I've painted horses on several occasions, but never a larger version.  By that I mean never on a larger canvas than 8 x 10.  I recently said that smaller canvases are harder to get details on so maybe that means it will be easier to get the details correct on my larger horses that I am going to paint on a 16 x 20 canvas.  We shall see.

     The scene I am painting is a pastoral scene with a mare and foal.  I have decided that the mare will be nuzzling her foal as if talking to him.  They are thoroughbreds and he will grow up to be great she is telling him.  I had snapped a photo of a pasture while traveling that I feel is the perfect setting for the pair.  I also looked up some photos of horses nuzzling. I cannot wait to get started so here goes!

Here is the setting I mentioned earlier.  It is actually a small park with an historical marker, but it is perfect for my painting.  Can't you just see the horses fitting into this setting?

I have started blocking in the painting and the cloud.  I just love doing clouds, especially the big fluffy kind like this!  I am doing this painting for the show in Paris, Ky.  And that is where the renowned thoroughbred Secretariat lived for 15 years.  Sadly he had to be put to sleep due to a hoof infection, but he is remembered by all horse fans.  I want to make the foal in this painting look like him!

This is a closeup of the cloud.  Sorry, I painted in the tree limbs before I got this photo.  I squinted my eyes as I looked at the reference photo to reduce the cloud to shapes.  This makes it much easier to paint!  I also went for the general idea and not an exact copy.  I used U blue, a touch of burnt umber, and white to make the grey.  It will take several coats of white to get the highlight correct.

I now have the grass and trees in (higher grass is for hay)  Trees can look intimidating, but once you have the trunk in, you use a script liner and inky paint to paint in the small limbs.  Hold the brush so the bristles are pointing downward and "draw" in those small limbs with a light touch: the more the better!

Here is a closeup of the grass.  Notice I have also painted in the fence.  It needs three boards and I only have two, so I will go back and fix that.  Many farms put up two and horse wire now, but I can't paint that in!  I also highlighted the background trees and started the leaves on the big trees.

I decided that I didn't like the trees covering so much of the beautiful cloud so I painted out some of the tree and put the cloud back in.  I will add some more leaves, but they will be higher so as to let the cloud show better.

Here you can see that I am blocking in the horses.  I wanted the mother's (dam in horse terms) head to be touching the foal in a loving gesture.  As you can see, they are both red.  It is called sorrel or chestnut in horses.  Foals are always lighter as newborns and darken as they age.  A black horse can look beige when born but darken within a year.

Here you see the trees with the leaves and the horses as they look at this point.  It is really hard to get the mare's neck to look correct.  I am happy with her head and body though.  Overall, I am very pleased so far with this painting!  Well, I need to go look up what marking Secretariat had on his head.  I'll be back soon with more! In the meantime, I have another closeup of the horses below.

 I made it look as though she is whispering into the foal's ear.  I just now thought about it but, I wonder what color Secretariat's dam was?  It doesn't matter to me because I'm not going to change her, it's too much work!  He is what's important to get right. Ok, I did my homework.  Secretariat had a star with a strip, and three white stockings.  Both back legs were white and his off front leg, which means it is his right leg (for those of you who aren't familiar with horse terms) It's called off because horses are led, saddled, and mounted from their left side.  It is called the near side.  But enough of that, I need to get back to painting!  Now, I'm in trouble, I looked up Secretariat's dam.  Her name was Somethingroyal and she was a bay.  That means she was red/brown with a black mane and tail.  I can actually change her without too much trouble. So be it!

It is coming along nicely!  I have the markings correct, I finally got the dam's neck halfway decent and I am going to let it rest for awhile.  I still have to put in the shadows and refine the legs, but I am getting close I think.   Did you notice that I finally put the third rail in on the fence?  This has been a lot of fun and much less work than I thought it was going to be.  Yay!

     Interesting facts about Secretariat are that he won the Triple Crown after a 25 year dry spell.  The Belmont is the final leg and they let him have his head or run as fast as he wanted, and he won by 31 lengths!  That is 248 feet ahead of the other horses!  He lived out his life in Paris, Ky at Claiborne Farm.  I used to see him as we drove past from time to time.  When he died they did a necropsy and found that while normal, his heart was twice the size of an average horse.  They suspect the same was true of the other great horse Man O War who was a distant relative of Secretariat.

Secretariat darkened to a beautiful chestnut red. In photos of him as a colt, he was this light dun color. I hope you enjoyed this painting and I will see you next week!

Secretariat and his dam Somethingroyal
16 x 20

Today is the PARIS ART WALK! If you live anywhere in Central Kentucky, please take some time to come and visit with me and see my art.  It is at the Hopewell Museum, 800 Pleasant Street, Paris, Ky, from 5 x 8 pm.  Admission is free and there will be refreshments served.  I'd love to meet you!

Popular Posts