I had to let this painting of Dez sit for a couple of days. Painting the parts of the horse that were under tack that the artist removed can be somewhat of a puzzle to be solved. This one in particular was a puzzle because the camera angle of the source photo was a bit unusual. The horse was bent to his left (towards the right side of the photo) and I would have expected to see more of his right side in that angle since he was curling to his left. But his haunches were behind the saddle and rider that had been removed and I couldn’t see much to get a clue from either side. I went with that original angle, but it made the other side of him look really skinny and, coincidentally, unbalanced.
I retreated to my enormous files of reference photos and ended up with…a painting from a very old Christmas card (!) to use as a reference for a new angle which would show more of his right side (left side of the photo). I also straightened out his front end a bit so it would go with the new angle. I think now he looks like he’s coming toward the camera with some purpose and some strength in his posture.
I added more branches to the background and played with the shading to get more light/dark contrast. I think it’s done now. But as usual I will let it sit again for a few days in a spot where I will come upon it every morning and see if my judgement remains the same. Here you go–
Here’s yesterday’s status at quitting time. That white stuff I showed you in the last post needed to be there so I could shade the background behind the willow branches from light to dark and let the viewer see the light effects behind the trees. The faint colors that were there originally gave me a clue as to how I wanted to play with the shading in the background. The white was a thin coat over the branches so I didn’t lose total sight of where I had put the branches in the first place. You can see how I now have a pretty good start on all the variations in the background.
Dez himself is pretty much finished. There might be a few details I will attend to, but it all depends on how much more I do with the background. At present I think he could do with a bit more gray shading on the rest of him to match what’s on his head. Aren’t you happy to know that you don’t have to make all these itty bitty decisions unless you’re an artist?
Got everything blocked in but none of it at its final state. Lots more to do, especially the background. There wasn’t a lot of contrast/shadows in the source photo so to some extent I’m inventing as I go.
More coming soon. I will have to have a little chat with my cats. They are butting in to the painting session and complaining about lack of attention,
A client I remember vividly for various reasons contacted me recently to commission a new horse portrait. You can see the one she commissioned in 2012 here. That one was her grandfather’s horse, and she ordered it really early to have it in time for a Christmas present. Her grandfather is gone now, but the portrait of his horse Fred hangs in her son’s bedroom. I will never forget her telling me that when her grandfather finally saw the portrait, he cried…
Her recent request was for a portrait of her own horse to hang in the same space next to Fred. So I got a pile of reference photos, and I’m putting it together piece by piece. This is Dez, from whom I had to remove all the the tack and the rider (same as I did for Fred) and make up an entirely new background (ditto for Fred).
Here’s the sketch. I have a bit of the first layer painted. I’m thinking as I go. It will reveal itself…
Below are the final version of Sky Pads 34 and the one immediately preceding it. I actually finished it several days ago, but the last tweak I made to it was a pour of very wet but very transparent paint. For some reason only it knows, it refused to dry and if I set it upright to photograph it the paint started to run. That was not an effect that interested me, so I had to keep it flat for a few days until it decided to cooperate. I finally got a fairly good cell phone photo of it tonight. There’s a few feet of snow outside and a nasty wind, so I won’t be taking it out soon for a photo in natural light.
As for the reason for the final paint pour, I kept looking at the current stage like I almost always do, until it occurred to me what it was that was missing. That something was a sort of glue to hold the composition together. The background was too strong for the delicate plants, so the paint pour gave just enough sparkle to the plants and just enough toning down to the background. Here’s the comparison:
Second to last version on the left, final version on the right. When it gets good and dry it will get a coat or two of varnish before being framed. At the moment I have nothing else in the pipeline, so I will be looking through my endless files of photos for something interesting. The art supply store had a 1/2 off sale on 4 foot by 5 foot canvases, so I bought two as a challenge to find images for a gigantic diptych. That may not happen for a while, but stay tuned…
After a spell of uncertainty I managed to come up with a plan for my second move. This is it. It will not be final. There will be at least a third iteration, maybe more. But for now, feel free to fulfill your role as amateur (or even professional) art critics.
I’m expecting a few comments along the lines of “It’s great the way it is”. If you have followed this blog for long, you know I never let that get in the way of teetering on disaster. Stay close…
Well, at least one decision. A skajillion more are likely. But I’m thinking in this case less may be more. I like this first pass, and I have plans for one or two more, but I will do my best not to get carried away. I think the quality goes down sometimes when I’m tempted to overwork something. Maybe a new year will provide new process control…??
This background for Sky Pads 34 was poured on the same day as the one for Sky Pads 33. I don’t remember what day that was, but it was a long time ago. At least sometime before October of last year. And when I finished 33 I just kept looking at this background without a single idea of what to do with it.
I had the drawing done at the same time 33 was drawn, but it didn’t seem to fit the pattern of the quite obvious downward swooshes of purple paint in spite of my efforts to make them less powerful at the time of pouring it.
I’m sure there millions of people like me who have sudden ideas when they’re tossing in bed trying to get some sleep while simultaneously seeking the solution to a problem. I finally had one of those tossing/turning/fussing nights that suddenly pushed an answer out of my brain.
Let’s just say I have a plan now. It will be revealed soon. I promise…
The night before the night before Christmas the SO and I got tickets for the Christmas festival of lights at Wellfield Botanical Gardens in Elkhart, Indiana. Since our house is less than 20 miles away it was super easy to make plans. We did not specifically plan to arrive shortly after the gates opened, but it happened that way. We scooted right in with no delay. Upon our departure we thanked each other for the unintentional early arrival as we encountered hundreds in line in that type of queue where you go down to one end, turn 180 degrees and go down to the other, “rinse and repeat” until you finally get to your goal.
The goal, however, was well worth it. Over a million lights festooned trees, bridges, and garden structures. Walking the entire area took about a half hour, and gave various viewpoints to enjoy for each grouping of lights. So go ahead, enjoy a couple minutes of photographic documentation! Before I turn you loose, though, I have to mention that Wellfield is where I participated in their annual “Taste of the Gardens” art fair in 2018 and 2019. I won the “Best Overall” award both years, which involved a pretty hefty $$$ prize. Since I don’t stray very far from my display tent at a show, I had never seen the entirety of the gardens in person. Even though it was a night-time stroll, I still got a good idea of the size and variety of the place.