Well, I said a “little” ink in the caption, but it’s more like a lot of ink. There’s a lot of shadow in this picture, so that requires more ink. Usually with a chestnut horse I don’t do as much ink, but I want the shadow areas for this one to be really rich.
It’s been a long time since anybody asked me why I bother to do this, why I don’t just paint it. I haven’t even revisited that question myself–until today when it occurred to me while I was working on Eden. When I first started doing portraits, it was more of a design decision. I was after a certain “look”. But as I went along, I discovered there were also a few more advantages. The biggest advantage is that I get a great second look at the drawing before I begin to paint. As I’m putting down the ink, I find literally dozens of areas that I want to change, that don’t look quite right. Part of that may have something to do with doing the drawing one day and the ink the next, but whatever it is, I think that the time delay gives my brain the opportunity to take a fresh look and see what I missed the first time around.
The second advantage is texture and the third is sharpness of detail. Texture is a great advantage for dark horses or dark areas of a lighter horse. Because I paint in transparent layers, some of this texture will show through no matter how many layers I put down. If I need some pinpoint detail, such as mane hair or eyelashes, I can pretty much just leave the ink as is and let it be the detail with very little paint coverage.
So now I’ll let this portrait go for another day, just to make sure the ink is really dry before I start to paint. I’m pretty confident it’s dry already, but better safe than sorry has been my pattern for so long that I’m not about to abandon it now!