I decided we could work from this photo today. It isn't the greatest photo, the light was bad, and it was kind of dull.
To add some interest to our painting, let's crop it to this view! It brings the horse up close to us.
Now we'll start to draw our horse onto the paper. I'm using a gessoed matboard. I gesso the boards on all sides, and give them about three coats. If you're using watercolor, which I am, be sure you don't touch the boards after you've prepared them. The oil on your hands will create a resist to the watercolor paint and you'll have blotchy spots.
Here are my first marks on the paper. I'm using burnt umber. It's a little grainy because it's an earth tone, but I'm using it anyway. It does wipe off clean if I make a mistake, which is nice in the drawing stage.
I'm now adding some more lines, and some background color. Sometimes when your horse doesn't stand out very much, begin to throw some back ground in, it will help your horse come to life. I used thalo blue and thalo green for background color. I threw it on randomly, who cares at this point?
At this point, I added some yellow ochre around the horse's nose. Put in a hint of mane, using French Ultramarine Blue. I use it instead of thalo on the horse because the thalo is staining, it won't wipe clean if you want to move it around. I've added some shadows, highlights and details around the eye. Shaded the back some, put in a hint of shoulder muscles.
Now, I darkened the background by adding some green over the blue and blue over the green. I keep the background darker behind the white of the horse, and lighter behind the brown of the horse. I added burnt sienna to the horse's face to give it some orange tints. Orange and blue are complementary colors, and I like to use them together. I blended along the edge of where the mane begins on the neck. I added some lines in the mane by taking an almost dry brush and rubbing the lines in. I work the highlights the same way on the horse's face. I leave his rump area burnt umber, because I don't want your eye sticking on that place. Our focal point is the face of the horse.
The background felt kind of "raw" to me. I took my big Chinese Hake brush, with the bamboo handle. I dipped it in the water, swished it around, then dropped it into a paper towel. I didn't rub it dry. Just touched it to the towel.
After that, I dipped it into the burnt sienna paint (using a pan watercolor set) and swished it around, I wanted some fairly strong paint on that brush. I then took the brush and smooshed it against the paper in random places. Sometimes, I kind of roll the brush across the surface, the idea is to create random patterns and this brush works best for this. I did the same thing with the thalo blue paint after the sienna had dried. I keep a hair dryer at my desk for drying the painting between applications.
When you work on this surface, you can carefully lay one color on top of another, so long as you do not scrub or rub the brush in anyway. Let each layer dry, before you add another layer.
I also laid in a layer of orange on the horse's face to give him some more color.
I added some lines for the short mane that falls on the withers. I lightened an area over the hip. I worked finding details in the face. After I have several layers of paint on the animal, I can work in details by taking my almost dry brush, and rubbing back ward into the paint. It creates highlights and details. I must be feeling close to finished, because I signed my name.
I shortened the left ear, and added some burnt sienna lines at the base of it, on the neck, that area stood out to much. I added some French Ultramarine Blue on the withers, it brightened up the face. It's 10:30, so I'll stop for tonight. When I look at this again in the morning, I might soften that mane on the withers so it blends more into the rest of the mane.
Hope you enjoyed this painting lesson. Email your painting to me, and I'll post it on the blog! I'll add it right to this post.
I hope the directions were good enough, and had enough demonstrations so you could tell what I did as I went along.
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Remember, you can find horse art, wildlife art, cow art, and animal paintings, for sale on my website.