Cows. Cool ones. Cheeky ones. Jersey ones. Guernsey ones. Somerset cool ones. Jackie Spurrier paints them all… and she does it brilliantly! I went along to meet Jackie (and her lovely dogs) one sunny Friday morning, as she launched her new 'Cows on Canvas' studio at her home in Hinton St George.
Having spotted ‘Imp’ online (one of Jackie’s iconic cow paintings and her favourite cow, by the way) I was keen to discover a bit more about where her passion for painting these beautiful animals comes from - and to have a good nosey at some of the funky stuff she’s been creating!
And yes… all the cows she paints have names! Here’s Hannah and if Hannah hadn’t already been sold, I’d have probably sneaked out with her & popped her in the car!! :)
This is what caught our eye initially as it goes… the big, bold way Jackie paints. The angles; the expressions; the total fun of the cows! We’d love one on our wall… but enough about what we want on our walls!
Jackie started painting 14 years ago when she spotted some ‘moos’ at the end of a drove near where she lived back then, on the Levels (she always says ‘hello moos’ to the cows she passes - another thing we love about her, considering we call ducks ‘beakers’!). Anyway, she surprised herself by selling all her work during Somerset Art Weeks and she never really looked back.
For Jackie, cows were, and still are, the symbol of the countryside. She grew up in Somerset and her heart was always here even when the rest of her wasn’t... so it kind of makes sense to us that this is the animal she chose to focus on. As Jackie explained;
“It’s their soulful eyes, the way they position their head, the different aspects of their faces that are great to paint”
and back when she started out, it was just Jackie and artist John Marshall painting cows. Now, there’s quite a demand for them as it happens:
“There’s lots of mad people around like me, who love cows!” Jackie laughed. “They bring out different responses in people - reactions you might not be expecting”.
Believe it or not, one buyer who came to check out a painting he’d first seen online, couldn’t decide if it was scary in the flesh! Not sure what we’d have said to that if we were Jackie but she handled it beautifully, he bought the painting anyway and thankfully his wife loved it as it was her birthday present! That could’ve been awkward! :)
Possibly my favourite thing Jackie’s designed is this flipping wonderful tent, in honour of Glastonbury! It’s called ‘Glasto Cows’ & it’s available through Field Candy (the cow's name is Eavis of course!).
It really made me chuckle when Jackie explained that when it was made, she took a tent to Cadbury Castle, put it up in a field and waited to see what the local cows would make of it. They came up and started licking it... funny old moos!!
Anyway, if you want to see Jackie’s cow paintings close up (please don’t lick them ;)) she has an exhibition coming up in Anglesey in May and June. Some of her Cows on Canvas will be on show in the Seavington village store later this year and she’s also just agreed to do an exhibition in Somerton. She’ll be encouraging people to visit her home studio during Somerset Art Weeks and if you miss all of that, she'll be having an exhibition in the Art Tea Zen Café in Langport in October! Phew - that’s one busy cow painter! Follow Jackie on Twitter for more details at @cowsoncanvas
P.S. On the way back from Jackie’s, I actually got stuck behind a herd of cows and all I could think about was what they would’ve made of Jackie's Glasto tent! :)