I still haven't finished the "Vilano Sunrise" painting.  I've been busy working on a commissioned painting.  This is an 8 x 10 of a girl on her horse.  The girl was a teen I think when the picture I am working from was taken.  She is now a woman who is a horse trainer.  She was recently badly hurt in a fall and will be laid up for approximately one year.  Not good, especially for a single mother!  Anyway, hopefully the painting will cheer her up and remind her of happier days.  She is a close friend.

     The first picture is of the background I did for the painting with the sketch of the horse and rider overlaid on the dried background.  Then I went in and started filling in the sketch with the dark base color.  The horse is a palomino so the base color is a darker reddish brown. Then I started bringing in the lighter highlighted areas to bring out the curves of the horse.  This is where you need to know the anatomy of the horse or have a REALLY good picture, preferably BOTH!  Horses are beautiful creatures but can be very hard to paint.  They have many muscles and dips and round places that are necessary to capture in order to get them looking real.  It pays to get a book on the anatomy of a horse and study it if you want to paint them.  I have been drawing them since I was a little girl as I was horse crazy like many young girls!  But I digress.

 Keep going over the lighter areas several times each time bringing up the light more and more until you have it the way you want.  Here I have the picture next to the canvas for comparison.  It is good to keep it there so you can keep looking back and forth for comparison!  Once I had the horse well along, I started adding in the basic form of the girl.  Something I did, BTW, to make this process much easier was to place the photo on my copier and enlarge it 198% (what my copier would do).  That took it up to an 8 x 10 size.  Perfect, for my painting is 8 x 10!  I then cut out the horse and rider from my copy and laid it on the canvas, then drew around it with charcoal pencil so as to get the proportions right!  Simple and effective.  Or, if you want to work harder, place it on grid paper and then transfer that way.  Much more work, but it is also effective.  If you don't know how to do that, I will explain in another blog. This is NOT cheating, it is how to get it started out  with the right proportions so the painting stays on track.  Very important!

You can see the highlights starting to show form on the horse.  Look closely at the picture on the left and be sure to copy the shadows and highlights closely!  Again, horses have many muscles and it is important to get them right if you want your horse to look realistic!

Here, I have added more highlights to the horse and while they are drying I start adding color and form to the girl.  Her shirt is white so the base color is blue-grey.  The highlights are not pure white until you get to the very end, and even then use pure white very sparingly to avoid chalkiness.  Then I started the mane.  I also cut out the girl from the horse at this point from the copy and compared her to the horse for correct positioning especially her leg.  I don't add her full arm yet.  I need to finish her    top first.  

Now you see the painting much further along.  I am almost finished now.  Notice that I changed the position of the horse's ears.  In the pic he has his ears turned backwards.  I wanted them forward for the painting as it is much prettier.  Just be sure to get them in the right place.  Nothing makes a horse look funnier faster than having the ears too far forward or too far back.  Study photos carefully!  Also, it is easier and natural to have the feet down in grass.  Hoofs are also hard to get just right!  I noticed that the  girl's foot was too small so I enlarged it to make it proportionate.  The hardest of all was getting her face!  I am not a portrait artist.  That is very specialized art and very difficult!  I tried very hard and it is as close as I could get.  Hopefully she will like it!  Below is the final painting. I did a few tweaks after a day of letting it rest  and then varnished it to mail.  Enjoy!  If you mail a painting, be sure it is completely dry first!!!

8 x 10


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