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A New Forest Cattle Drive

Back in October 2018 I was asked by a commoner friend if he could commission an unusual oil painting. He has a large herd of cattle which run on the New Forest that had to come in for TB testing. This meant driving the cattle back to his farm across the open forest with horses. I leapt at the chance, although cattle drifts are not uncommon, it is very rare to see quite so many cattle being driven across open forest and to have advanced knowledge of the route was a great opportunity for a painting which really couldn’t be missed

Photos of the drive

The view was to be from from a vantage point near Burley overlooking the valley and the disused railway line at Holmsley Passage. We knew this should work well as the cattle would string out along the valley making a fantastic spectacle. The building is an old railway cottage which has been rebuilt and modernised over the years.

To make the picture even more challenging to paint, the cows had to be his and there were certain easily identifiable favourite individuals which had to show clearly. So even with the small size on the canvas, the markings and size had to be correct.

Driving the herd were 5 riders including my husband on his horse Star and my husband’s cousin, riding my horse Rion.

Preliminary Sketches

In this post I have included the preparatory drawing, a few detail sketches and the finished piece along with some close ups. It did take a few months to complete, but I must admit that we were very happy with the result.

Early Stages of the Painting

As this was a personal commission, prints are not available I’m afraid but I hope you find it interesting.

Close Ups of the Finished Painting

The Finished Painting

A new forest cattle drift painting at Holmsley Passage near Burley