|"The Dressage Clinic" 16x20 inch pastel, Sold|
Pictured above is the very first work of art that I sold that wasn't a portrait. I'd been doing horse and pet portraits for years but had never managed to sell an original work of art before.
This pastel painting came about by way of an exercise in a color drawing class in art school. I liked the exercise of exploring lost and found edges of objects and thought it would be fun to explore using horses as subject matter. Before that I had done a couple with deer in them and sail boats but dropped the technique until years later.
After getting back into horses again and moving my horse to a new barn, I discovered dressage and a fellow boarder who was a dressage rider. One weekend, three of us from the barn went to a dressage clinic at Bay Harbor Equestrian Center outside of Petoskey, Michigan to observe. The clinic instructor was none other than Steffen Peters, a well known and accomplished professional dressage rider and Olympian. I took my camera and got a lot of pictures despite the poor lighting in the large indoor arena.
From the best of those photos, The Dressage Clinic emerged. The process is a bit complicated to explain. It involves cut outs of horses and riders laid down on the paper and rubbed over with pastel dust along the edges. First, of course, you must arrange all the cut outs in a pleasing array of different sizes. After this stage was complete, I went on to add details to the figures with colored pencils, leaving some areas to be "lost" and some "found".
For those of you who are not familiar with dressage, a dressage test consists of riding from letter to letter spaced out around the dressage arena. The letters tell the rider when to transition from walk to trot or to canter a 20 meter circle or whatever the test calls for. That is what the letters in the painting reference.
This painting is far from my best work, even at that time, but it does mark a milestone in my advancement as a professional equine artist. I went on to create another better dressage clinic piece with a different color palette, but it would not photograph well, and I finally destroyed it. I haven't done any more since.
Below is another pastel painting using the same technique. This one depicts a
foal playing. The title is Playtime, and this one also sold.
|"Playtime", 11x14 pastel, Sold|
PS A "lost" edge is one that disappears in the picture. Lost edges can be very important in a painting or drawing as they help to draw attention to the "found" edges and points of interest by deemphasizing other edges and areas.