Friday, November 21, 2008

Bard-Entering the Home Stretch

Although the light was better, yesterday was somewhat of a frustrating painting day. The problem is that I don't have good reference for Bard's neck and shoulder in sunlight from the right angle. The main reference was taken on an overcast day so does not have good highlights or shadows, and it's the highlights and shadows that give the horse his form.

Anatomy books are only so much help because what you see on the real horse or a photograph doesn't correspond to the superficial muscles. That's because the underlying muscles and bones also make up the form: the lines, curves, dips and bumps that one sees on every horse if you study closely. And every horse is just a little bit different from every other horse.

So, when working from poor references, one has to rely a lot on knowledge of anatomy, past memories of observations and knowledge of where the highlights and shadows would fall when the light source is coming from a specific direction. Sometimes you just have to "wing it" and try various things until the image looks right. Unfortunately, I never reached that point yesterday and gave up when it was time to watch "CSI".

So, today's version is not quite there yet. The shoulder definitely needs to be redone, and the neck needs more highlights. I may just draft one of my Breyer model horses, a stocky Quarter Horse like Bard, to show me where the highlights should be for the next time I paint. Until then, I'm letting the paint dry. It wasn't quite dry enough in places yesterday which meant the former layer lifted off as I painted over it even though the layers are fairly thin.

Still, I have the satisfaction of knowing that the painting is entering the home stretch, which is always a good feeling. As usual, click on the image above to see a larger version on my website.

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