A Glimpse Under The Trenchcoat: 1st Edition

So you want to know how I came up with the Sheep idea? Well, it all began like this:

“there once was a blank canvas on my easel, and some paint and paint brushes nearby”

…pretty much each and every one of my paintings begins like that. What happens when those things get together with my thought processes takes the story in a whole different direction, though.

Many times, before I even unwrap the canvas, I have a general idea of either a message I want to impart, a pun or phrase I think the Sheep Incognito would be good at interpreting, an image I would like to try creating, or, sometimes, I simply feel like flinging paint around.

To explain that a bit better, I think it’s best to go sheep by sheep to give you some insight into the process and inner workings of my artistic mind. I hope you brought a good flashlight along – it’s a dark place in there…

Today’s “Under the Trenchcoat” victim: DANCES WITH WOOLS

This painting began with a conversation between a longtime artist friend, her son who makes oil paints, and myself, who is always on the lookout for good or better materials. I was offered the opportunity to give his new line of hand-crafted oils a try on one of my new paintings – so of course I jumped right in. He had given me a small set of oils – almost none of them my usual color set. So it would be challenging to create the usual vibrancy in the painting without the use of my normal palette.


With no title in mind, I just wanted to paint the essence of happiness, contentment, and exuberance, touched with a bit of childlike innocence. So a dancing sheep, engrossed in the moment and movement – carefree and lighthearted – was just the thing. I finished the initial sketch of the sheep – then realized that without a reason to be dancing, she would look just a bit out of context, and it was not clear WHY the sheep was happy. There are all kinds of things that make all kinds of people (or sheep) happy – but since we were heading to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, there really was only one thing that could be danced with in this painting: Yarn! It is what knitters crave, crocheters seek out, spinners fantasize over, and dyers get heart flutters about.

The new oils turned out to be luscious and easy to work with – lighter than my usual paints. The blue was just right, and for the skin tones, these new paints worked better than what I usually opt for. The only issue popped up trying to paint the red yarn and the red flowers – to keep with my usual color scheme for knitting images in recent times, I needed to add some cad light red to make things “zing!”.


As I was painting the yarn, I was also desperately trying to come up with a title – “doing the happy dance” or “springy flingy thingy” just didn’t seem to groove with this one…It needed something that connects to the real world, or at least makes it recognizeable. At which point the title “Dances with Wools” was born – it sounds and looks a lot like a familiar movie title, but brings it into the world of Sheep Incognito, where things are questioned, re-interpreted in a sheepish way, or re-purposed to fit the sheeps’ view of the world around us.

DANCES WITH WOOLS has quite rapidly become a new favorite among my knitting and fiber world friends… so if you want to join that hype, you can order prints of it by clicking here to purchase

If you have questions about the process involved, colors used, etc., just drop me a line in the comments section.