With Covid-19 contagion all around us, political and social unrest and violence, and our world near ecological collapse I found myself enraptured with Willard and Curtis, twin Scottish Highland steers. They lived not far from me on a working farm (and a much-loved spot) where in the warmer months I buy local produce and plants for my garden. At first glance, these shaggy, tangled coated beasts appear out of time and place, like some mystical beings or prehistoric animals. These old souls moved slowly, were often still and silent. They were removed from our world. I went often to photograph and videotape them, fascinated by the way they looked and behaved and how they appeared in the landscape, like black mounds of earth. I would come back to my studio with the fresh experience of having just seen them, along with photographic images from which to base my paintings. I loved painting their tangled coat of hair - so suggestive of dripping paint, and their large, curved horns that defined and separated these beautiful animals from the landscape. Their calm presence gave me respite from my world of anxiety and uncertainty. I imagined Willard and Curtis as protectors, substitutes for nurturing figures. The longer I studied these beasts, the more I came to recognize that what I was trying to capture was “not the shape of things, but the things themselves”, from the poem “The Death of Fred Clifton”, by Lucille Clifton.