Sunday, February 26, 2012

lone mustang sentinel: next painting

drawing and initial washes

i decided to continue with the horse theme but this time made him a bit player in the landscape which is just magnificent around here. we are moving into town for a larger place as we have company coming down this month and the little studio on the mustang sanctuary just won't cut it, so to speak. so i wanted to take advantage of the wide open places while we are here. here is the drawing with the initial washes. it is a piece of fabriano artistico rough paper, 140#, and 15"X21" in size. as usual i started with the figure as i want it to fit in and be thought of or look like and after thought. this is accomplished by using tie-ins with the surrounding

close up of mustang and surrounding foliage
 areas right away where the values are similar. since this stallion is white most of his definition is going to be with the use of negative shapes. this works well here as one can just drag some of the pigment in to the figure for some of the internal modelling for that and the tie-in. sort of a two-fer. all the painting is done with a #8 round and the pigments are easy enough to figure out that i won't go over them here. suffice it to say they are same ones i usually use for landscapes and shadows.....mostly earth tones with a blue or two and a green with quinacridone gold. i think the horse's head may be a bit too big but i have noticed that the mustangs seem to have a relatively larger head for their relatively smaller bodies than the paint and appaloosa that i have done previously. his right front leg needs a little enlarging in diameter as well. i'll let them stand for now but keep in mind that they may need some changing when i get to the final decisions.

nevado the appaloosa: background noodling

the majority of what remains on this painting is figuring out what to do in the background and/or fixing the stuff i have already done and, in my opinion, messed up. this is one of the problems of making each painting an adventure by not planning but i like the challenge and the risk of a failed painting is well worth it for the fun of it! i do want to try to emulate the corral behind nevado so i am going to maintain the geometric motif but try to make it a bit more homogeneous in color and texture so as to not detract from our star appaloosa too much. i like working shapes so that in one place they are positive shapes (dark against light) and move into a negative sort of shape (light against dark) as one moves to another area of the object. that is what i am going to attempt to do here and see what it looks like. i used a #16 round blue squirrel quill bush and a combination of mineral violet, quinacridone gold, and brown madder  for the background shapes and cobalt blue and burnt sienna for the railings; all for the most part mixed on the paper.

"nevado the appaloosa" 16"X20"
i think you can appreciate the dark-light and positive-negative interplay. that's all i am going to do on this painting and think i will move on to the next project....more of a figure in landscape.

Friday, February 17, 2012

nevado the appaloosa: follow-up steps

the weather hasn't been very cooperative to paint outside, to where my painting is relegated here. lots of wind and rain lately. as such i haven't had much to post. here are the next steps of the painting i am currently working on. mostly the background. i think i am going to have to tone it down a bit. its mostly what you see with loose washes of a variety of (sort of) grayish colors trying to recapitulated the geometric pattern of the fencing. soon as the weather breaks i will get back and see what i can salvage from this. 'til then stay warm and dry!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

continuing on with "nevado the appaloosa"

today i first returned to finishing the front legs with a mixed wash of cobalt blue and burnt umber/sienna applied with a #12 round brush. the lower part of the leg is white(ish) so i defined them by applying a loose negative-shape wash of brown madder with some splashes of cobalt blue (and at times quinacridone gold) being careful to keep the general direction of these spatters horizontal. i then moved to the rear end and modeled the shadows with a gray wash of cerulean blue, yellow ocher, and carmine. as usual, i charged in a bit of color/warmth/coolness after it was applied to lend some variety.
next steps on "nevado...."

this done i needed to figure out how i was going to paint the splotches of color on his rump. i decided to use a spray bottle and put down some "dots" of various sizes of clear water near the border of the brown and white. then i just touched the tip of the brush charged with paint around the border. i got the effect that you see here and i think it does what i wanted. so i softened the lower edge and moved on to the rear legs and tail. again the same colors as the rest of the horse up to this point. his rump being white, i described some of the rear end by the darker foliage behind and made that a negative shape to define the curve. by this time i had more or less decided that the background is going to be a collection of loose rectangles formed by the fence railings and posts against the foliage. with that in mind i started adding them with a varied wash of quinacridone gold, mineral violet and brown madder. i think there is a little cobalt in there where i thought it was getting a little too warm. it started looking to me like his trunk was a little too stout but i carefully measured the proportions from both the reference photo and from him (just steps away from the porch where i was painting) and decided it wasn't off by much...maybe an 1/8 to a 1/4 of and inch. i can easily change that when i paint it, assuming i remember! i still haven't decided how to render the railings and posts but i think at this point that a mixture of positive and negative shapes might work best. we'll see. that's all for right now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

nevado the appaloosa

this is another big horse especially for an appaloosa. about the same size as tanka. they make quite a sight out in the paddock. i can't imagine what a spectacle they make out running together on a ride. i am starting to get an idea of horse anatomy, proportion, and the way that i want to paint them.

 i started out with a line drawing on 16"X20" 140# cold press paper. i always seem to start with the nose no matter what the species the face is on! i used a #8 round kolinski brush that points well here. i put the shadow wash on the white areas first with a neutral wash of cerulean blue, yellow ocher, and carmine. once on i softened some edges with clear water after a good rinse and shake. then if i want to add a little warmth or coolness i can charge in a bit of one of the primary colors wet-in-wet. moving on to the darker colors i will say that they are composed of burnt sienna burnt umber, cobalt blue, and very infrequently ultramarine blue where the very darkest areas are. the technique i use puts the paint down almost as it comes right from the tube and mixes it on the paper with a moist to wet brush depending on the effect and value of the area i am painting. after the face was painted i went on to the body/chest. for this i used a #12 round. i put down dabs of darker paint where i wanted the darkest values to be and then after rinsing and shaking the bush i joined these small swatches of color together. that made the lighter value areas in between the darker. i made some tie-ins with the background using the fence as a vehicle for this. i think it was cobalt blue and burnt sienna. just above his neck i put in a swatch of quinacridone gold to see if that would work for the foliage behind him. i think it will. off to play golf so i will let this rest until the next time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

last steps on big paint (tanka): just a little tweeking

instead of taking away i decided to add a little. i know this seems counter-intuitive with my mini-tirade about less is more..blah, blah, blah. but there was just too much to scrub away so i tried to mitigate the problems with some thoughtful(?) additions. first i removed the reddish wash under his belly and the blue shadow on his belly. i then added a yellow ocher wash for reflected light on the horse and a cooler bluish-green field behind. at least this made the horse come forward and the background recede. not a great fix but passable i think. i then splattered paint on the back and fore ground to suggest uneven dirt, etc. i used a #12 round with pretty wet paint and spattered increasingly warm, dark, and larger splashes as i moved forward. these need to read horizontally if they are to give the illusion of flat ground. at this time i decided that i had inflicted enough on this sheet of paper and painting and declared it finished. the horse's name is tanka so i renamed the painting "sunka tanka" or big dog in lakota which is the horse's full real on-paper name.
"sunka tanka" 16"X20"

Friday, February 3, 2012

less is (way) more: lessons from "big paint"

next steps: big paint
i got a little too enthusiastic with the background on this one and in my opinion made a bit of a mess of it. i think i can do some scrubbing and fix it to a certain degree, but it seems i constantly need to remind myself that in painting "less is more" is almost always a good dictum. much of the problem here stemmed from making my tie-ins from figure to background with paint rather than just bleeding the edge with clear water to lose the edge into some potential space around the horses and adding the background later after i was sure that i knew what i wanted to do. the other glaring thing that i see is the background under the belly and chest of the horse is warm which is making it advance against the cool of the shadow on the horse. i either should have made the horse belly warmer...perhaps reflected light using yellow ocher?...or made the background cooler. that would have made the background recede and the horse advance. i will try lifting off the brown madder wash and putting down a cooler greenish oxide of chromium....which i used in other places for the desert prairie.