Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Scotch - The Horse

In today's painting session I tackled the horse and almost finished him.

You know how horses look like plush toys in winter with their long coats, especially when the fur stands on end on a cold day? Well, that's the look I'm aiming for with this horse. One problem I encountered was that in the reference the horse is dirty from rolling in the indoor arena, so that confuses his form, making it hard to tell what is highlight on the coat and what is dirt. So, I had to go with what I know.

There isn't much left to do on this painting, but I may not be able to paint tomorrow. That's frustrating. But, my saddle and bridle need cleaning before I go riding in the afternoon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winter Scotch - A Little Progress

I confess to getting side tracked from the studio over the weekend by setting up a business page on Facebook. From all that I hear, Facebook is the new place to be, even for businesses, and now I have my own presence there. Please take a look and maybe even become a "fan" to receive news every time the page is updated.

Today it was back to work on this one. I repainted the sky and then put in the distant hills and trees. The sky looks much better now that it is evened out, and it has more depth. The hills took some doing to get them just right. I wiped them off a couple of times before coming up with a design that works and discovered that less is more when it comes to the over all composition. Those faraway trees were done with a 10/0 brush and great care, and I'm pretty happy with them. I like painting trees.

It's amazing what a few touches can do. The landscape really came to life today, and now I'm ready to paint the horse and give him some life, too.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Winter Scotch - A New Name

This little painting now has a new name! Usually, I have no trouble thinking up good names for paintings. In fact, often they pop into my head as soon as I see the reference photo. Not so this one. After trying many word associations, the combination "winter scotch" came to mind. How perfect, I thought, since my horse's "show name" is Scotch Bar Lochinvar! Then I thought about how warm inside a glass of Scotch whiskey makes one feel, and that made the connection complete. Warm scotch; cold landscape.

After living with this new name for two days, I decided it was a keeper.

Yesterday was spent painting the background and having fun again with colors in the snow. However, I've already decided that the sky is too busy and must be given a more uniform tone. I'm not entirely happy with the snow, either. But, I LOVE the shadow with its blues and lavenders. It works well.

Since the painting is too wet to work on today, my studio time will be spent reading my art books on how to render snow. You may wonder why I didn't do this before beginning the painting, and the reason is simple. My perfectionist nature usually dictates that I learn how to paint something before starting it which often stifles the urge to paint NOW! This time, I decided to just go ahead and see what I could learn on my own during the process of painting without having to resort to books.

Last night I rode the "real" Scotch with my friends at the barn for our usual Thursday night group ride. The painting of Bard was delivered to his owner, and it was declared a success by all in attendance. In fact, Bard's owner teared up with emotion which is always a big reward for me, letting me know that I captured the essence of this horse and brought joy to his owner.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Horse In Winter - Day Two

Exciting is the best way to describe today's work session! I love to begin the color stage of any painting, so after dispatching the obligatory daily household chores, I headed into the studio and squeezed out a nice assortment of colors on the palette.

Too bad that you can't see them yet. It's too early in the process, and today I was mostly playing around with the background, keeping the paint very thinned down. First I brushed a layer of Cadmium Yellow Light over the whole surface, but it was so diluted with Gamsol that it showed up as only a whisper. After that, I painted some sky and then did the initial layer of white (tinted with a hint of blue) snow.

Now I was ready to get really wild with color and brushed some pink and lavender into the snow to see how they would look. YOU can't see them, but they ARE there, and will probably be added again at a later stage. If you take photos of snow, you'll quickly notice that it's not pure white. On a sunny day, it reflects the blue of the sky and yellow tones from the sun's rays. Like white horses, you can work a lot of colors into snow and still have it be believable.

Most of the session was spent on painting the first layer of color on the horse and making adjustments to him. I adjusted his top line quite a bit, moving the withers back slightly, moving the croup back slightly and giving it less slope. I also added just a bit to the hindquarters, giving the horse much more balance and making him look much more like my Scottie. As the painting progresses, there will be other tweaks to make, such as to the left front and hind legs, but he is good for now.

It feels SO good to be giving more priority to the artwork each day, and so rewarding to have a new painting in progress. If this painting isn't dry enough to work on tomorrow, I just may start another new painting. Hmmm, what shall it be?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Horse In Winter Study

One of my goals for this year is to devote far more time to working in the studio actually creating artwork. That will be a huge improvement over the past several years. To that end, I began a new painting yesterday using one of the photos I had taken on my photo shoot at the barn two weeks ago. For now, I’m simply calling it Horse In Winter Study #1. It will be done in oils on an 8x10 inch canvas board.

What you see is the drawing done directly on the canvas (with many corrections) in Burnt Umber. Often I tone a canvas before beginning, but since this is to be a winter scene, I decided to eliminate that step this time. The subject is my own horse, Scottie, whose warm orange coat will contrast nicely against the cool of the snow. I hope to also show how plush horses look in winter and indicate the long coat.

Here’s the reference photo. You can see that I eliminated some of the very busy background behind the horse in order to reveal his topline better and to see how he would look against a plain background. This was done in Photoshop. The photo was taken before I groomed him, and he looks kind of scruffy, but no worries. That can be changed with artistic license.

Today is devoted to watching the historic inauguration events going on in our Capital, but tomorrow it will be back to the daily routine, and that will now include generous amounts of creation time. With luck, I’ll have an update on this little painting tomorrow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Rare Day of Sunshine

Most of this winter, this is what we've seen from our kitchen window; dreary, endless whiteness. You can see how deep the snow is on our deck railing and deck in what is turning out to be a good old-fashioned snow filled winter; just like we used to have 10-20 years ago.

Two weeks ago the sun came out for the first time in ages, and I grabbed my camera as I headed out the door for the barn, hoping for a good photo shoot. The horses were too busy eating or dozing to do anything interesting, but I did manage to get some artsy shots anyway.

This is the barn where I board my horse. It's a small private farm that only accepts a few specially selected boarders. The barn sits up on a hill in very hilly country. The driveway can sometimes be a challenge.

Through the big door on the right is the indoor arena, a spacious 72x120 feet. Through the large sliding door on the left are the stalls and roomy tack room.

Here's my horse, Scottie, looking very pudgy and fuzzy in his winter coat.

This is Mellissa, a Hanoverian mare who is something like 17 hands. I liked the backlight in this shot and definitely plan to do something with it; white horse against snow, backlit with maroon blanket. Hmm, could be interesting.

Here's Mel peeking over Jack's back. There are some interesting things going on here and definite possibilities for something more abstract. I'm calling this one "Incognito" for now.

Finally, this is the run in shed in the front paddock. I like the play of shadows across the snow and may do something with this image, too.

I'm definitely ready to start painting again now that the record management chores have been finished for the new year. In fact, as soon as I send this off, I'll be selecting and printing out a snow image to begin work on tomorrow. I can't wait!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Peppermint Kid Finished at Last!

Happy New Year Everyone! (that is the two or three of you who actually read this blog). And let me thank you for coming to visit and sharing your comments over this past year. I really do appreciate your interest.

We had a very white Christmas this year because it's been snowing almost daily since mid November. Our kids made it up here for the holiday and back home again while dodging the bad storms, and we had a nice family time, lots of goodies to eat and many laughs.

I'm now back to thinking Art again.

On the day that we lost our Little Annie, I busied myself as much as possible and was able to put the finishing touches on Bard's portrait and sign it. What I should have felt was great elation, but all I could muster was a sigh of relief. 

After the hubbub of Christmas died down and the "kids" went back to their respective homes, I was able to get a good photo of Bard (in spite of non stop dreary days!) and then proceeded to clean up the image and do some test prints. The finished portrait has now been added to my website, and I'm contemplating offering his image as a limited edition reproduction.

Today I put things away in the studio and put The Green Team back on the easel. I'm anxious to get busy with this painting, another one that's gotten long in the tooth while waiting for completion. It would be really nice to start something new as well, but I haven't decided what yet. Possibly a fox hunting scene? A pony image? Or, perhaps a winter scene would be appropriate for this time of year.

I must remember to take my camera to the barn when I go tomorrow. Maybe with some urging, the two youngsters can be induced to provide some action. That would be fun!