Thursday, 29 June 2017

White Horses Study (No 2)

an oil painting of white horses galloping in the sea and emerging from the waves. Inspired by the myth of Poseidon

A second study of Poseidon's white horses galloping in the waves. 

This is painted on A4 MDF board. I gessoed it with white acrylic gesso with turquoise acrylic paint stirred in. I was none too fussy about  smoothing it out as I wanted a textured surface to make me loosen up with the paint application. 

Having decided the positioning of the horses before hand, I pushed the gesso around a bit so it is not quite so rough in the upper centre of the board, where they were to be placed. 

I drew the horses out first on a bit of paper, based on about 100 internet images of white horses together with my own toy horses that I bought from the toy shop, like these:

me with my horse painting and the horse models

Toy shops are wonderful. It is fab to have an excuse to go in them again and buy things. I also have cows, sheep, cats and dogs in my toy basket. Very helpful for compositions! 

Also I have got some skulls - you can see Yorick immediately behind me in this photo, although he is not real, he is made of resin. Real ones can be obtained from medical equipment suppliers but they are vastly expensive and also a bit creepy, don't you think?

These are real, though. I found them over many walks with the dog :

So, back row from left to right: a sheep's skull - found on Dartmoor; a roe or fallow deer stag (not sure which), found in the forest down the road and thirdly a red deer stag, found in the same forest. At the front: a fox cub skull, same forest. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

White Horses Study (No 1)

oil painting of white horses emerging from breaking waves and a foaming sea
White horses have a magical part to play in mythologies from around the world. In Greek mythology - the source of my inspiration - the sea god Poseidon had a son called Pegasus. A magnificent, winged white horse. Poseidon was also the creator of horses, making them out of the breaking waves.

One of the most famous paintings of Poseidon's white horses was by Walter Crane, an English artist and illustrator 1845-1915. Here is a study "Neptune's Horses" that he painted in 1892 (Neptune is the Roman name for the Greek god Poseidon - same bloke).

Walter Crane a study of Neptune's white horses

and a painting on the same theme from 1910. Walter made several pieces on the theme and I am going to try to do the same.

Walter Crane, Neptune's Horses, 1910

I was lucky enough to see this one - or maybe a version of it, I am not sure how many he painted - at an exhibition of animal art the other year at the Russell Coates in Bournemouth - easily my favourite Art Gallery/Museum.

I have had a go at painting a multiple horse version as well and will post that next week, hopefully. Have a lovely weekend and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Sheltie Study No 3

Oil painting of a sheltie, back view, looking up and waiting
This sheltie painting is a re-work of a previous favourite using a golden colour scheme.
I had a couple of other sheltie pieces lined up for this series but have decided to leave them for now and move on to something else, so for next week - expect something completely different!
Have a lovely weekend everyone and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Sheltie Study No 2

oil painting of a sheltie with his nose on his paw in golden colours

A little oil painting of a sheltie with his nose on his paw in golden colours. This is one of those pieces that I have photographed a number of times and still can't get a result quite as nice as the original. I started with a rejected board re-coated with  a gesso that I had coloured a soft pink, using burnt sienna. 

I painted the dog in two steps: all the darker fur, or at any rate all the fur that did not need white, then when that was dry - everything else. I twice attempted to paint him all in one go, but this combo of colours and long fur is still very hard for me to do in one pass and it resulted in wipers and frustration.
I would have had to settle for a much more impressionistic result in order to pull it off. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Sheltie Studies No 1

Oil sketch of two shelties, one facing forwards, one with her back to us, A4 size
Two studies of a Sheltie, front and rear view, painted in thin oil colour. 

After a difficult week or so when everything I touched went wrong, I have decided to go back to painting dogs for a bit! I love these dogs. 

My own dog is half sheltie although he doesn't look anything like these two.
My black and white sheltie, poodle mix breed dog

To make the painting, I wiped some very thin raw umber and olive green paint over the prepared surface. The surface is an A4 MDF board which I had previously primed with acrylic gesso, stirring a bit of burnt sienna acrylic paint into the gesso first.

This is something I do quite often - it provides a warm, lightly toned surface to paint on and it is a useful start for any subject which has a lot of warm browns or reds in them.

Or greens, come to that because red and green are complementaries so the two together "sing" more vividly than on their own.

The shelties were painted in two passes: a darker under painting - this was to capture the shadows that would subsequently show through the longer, paler fur and then, when this was pretty much dry, I put the lighter fur on top.

At the end of the first stage it looked rubbish. It is important not to dive in with the "correct" colours too soon, I find, or it all mixes up and makes a muddy mess. 

I dried stage 1 (ugly duckling stage) by turning the board to the wall. So I don't have to look at it. Less temptation to fiddle.

Speaking of dry, it is tipping with rain here in soggy Devon. A good day for painting, then.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Sunlit pasture

Oil painting of a white mare and her chestnut foal standing in sunlit pasture
Most of this small painting was worked with a palette knife. I used one in order to try not to over-fuss the piece. 
I decided on the colours beforehand and pre-mixed four colour/value chains, two for each horse: one to use for the light and one to represent the shade. Despite this precaution it was still tricky disentangling all those legs.
The legs presented the same conundrum as trees against the sky in landscape painting: do you paint the branches first or the sky first? The legs or the pasture? 
There is no right answer, of course. I did a combination of both.

Thursday, 1 June 2017


oil painting, still life with oranges and paint
A still life, this week, just for a change. Using my favourite paint - Rembrandt - and a set up on a large piece of blue velvet.
Painted with a brush and a palette knife, I used both the indirect method for the background, paint tube and brush (i.e. I painted it in layers, allowing each layer to dry) and the indirect method for the oranges (i.e. I painted these in one sitting).