feature_squeaky2

A Portrait’s Journey; Part 4

Finishing a Painting

Last but not least… the final post has arrived in this series documenting the creation of a one of a kind portrait of a one of a kind Thoroughbred named Squeaky! But first a quick recap (with links)…

Photo Session – Basically a chance for Squeaky to beg for treats by making some of the goofiest faces I’ve seen on a horse… unwittingly giving me some of the most thoughtful poses in between the funny ones that would give me so much of material to work with.

Squeaky’s Sketches – After going through a stringent selection process between me and Katie (my client and the human that Squeaky owns) I get to sketching and preparing to move to canvas.

Blank Canvas – The sketch has been transferred to the canvas, and the palette has been mixed… it’s about to get real up in here! The painting has been started… ready for me to bring it home!

How we last left Squeaky painting...

How we last left Squeaky painting…

So… I’ll pick up where I left off (left)… which was, unfortunately, the ugly stage.  My motivation hits both a high and low point simultaneously here… it can be so easy to get lost in despair with thoughts of “what if it only gets worse, and this is the best it will have ever looked?”… or “darn, I just got burnt sienna on my favorite sweater…” (ok, just kidding, sweaters in the desert are like Mr. Snuffleupagus… imaginary).  But I try to always choose the other, better thought process… the “I will make it better, whatever it takes…” approach.

Now comes the hard part… conveying in words what I do in paint instinctively. The goal at this point is to refine the shapes and contours by defining the shadows, highlights and the in-between areas that transition between the two (I call them mid tones – much less shagtastic as the Dorktones, but works better in a painting). It’s how the mid tones bridge the shadows and the highlights that is important in suggesting the shape of a surface. To project the illusion of skin over muscle and bones is a challenging and beautiful thing indeed!

I finally start adding some mane, and put some work in on the neck/chest area…

After the last round I noticed the nostril and general muzzle area has shifted, so the next round focused mainly on correcting that…

Time to give more attention to details like the eye, mane and ears along with upping the value ranges (darker darks, lighter lights)…

I’m now working on the final session, really hitting the values, and getting a nice finish on the mane, ears, eyes and muzzle… so excited to be over the hump, this is pretty much the finished piece…

Bonus Detail Shots!

Mane’s can be tricky. I paint the horse as if they’ve had their mane roached to start. I want to create the surface that will be under the mane, since the hairs rarely cover completely, before starting to build the mane itself. I also prefer not to try to paint in every hair with a teeny weeny “two-hair” brush… it’s not necessary as the human eye will read it as hair regardless – and being overly detailed can end up looking rather unnatural pretty quickly.

Eye’s are the window to the horses soul, and the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae that is one of my paintings. I enjoy working on them so much that I save them for last, aka dessert. Lighting and highlights can vary, there is a great juxtaposition in the fact that while being deep, dark and transparent, they’re also very reflective of the world around them. I try to cover both ends of the spectrum in paint. I consider the eyes as highly important, probably the part that I get the most comments on by horse and non-horse people alike – people are drawn to an eye done well.

So aside from some minor tweaking and adjustments, I’m pretty much ready to call this one done… on to the next! Thanks for taking this journey with me, it was both fun and enlightening for me to take the time to log my process, and it appears that I’m not the only one that has enjoyed it… I may have to do this again sometime!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,