CowParade Austin Calendar – April – CowBella

The “April Cow” in my 2012 calendar is the gracefully beautiful CowBella. The artist who painted CowBella is Jan Heaton, and she was sponsored by The Leipsner Family.  CowBella was on display at West 2nd Street & Lavaca Street – at The W Hotel here in Austin.  You will definitely want to read this post to the end, as I asked the artist Jan Heaton if she would like to participate in this post!

The morning of Sept. 03, 2011 was very busy for Dad and I as we photographed most of the CowParade Austin cows in the center of downtown Austin within 4 hours. The EXIF metadata embedded in the photos reveals that my first photo of CowBella was taken at 10:52 AM, and the last one was taken just 5 minutes later at 10:57 AM. By that time the sun had risen pretty high in the still-summer sky.

Fortunately, CowBella was located on the south side of a wide support column at The W Hotel, so she was still completely in the shade. That was the good news. What wasn’t very good (for the photographer) was that the bright sunlit sidewalk was getting very close to CowBella, and I would only be able to photograph one side of this beautiful cow.

(Helpful Hint:  You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to Gregg’s story.)

You can see the bright sunlight washing out a step in the sidewalk in the lower left corner of this photo. I suppose I could have done something in Photoshop to eliminate that, but I wasn’t planning on submitting this photo to any contest or anything….

After taking the “broadside” photo above, I moved a bit to my left and to where I could see some of the front of CowBella’s face.

Now you can see the bright sunlight both in front and behind the cow. I did use the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom to bring the exposure down in both of those areas by 2/3 of a stop. This is the photo that Barb and I chose for the “April Cow” in the calendar.

OK, so I moved a little further to my left to get a “front shot” of CowBella. I really like the way that Jan painted the eyes on CowBella.  It looks like she’s looking at me looking at her!

The “tricky” part of making this photo was getting the tremendous amount of depth-of-field. Everything from CowBella’s nose, all the way back to the buildings over her head are in focus. That requires a small aperture opening (high f/stop number) and a wide angle lens. For this photo, I used an aperture of f/20 and a focal length of 45mm (on a full-frame sensor camera).

Now I had 3 areas of the photo with bright sunlight to deal with: in front of CowBella in the lower left corner, directly above her head, and the sidewalk and building behind her. Once again I used the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom to reduce the Exposure in 2 of these 3 areas: -0.4 stops in the lower left corner, and -0.43 stops in the sky directly above her head. (I did not need to touch the buildings above her head, because the sides of those buildings were also in the shade.) I also got that splash of sunlight on the circular column right above where CowBella’s right horn meets her head.

I really liked the way that CowBella was “looking at me”, and so this photo was paired up with another cow that was “looking at me” on the front cover of the calendar. That other cow is Mooquet, who was painted by Terrell Powell, and was sponsored by Breed & Co. (That is the only photo of Mooquet in the entire calendar.)

Now I have never met Jan Heaton, but we do have a mutual good friend, Barb Huffman. When I first took my photos of CowBella, I had Barb forward them to Jan. She responded that she liked them (she was just being polite). After we had the 2012 calendars printed, we gave one to Barb Huffman, and asked her to give another one to Jan Heaton when she got a chance. As a result, I again heard from Jan that she liked it (again she was being polite!). Since I now had Jan’s email address, I asked her if she would like to contribute anything to my “Cow of the Month” post – since it was her cow!

Jan very quickly responded, and here is what she graciously provided for you:

Hi Gregg:
Happy to participate. Here is my press info on CowBella!

About CowBella
One year ago, professional artist Jan Heaton visited Umbria, Italy.
The region’s spectacular art inspired her to create a series of watercolor paintings titled Tranquillo.
Translating the serenity of the paintings to a three dimensional cow seemed like a natural fit.
CowBella’s design is inspired by the intricate indigo hued ceramics of Deruta, Italy.
Her design was painted entirely with watercolor brushes, and varied transparent color glazes of one blue pigment color only.
In the process of designing and painting CowBella the artist became quite attached to this sweet heifer.

CowBella’s Measurements
Height (including horns): 57”
Neck: 42”
Waist: a petite 83”
Length: (nose to tail): 95”
Hoof Size: a dainty 5”
Weight: 100 #
BMI:19.6 (No added growth hormones.)

About Jan Heaton
Jan’s paintings offer a personal viewpoint that celebrates nature, and then abstractly reaches beyond the obvious.
Heaton’s watercolors are inspired by the structure, color, line and pattern of elements in nature that are often overlooked.
Her work isolates details and exposes the viewer to an everyday object or place seen from a new perspective.
She incorporates her background in calligraphy and graphic design to create sensuous organic forms.
Jan is a faculty member of the Austin Museum of Art School, and a Signature Member of the National Watercolor Society.
Jan’s artwork is represented by art dealers in Austin, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Laguna Beach,
London, and San Miguel, Mexico. In Austin Heaton’s artwork is represented at Wally Workman Gallery.
Additional info on the artist can be found on her website,

So there you have “the complete story” on CowBella. Be sure to visit Jan’s web site and check out her remarkable works of art!

One thought on “CowParade Austin Calendar – April – CowBella”

  1. Public art is almost always tricky to do especially outdoors. Been there 😉 The cow is very reminds me in a way of that old fashioned delft blue china.

    The red cow is really kicky and cool – I’d be proud to have that in my living room. Then again, I did once own a carousel horse from a child’s carousel, and that was always on display for all to see.

Comments are closed.