there although they are clearly different in appearance. A lot of the Zodiac mascots in Japan in fact resemble cows in that black and white form rather than in brown. And now that got me started. Let’s just draw them together so there is no fighting between the two!

Sumie Ink Sketch

One evening I felt like chilling after a day or two of intensive mixed media work. My paint brushes needed a break and my table needed some tidying up, free from messy inks and paint. I then grabbed my bamboo pen and dipped it in Sumie charcoal ink, a small bottle of Kuretake ZIG Cartoonist Ink, and began sketching away on my Strathmore Visual Journal sketchbook for Watercolors. It was also a way to practice drawing my whimsical animals, as inspired by Juliette Crane, an artist of whom I am following lessons on-line. A great way to develop creative skills whilst sitting down and relaxing! So a cow and an ox standing next to each other enjoying the outdoors sun. I love making my animals stand on two feet instead of on all fours sometimes, as it makes the characters cute and fairy-tale like!

Sumie Ink Sketch

Coloring with Waterpaint

Once I was done with the sketching, I was not sure if I ought to proceed with coloring it in or just leave as was. It took me a few days before deciding to take the plunge. Logical choice of course was to go for watercolors! First I painted the background using my set of Winsor & Newton pans. I then came across my ceramic dish filled with patches of old dried watercolors which had remained from a previous painting. Not wanting to waste them, I reused the yellow for the horns and the sun. How resourceful is that!

My old dried paints continued to be used up until it was all gone. For instance, the cow and ox were filled in, respectively, with a very pale shade of grey (where it is supposed to be white) and brown. The house and flowers were also colored with the old paints. As for the rest, I thought it would be an idea to add some sparkles just for fun. A pan of Finetec Pearlescent watercolors were used for fine details like the animals’ collars, sun rays, plants and the cloud. This time I made the painting simple to enhance the animated look. And here it is!

I should do this kind of painting more often, especially as I enjoy practicing whimsical styles. Just simply drawing is also a wonderful way to relax and let your mind flow. Nothing is more satisfying than developing something kawaii based on fantasy and imagination. And now it’s so much fun watching the Cow and Ox play together, radiating positive vibes which we all need during these difficult times. Stay safe, everyone!

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