The Nguni cow’s portrait


Nguni Portrait – Ink on paper, A3 200gsm.

I had the opportunity recently to paint cows again for a commissioned ink work, which is now in its home in Hermanus enjoying the ocean air.

Some notes on the process:

  1. A fairly rough sketch in 5B pencil on some paper to warm up and have a better look at the image – hey bingo, a separate artwork (below).
  2. Plot the basic lines in 2H pencil on the A3 paper using a light box (read: my window) and the reference image for proportion accuracies.
  3. Ink time! Start with large areas of washes in very watered down ink where the darkest areas/shadows lie in the image.
  4. Work on layers, painting smaller areas but darker shades, building up the details.
  5. Work
  6. Work
  7. Work
  8. Use your finest paintbrush, add the detailed finishing lines, like lashes and stray hairs.
  9. Sign.
  10. Hey pesto. Nguni portrait done 🙂

Practice sketch



All images are © Amy Slatem.


2012 (2nd semester)

Final art work. Oils on canvas (30x40 inches)

Final art work. Oils on canvas (30×40 inches)

This is a recent advert for DSTV, with the caption “When some things are more important than rugby”.

Les Infideles (“The Players”) 30×40 inches oil on canvas

“It’ll blow your mind away” (caption from a Burger King print advert). 40×30 inch oil on canvas
THE PORTRAYALS OF WOMEN IN CONTEMPORARY MEDIAThis is my current (23 July – 8 Nov 2012) extended body of art works based on the portrayals of women in contemporary media and advertisements.

Each work is based on a real and published contemporary commercial or printed advert with the caption/punchline inserted to highlight  and satirize the portrayal of women in media today.

In every instant where a female is featured, they are replaced with that of a cow: the animal bred for either meat (which symbolises the objectification and sexualisation of women) or on the other hand, for reproduction (which speaks back to how women are pictured in the kitchen and perpetuate women’s naturalised motherly role).

This series of oil paintings (comprising of the few large 30×40 inch oil paintings on canvas and the many smaller +-14x15cm oils on fabriano paper) aims to highlight and draw attention to the manner of representing women in common everyday media and how they perpetuate gender roles and objectification. The substitution of the cow figures helps add absurdity and humour.