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Festivals, Cattle and Art

British White cattle, reference for Caroline Skinner's art projects

Each summer I volunteer as a festival steward for Oxfam at several music festivals in the UK. If you have the time to help out and you enjoy festival life, I highly recommend it.

Last month I went to Shambala Festival, held each year in a “secret” Northants location. It’s a music festival that also includes cinema, talks, workshops in various crafts  and permaculture, and a wellbeing area with yoga, massages etc. Recycling and clearing the site afterwards are actively encouraged and one-use plastic bottles are not sold on site. 

Also, for the last few years, all food offered by festival caterers is vegetarian or vegan, with a huge range of great food on offer. The cattle that usually live on the field where we were camping may have been relieved about the lack of meat on site!

These cows are a herd of British White cattle, one of the oldest cattle breeds in England, used mainly for beef, with some milk production. This particular herd of handsome cattle dates back to the 18th century, so that is quite some pedigree!  They were in a nearby barn during the festival, so as an animal artist, I naturally spent some time sketching and photographing them for future art projects. 

Here are a few of my sketches (paintings to follow!): 



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You can see original paintings and giclee prints of some of my colourful farm animal art here.

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How to get started as an animal artist

Dad's cat, childhood drawing, early sketches


Artists often get asked how they started painting and about their art influences. This seems like a good place to start my new art blog. My earliest influences were very close to home – I’ll talk about my favourite artists another time.


Dad's cat, childhood drawing, early sketches
Dad’s cat drawing

I’ve drawn and painted for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad drawing a cat over and over for me and getting me to copy it. It was a great game, and Dad’s cat looked something like this:


Dad never claimed to be an artist, and I knew better than to ask about the missing legs!  But I learned to love drawing and fortunately we always had pets I could observe, so in time I learned about those missing legs …



While I was growing up, my Mum told me that I was like her father who had been a sign writer. He was apparently a really good artist. Naturally I wanted to see his work, but sadly, he died before I was born. All of his artwork had been destroyed along with any photos, so I’ve never seen any of it. Encouraging and maddening at the same time! My young brain struggled to process these mixed messages about the value of art, and although I got a decent Art “O” Level,  I dropped formal art studies for more academic subjects. I spent most of my working life doing “proper” work, but art was in my blood so I kept coming back to it…


tabby cat painting, cat art, cat pet portrait, cat print
Tabby Cat

So, to get started as an animal artist, get some encouragement from your family, add in some mixed messages and a house full of pets, do other things for a living for 30+ years, but keep painting and drawing,  et voilà!


Oh and I hope you agree that my cat paintings have improved!



What are your earliest memories of painting or drawing? Did you have any art influences? Feel free to comment below: