Ox tale

Barbara Ronchetti’s winning fair poster features a beautiful bovine.

Barbara Ronchetti, of Island Alpaca, with the original drawing of her winning Ag Fair poster drawing. —Gabrielle Mannino

The first thing that strikes you about Barbara Ronchetti’s ox is his charming personality. Ronchetti uses her soft colored CarbOthello pastel pencils to create a recognizable but not photorealistic animal. “I tried to draw it almost cartoon-like, so I could have more forgiveness with the pastels,” she explains. Her fluid drawing style and enticing use of color convey the essence of this appealing bovine that almost seems to smile at us. Try naming it, and you’ll see how only a friendly name would work.

Interestingly, Ronchetti got the inspiration to start her well-known farm, Island Alpaca, after falling in love with alpacas at the Ag Fair. That started a long-term love affair. Her alpaca farm is now in its 12th year, and she noted that she would be bringing two alpaca, Leonardo and Atticus, to the fiber tent again this year.

—Gabrielle Mannino

With her dedication to alpacas, you might have expected Ronchetti to have chosen them for her animal portrait. Her previous years’ poster submissions have been of alpacas, but she realized this year that “the alpaca is just not the ‘quintessential’ livestock you would expect see at the fair.”

Despite the responsibilities of running the farm, Ronchetti shares, “I love to draw, and that’s one of the things that inspired me to submit this year. I was crazy busy and found myself with only four days left until the deadline. So I was looking for something clean and simple, and again ‘quintessential,’ while trolling through old images I found of the Martha’s Vineyard Ag Fair. I just looked at all the color, the animals, and the composition. I was looking for some inspiration, and I saw this wonderful ox in a photograph by Susie Middleton, and there was something about him; he had a calming presence and also looked thoughtful.”

For the text, Ronchetti says, “I was lucky enough to have stumbled on the font you see in the poster. I did a rough draft of the wording even before I started drawing to get the composition and know where I was going to crop the image. When I finished the drawing, I then photographed it, and put it on the computer. After that I was able to drop in the font, which I downloaded from the web.” It was a rush to the end to get the submission in just hours before the deadline.

Time went by, and Ronchetti was at the farm after hours one night. “Out of the blue I got a call, ‘Hi, this is Amy Coffey from the Ag Society,’ and it didn’t even click until she said, ‘Do you know what I’m calling about?’ I was shocked, and I said, ‘Really?’ and she said, ‘Really!’ Amy was on speaker phone with the rest of the judges in the room when she called. I said, ‘I feel like screaming!’ and Amy said, ‘Go ahead!’ I did, and thought I heard laughter in the background.”