Harness racing painting query

I have a painting I have started for the local racecourse (to barter for my paddocks getting mown). I took photos some years ago at the races and am using one of them for this.  I know it is not finished, however, I am worried the horse rugs hanging on the stable door to the right of the painting, may be confusing.
Would it be better if I had a horse head poking out the door?
Should I put a baseball cap on the grey haired "head" to stop it getting lost against the breezeblock wall behind?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


  • The person behind is lost but very likely just a cap won't help it. What if they will be facing us with one arm visible and doing something on the harness?
  • edited January 10
    What is the focal point? Generally we are influenced by whatever the figures in the painting are looking at - their line of sight, but everyone is looking away. So what is the subject? To me the focal point is the harness on the shoulder of the horse telling us "this is harness racing", (which is part of the romance for those involved) with secondary the hand on the rein - and although we will glance at the heads they appear deliberately obscured as if to say, we know people are involved but this is the yard preparing the horse with its athletic strength. So if that's correct (but it's just my thoughts) I would use selective focus to tell us exactly what we are looking at - very crisp focus on the muscularity of the horse and the physicality of the harness and make the metal gleam: This is harness racing => secondary focus on the men => blur the background and that foreground horse as i think you are doing. In which case to put a blurred horse's face in the back will be easier to paint and will use the horse's gaze to bounce us back towards the subject. I would do it sans detail, sans crispness like bushes, maybe sans visible eyes or it will draw us away.
    Just thoughts for whatever they are worth.
  • "Thanks in advance for any suggestions"

    It's a poor source photo. All the action is away from the viewer. 

    Personally I'd find or take a different photo.

    Making things up will waste your painterly skills and leave your customer unsatisfied.

    Sorry if this is harsh. Build on stone rather than mud.
  • I think I agree. I was trying to find a way to make it work.
  • Accepted.  Thanks you to all who have tried to help.  A sibling of mine had difficulty understanding it also, hence posting here.
    Thank you @outremer, @Abstraction, and @heartofengland for your honesty and help.  I will scrap the background altogether, put a generic grass and hill behind as our local track has, and just have the horse as it is with harness on as if it is walking along.  If it does not work like that, I shall scrap it altogether.
    @heartofengland, I have so rarely used one photo as a resource, I can just about count them on one hand.    I had thought to have a "rest" this time and just copy rather than create; but maybe next time time.  I might throw some photos up and see which ones people think will work as a painting.  I will see how I get on.
    Thanks again, now to work...
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