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This commission recently got me painting again after a 12 year hiatus.


I am not sure about putting the source photo up, since it was a commission.   Suffice to say, it was only 124 KB file size, blurry, showed 3/4 of the horse and was taken in a shed with no light reflection in the eye. 
 I have not met the horse, which made it difficult to know how to approach getting his character to come out in the pic.    I always think you may as well have a nice photo on the wall, if the painting of it does not express more than the original photograph.
The trainer commissioned this for the owner.   A week prior to collection, the horse had to be destroyed, due to a newly sustained paddock injury.    Bittersweet timing.
I hope the owners get some joy out of it.   
I had trouble stopping work on it.   I kept finding myself "tweaking"  bits whilst waiting for it to be collected.   Then I read somewhere words to the effect...."You never finish a painting, you just stop working on it"   Very apt for this picture!
I did not varnish it, but did oil it out a few times.  I also painted it on gessoed craft plywood since no canvasses were available in the town I live.   I probably did it all wrong for longevity, it is a leaning curve and why I suppose, my pics are not worth a fortune (lack of talent aside)! 
I found it hard to give the client what they would be happy with, verses, how I want to explore looser and less photorealistic pictures.
I will put up one I did of my horse at the same time in another thread, to show a comparison.  I think it shows more of the personality of the horse and a "life" however, I know him quite well, so that probably helped.
Below are some of the studies I made for this work, to help it all come together.  There was one the client loved, but was on paper and not good enough for me to feel comfortable selling since I ruined it.  The finished work is a better painting all round, but I am not sure if it captures the actual horse as well, since I did not meet him.






Any comments and suggestions welcomed.  
thanks

Comments

  • edited June 3
    I don't know much about horses but your painting looks good to me, @toujours. Given that you had very poor source material I think you made a fine job of it.  It's a handsome horse. I like the sky, too. Except for the little bit of cloud between his ears which looks too thick and bright, Since the photo you were working from was taken indoors I guess you had to invent the sky. I find it very hard to paint anything from imagination so, we'll done!  :)
  • It;s a good painting no doubt. I haven't done any horse painting but if the client sees their horse in your painting then the job's well done. I don't see any inconsistencies between the drawing and the final painting. Looks good.
  • Thanks for that.
    Tassieguy, yes,   I struggled with the clouds between the ears and wondered if others would notice it.   Lost count of the number of times I wiped it clean and started again.  The ears themselves began to form a ridge of paint on the edges and I ended up having to scrape it off and do some of the ears again as well.   
    I was not sure if the clouds were not overdone and dramatic, but each time I lessened them, the sky did not seem to match the painting, so in the end I just stopped working on them.    I did think at the time that I need to do some cloud paintings to learn how to do them naturally without labouring the point.

    It is funny.  I am not sure how other people work, but I find somethings are easy to paint and just grow without the need for a reference image, where as some things are impossible to paint without an image in front of you.   Perhaps it is a familiarity thing?   If you pat a dog often enough, you can draw them from memory?   If you collect firewood for long enough, you can draw a log from memory? Maybe not.  Maybe it is just one of those things since I drive a car every day and for the life of me I could not paint one without an image to follow.

    kaustavM - Horses are not easy. You can spend a lifetime grooming them, working with them in all their moods and personalities and spend hours marveling at how their skin plays over their muscles as they move at their different gaits,  You can spend years observing how the hair reflects the light at certain angles and times of year, how the ligaments and tendons of the legs interact as the leg moves etc....and they can still be difficult to capture. 

    It can be tricky if it is a horse with a conformation fault.  If you paint that fault, it can make the painting look like it was painted by someone who does not understand horses, or, it can emphasise a fault the owner was not aware of and thinks you have made a mistake.   Things like a bad angled shoulder, pasterns too short, croup angles incorrect, gullet set the wrong way can all be life and death for getting a horse right.
    In short, they are less forgiving than a tree to paint.    Didn't Munnings say something about horses being the easy thing to paint and the ladies on top being more difficult because they wanted smaller feet than they were in real life, or a shorter nose than they actually had!?  I too must admit to finding horses easier than humans.
  • edited June 3
    Yes, @toujours. I think some people are better at it than others. I only paint landscapes these days and sometimes a hill will be in slightly the wrong place or a rock needs to be moved to get a composition I'm happy with. But in those cases I can see what I need to do because although things need nudging I already have their colour and value and general shape.  If I had to paint a landscape from scratch using only imagination I don't think I could pull it off. I have an eye for beauty but I have to have a visual handle on it before I can paint it. And I'm an incorrigible realist. If I don't think I can make a subject look believable I won't paint it.

    The proportions of your horses look good. You obviously know something about horses. In terms of colour and value, if you watch Mark's free videos and put his method into practice I'm sure you could paint incredibly realistic horses and other things that you could enter into competitions and probably sell.  :)
  • Great job @toujours. I recently painted my neighbor’s show horse as a gift. We went out and took pictures of the horse in motion, galloping around a pasture. You’re correct about it not being easy to paint a horse. The body is so thick and muscular versus the relatively spindley legs and then the head and neck area. If you get any of it out of proportion then the whole thing looks off. Congratulations on a fine job with this one. 
  • HondoRW said:
    Great job @toujours. I recently painted my neighbor’s show horse as a gift. We went out and took pictures of the horse in motion, galloping around a pasture. You’re correct about it not being easy to paint a horse. The body is so thick and muscular versus the relatively spindley legs and then the head and neck area. If you get any of it out of proportion then the whole thing looks off. Congratulations on a fine job with this one. 
    Thank you.  Did you post a photo of the painting you did on here?  I would love to see how you you approached your work and the end result.  Great gift for your neighbours.   
  • @toujours Well...I'm not much of a horse painter but I'll try to paint a horse in the near future for training me in this. I'm really bad at animals and flowers.  :/
  • kaustavM said:
    @toujours Well...I'm not much of a horse painter but I'll try to paint a horse in the near future for training me in this. I'm really bad at animals and flowers.  :/
    A bit like learning to ride a horse, you can't do it, until you start.....
    Look forward to seeing your results.
    kaustavM
  • @toujours said:
      Thank you.  Did you post a photo of the painting you did on here?  I would love to see how you you approached your work and the end result.  Great gift for your neighbours.
    No, I didn’t post it because I didn’t consider it my best work. Fortunately my neighbors loved it anyway. But here it is along with the reference photo I took at their place. 


    Reference photo…

    tassieguyArtGal
  • I think it's wonderful, @HondoRW. The blue/green/gray of the trees and distant hills provides great  atmospheric perspective and you've captured the movement of the horse really well. I'm not surprised your neighbors loved it.  :)
  • Good first time try.
    As a landscape, it is fantastic.
    I agree, the horse does not match the landscape for quality.
    In a few places you have mistaken the line of muscles and this has created a horse with conformation one would pass over at a sale!  I have made such mistakes myself many times.   
    It comes down to knowing the animal enough to be able to recognise where it is going wrong.   Just look at the trouble so many people have doing humans and we are all pretty familiar with human anatomy.    Horses, dogs, etc... are no different.   That is why there are so many ghastly paintings of tigers and elephants etc... out there.  Most people have never run their hands over them, seem how shadows are created by the bones and tendons creating specific crevices.  There is always so much going on with muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and hair, that the camera fails to capture or distorts.   The photo may work, but a faithful reproduction in paint will not; unless the painter is aware of what should be there, not just what seems to be there.

    I just started a horse today, and have made it too short, even though the angle it is at does shorten the body.

    I can give you a few pointers as to where to concentrate the next time you try if you like?
  • Thanks @tassieguy. I really didn’t mean to hijack @toujours post. 
    @toujours - by all means, I would be happy to get some pointers for next time! Thank you!
  • HondoRW - Your messaged pics received and reply sent.   Hope it helps.
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