A little New Year’s surprise

Way back in 2017 I blogged about a photo of one of the small Aquabord™ paintings I do while I’m in my booth at horse shows or expos. I like to do that so I can attract people to watch a painting happen and thereby engage them in some conversation. This one is called “Seahorse” and it sold quite a while ago. Okay, be patient, there is a connection to be made a couple of paragraphs down.

My horse Charm stars as a body model in this painting.

So here I was three years later with a special request from a long-time friend of mine who owns a company called Lamou Design. Lamou makes custom tables, serving trays, coasters, and such, with personalized designs which can be either your own photo or chosen from a huge selection they have. My friend, Ann, had a client who wanted to gift someone with a tray featuring horses. Just my luck that the client didn’t have any source material and neither did Ann in her vast library. Good thing she knew just who to turn to!

I sent her a bunch of high-res photos of what I thought would make great images on a tray, and the client picked one titled Dodge, which featured two horses playing on a little hill.

“Dodge” (as in avoid, not as in automobile!) watercolor on Aquabord™. This one also sold a long time ago.

To return the favor, Ann made me a tray using the Seahorse photo I had also sent, because she thought it would look super cool on a tray. It landed on my doorstep a few days ago.

The amazing thing is that the original painting was only 5″ x 7″. Yeah, I had a hi-res photo, but still…to enlarge it this big and have it still read as the original watercolor that it was, that’s kind of amazing. The image is actually printed on the baltic birch wood from which the tray is made, not printed on some other substrate which is then applied to the wood. This process lets the grain of the wood show through a little bit and I think it adds interest to the ultimate image.

If you like this idea, to see a lot more of their work search “lamou” on Etsy.com or search “lamou” on Facebook. Or use #mylamou. You might even want to special order something for yourself!


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Sky Pads 30, final version. A bit more depth, a bit more contrast.

Below is the previous version for comparison. I guess your preference would be determined by your appreciation of floating versus more grounded. In the previous version everything was more or less untied from any kind of anchor. In the final one you can see somewhat more clearly where the water line is as the stems reach out of it, and below the line the stems disappear into the murk with a sense fading into it. Although I love purple, there was too much for my comfort in the semi-final, so adding some transparent blue and yellow took care of that.

My goal was to finish this one by the end of 2020. Done! Now all I have to do is frame it. Wood is painted and ready, so, any time will do.

Second to last version, original background plus vegetation…

Since we’re at the end of the year, here’s a look backwards at the very first paint pour for Sky Pads 30–If you have a sharp eye, you’ll notice that I ultimately decided to turn it upside down.

Sky Pads 30 background. Mostly blue and yellow.

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Sky Pads 30, part 2

original background plus vegetation…

I did say a long time ago that I was going to leave the background “as is” on this one. But…now that I have the plants themselves in place I need to accent a few spots on the background so the stems can believably sink into the water. It shouldn’t be a big deal, and as soon as that’s done it will mean this painting is done too. My goal was to finish it in 2020 and I will!

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What’s your favorite light flavor?

Okay, so I wasn’t totally happy with the color scheme of Sky Pads 31, but I didn’t want to paint over it. So I didn’t. The photo in the original post was taken in a “daylight” setting, which brightened everything up and made the colors appear somewhat harsh, at least in my opinion.

So, I decided to photograph it as it would perhaps appear on someone’s wall, out of bright light but bathed in the warm lamp light of incandescent bulbs. (I know, who uses them anymore? But a lot of the LED’s come in various flavors, including warm light).

Such a difference a color temperature can make. I decided to leave the paint alone, and if anyone should decide they were going to purchase this one I would insist they take it home and put it in the intended space before coming to a final decision.

Here you go, after on the left, before on the right.

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Two sessions later

I think it’s finished, but I’m going to let it sit for a bit while I back up and start on #30. It’s a bit odd, but I find I like the third version much better when it’s sitting in minimum light. The photo was not in minimum light, so you can’t see how mysterious it looks when the brightness is toned down. If I can figure out a way to do that with paint so it looks deeper even in bright light I might go there.

In the meantime, here’s the background for #30. I have already put the drawing on it in white paint, so it’s ready for its next step. I intend to leave the background alone, although in future photos it may appear more blue-green depending on the light it gets photographed in and which camera I’m using (lazy phone or more complicated SLR).

The flowery field which was the background I posted a couple of months ago now looks more like water with maybe a bunch of stuff floating in/on it. Leaves have been drawn but I didn’t take a photo of that because they’re kind of hard to see.

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Running a bit late

It was my intention to have this one finished by December 1. I got all the pesky leaves done but the background was only a suggestion and as such it needs a lot of adjustment. The bright areas on the edges are bad lighting. They will disappear 😉

So here’s what we’ve got, and if I go on a painting tear the rest of this evening I may have more to show tomorrow.

Sky Pads 31. Yes, it’s out of order. 30 will appear sometime this month.

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A two-fer

Just because I wussed out on Sky Pads for a couple of months (or more) doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about them. I already had the background washes done in early September so it wasn’t a stretch to get the first layer on over the background once I finally decided to get moving. So here’s the result for you to mull over exactly what you think you might be seeing.

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A horse got me moving again

I think I fell victim to “Covid coma” without even having the disease. My “blogging coma” lasted a couple of months, meaning I didn’t do any painting at all since early September. I’m pretty sure part of the lethargy was brought on by the September sale of the boarding barn where I ride and the subsequent installation of new management, followed by the death of my riding instructor in late October. And throw in a hefty dose of political consternation for good measure.

Then a week or so ago this little watercolor on Aquabord™ horse portrait commission came in to break the spell. It had a deadline, so of course I woke myself up and completed it on time.

The original photo was quite dark, so I brightened it up in Photoshop so I could see which black parts were harness and which black parts were horse. In spite of the very nicely in-focus photo I still had a bit of trouble tracking where all the black straps and lines went on the black horse. I would be drawing and following one line through the various rings and then “poof” it would magically disappear. And there were so many of them! In the end, there’s only one tiny section which isn’t 100% accurate, but I’m not letting on where it is.

Here’s a work progression from start to finish. The colors don’t always match from photo to photo because everything but the final (and most accurate) rendering was taken with a not-so-wonderful phone and the final one with a D-SLR. Click on any of the photos to bring up a full-size gallery image.

Posted in Aquabord, art, drawing, Gypsy Vanner, horse portrait, horses, horses and carts, painting techniques, watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

As usual, looks can be misleading

Sky Pads 30, background paint pour

I’m pretty sure if I showed you the source photo side by side with this one, you’d all be going “gaaahhh, what is this?”  At the moment, it could just be an abstract of a field of yellow flowers. Or a rush of water over some mossy stones. I’m not even sure if it’s right side up yet. All I can say at this point is that it will have multiple layers of paint over it, and the undercoat will influence those layers one way or another. Fortunately, unlike its recent predecessors, I will not have to do a reverse drawing in white instead of black because this background coat is light enough to see my usual brown pen strokes when I project the drawing onto it.

Since the drawing at this point is nonexistent, I guess I should hop on that and get it done while I wait for this background to dry thoroughly.

I have the paint pour done for #31 too, but it’s so boring (on purpose) that there’s no point in posting it. Just imagine a large canvas with a sort of ombre effect going light to dark in a shade of violet.

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This was one for the long haul

Final photo lighting is better than in-progress shots, so it looks a bit different but is more accurate.

Sky Pads 29 required an inordinate amount of rumination. Each time I would complete a section I had to think about how the next was going to go. It all looks harmonious, but this one was tricky because of the 6 layers of paint forming the background.

Normally I can paint over a background and my glazes will not dissolve the layers underneath. In order to obtain the bright colors in the lily pads I painted their silhouettes white so I would have a consistent base to work with. It didn’t seem to matter how long I let that white undercoat dry, the paint laid down on top of it dissolved the white to one degree or another. This is probably because the layers underneath created a very smooth surface–the canvas at this point had hardly any “tooth” to it. However, I went with the flow and accepted the challenge of dealing with it until I got the look I was after. I spent my “waiting time” painting the wood for the frame. So as soon as this is good and dry, we do some varnish coats and install the frame. That will be the joyous end of the long haul…

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