Have you seen any beautiful cows lately? If you know of artist Gary Sauder you can quickly answer, “Yes!” Gary’s detailed paintings make you feel as if you are actually there viewing the animal on the farm or over a fence. His chosen technique of super-realism reflects the pride he takes in accurate portrayals of the cattle who are his subjects. He goes beyond photographic to artistic and many clients feel that owning his work is very special. Alta Mae Core shares her experience. “We have had the privilege to work with Gary on several occasions. The first being a pencil drawing of our farm favorite KCJF Regency Treasure. Since then he has done numerous other paintings of several of our cows both past and present. I think his extraordinary talent stems from his knowledge and passion for ‘cows’ in general. When you combine that knowledge and passion with his god given gift, it is easy to see why his work is truly one of a kind.
From Farming to Framing
Gary Sauder grew up showing registered Jersey cows from a small farm in Sonoma Country, California. During his last 4-H year, he exhibited the Grand Champion Jersey at every show he entered, including the Jr. Grand National at the Cow Palace and the California State Fair. At the same shows, he was the dairy showmanship champion as well as the Round Robin Master Showmanship Champion. He earned the Paul Jackson Scholarship that same year. After college, Gary took a position caring for and exhibiting cattle for then, Meadow Glen Farms of Orland California. It was about this time that he made the exciting leap into the realm of painting.
A Love for All Things Bovine
Sauder’s work has been juried into many exhibitions. He is resident artist at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts. Gary loves capturing the beauty and character of the cows he paints but he has just as much passion and concern for the dairy breeders themselves and for the generations to come. While he finds it difficult to pick a favorite from his work he does rise to the challenge. “If I had to choose one it would be my painting “The Jersey Cow.” He explains his choice. “This painting was the culmination of my Jersey experiences throughout my life and brought into play elements of many of my favorite cows that I had seen and admired from afar, as well as having had the great fortune to work with. Cows like Generators Sweet Dreams, KCJF Regency Treasure, Huronia Centurion Veronica, Lloyn Jude Griffen, Generators Topsy, Generators Imp, and Sunset Canyon MBSB Anthem and cows like that. After that I like the painting I did of my own cattle entitled “Jersey Fields” and that is for purely sentimental reasons. The next few are all special and I like the newest one for Brady Core of “Ritzy” and I really like the painting of “Kit Kat” that I did for George Colpetzer.
Capturing the Ideal Bovine on Canvas
Gary is a perfectionist and renowned for his ultra-realistic portrayals that some people think are photos. “I take that as a compliment” he says and adds, “Even though I am not trying to create a photo, I am trying to show how I see and how I want to communicate to the viewer.” Of course his photos are not done in Photoshop – “I don’t get the Photoshop question” – but he goes on to explain. “I do use Photoshop myself in order to help build compositions and correct colors for reproduction and Internet promotion. It is a valuable tool and I use it as such.” Gary has produced five “ideal” cows in his artistic repertoire: Jersey; Holstein; Brown Swiss; Milking Shorthorn and Red & White.
Mentors From Both the Barn and the Gallery
Gary acknowledges that there are quite a few in the art world that have had an effect on him. “Most of them are from the wildlife/animal art world and they include Carl Brenders, Terry Isaac, Leslie Harrison and the great portrait artist Daniel E. Greene.” On the dairy side, Gary feels that it was his great good fortune to grow up around “some of the giants in the industry.” His list has many familiar names. “Local dairymen such as Henry Lafranchi, George, Tom and Marvin Nunes, Jim Pappas, John McKitrick and Doug Maddox.” He goes on. “These men used to judge our local county fairs and, when there, I got to compete with Cheryl LaFranchi, Hank Van Excel and John Rowe.” He speaks with the enthusiasm of a true dairyman, “ I showed Jerseys and always admired the cattle that were shown against me and the ones that stood out where the cattle with the MG prefix that were bred by Harlan Askeland and of course the Stardust cattle. Our county Fair always put on quite an Open Jersey Show with such renowned breeders as Harlan Askeland, Bob Bignami, Jack Snell, Phil Nyberg and John Giacomini. If you wanted to learn about quality Jerseys, there was no better show to watch.” Gary obviously learned from these leaders as he reports, “Later I had the privilege of working with the Askeland-Bignami herd and got to work with some great cattle like Generators Sweet Dreams, MG Tradition Robyette, Empire Amelia Beacon, and MG Master MC Lou.” Sauder not only watched the cows he watched the competitors and he shares this interesting side note. “During the last couple of years that I showed as a junior I kept noticing and talking to a very energetic and quite enthusiastic young exhibitor who seemed to know more about Jerseys, breeders and pedigrees than anyone in the barns. It is no surprise to me that he has grown up to be what I think is the most influential Jersey breeder of our time and I am talking about Eric Silva of Sunset Canyon Jerseys.”
Pencil, Police and Pastels
In looking back, Gary reports that he had been drawing as long as he could remember but says, “I had grown bored with drawing in graphite and hadn’t done it for a long time.” Then one movie changed everything. “I saw a movie about a sketch artist for the police and he was using colored pencils and I decided to find out more about them. I got some books on the medium and I conquered my fear of color and shortly thereafter I graduated to pastel and even water color and oils.” A momentous change and he confirms, “I enjoy them all but I prefer to paint in pastel.”
Facebook Extends the Artist’s Reach
No matter what career path you’re on, there are going to be changes. This has been true for Gary Sauder as well. “The biggest changes for me are two completely different things that came about at different times for me. The first was my discovery of coloured pencils and the second was the digital camera. The camera helps me not waste as much time and money on photographing my reference material.” But there are other tools that have made changes in Gary’s work. “Right now the two most profound things to affect my business are the new pastel product called Pan Pastel and the surface PastelMat and Facebook.” He is emphatic, “Without Facebook I would not be able to reach as many people as I do now and it really reaches my target audience.”
Passionate about Breeders, Breed Promotion and Paternity
Gary, like many artists, considers every finished painting an accomplishment. He modestly leaves it up to the viewer to determine if that is a great accomplishment or not. For himself he ranks “becoming a father last year” at the top of the list. This fits very nicely with his commitment to the future of the dairy industry. “I have donated a painting to the Ayrshire Junior Youth Fund and a really nice painting called “Generations” to the AJCA for their Jersey Youth Academy”. Gary is definitely putting the positive reaction to his work to a valuable purpose.
Having admired the honesty of his own mentors, Gary strives to be the same. “I have always believed in the honest cow and having showed and milked many of those kinds of cattle I have always thought that I could portray that quality in a painting. To that end I prefer to work from “casual” pictures taken by mew or a client and, if you look at my paintings of “Anthem” and “KitKat” you can really see that influence.” I also believe in no shortcuts in creating a painting and by that I mean doing a drawing first to perfect the pose or setting and then using that drawing as the basis for the painting.” As in any high calling, there is no “easy” way says Gary the encouraging mentor. “It’s going to take about a hundred paintings, before you get really good and consistent and develop a style” It is really important to learn to draw, before you learn to paint.” And, above all, “Never give up!”
Balance, Line and Proportion
Speaking of never giving up, the ultimate goal of every purebred dairy breeder is to bring all the best parts of the dairy cow together in one animal. Gary Sauder has a parallel artistic vision and Russell Gammon, former General Manager of Jersey Canada and now Jersey Program Manager at Semex Canada, applauds Gary’s work and explains why he personally has expectations of a “Mona Lisa Jersey painting”. “Gary Sauder’s artwork fills a niche in the dairy industry. Given his long term passion for dairy cows and dairy cow conformation (especially that of the Jersey breed) he nails proportions and the small details perfectly. I’ve seen some of the cows he has painted and he captures them perfectly on canvas.”
The Bullvine Bottom Line – “Follow Your Moos”
There is no doubt that Gary Sauder, the muse in his gallery, will always follow his “Moos”. And, as long as he does so, there will be a growing following in the dairy/art world who will agree with Gammon’s praise of his mastery, “Call Gary Sauder the Renoir, the Picasso, the Da Vinci of the Dairy World!”
To order some of Gary’s fine art work visit Cow Art and More.