Pulling a failing painting of a horse from the brink of imminent demise.

Occasionally I hit a block while working on a piece, and in few of those cases I finally have to step back and put it away. With there’s other pieces to be worked on, the poor, lost-it’s-way canvas goes into the “unfinished” stack… kind of an Island of Misfit Toys for paintings that very few emerge from to be worked on again.

Lorenzo - Spanish Barb

This is about one of the lucky ones, a painting of a kind and flashy bay overo Spanish Barb gelding named Lorenzo. I photographed Lorenzo at the Southern Arizona Horse Expo two years ago, he seemed like a horse that needed to be painted. Not long after, I started working on the painting, and it seemed to start out with so much promise… but at some point near being finished it just seemed to stall, and nothing I tried to get it back on track seemed to help. So away it went, out of sight, out of mind.

Lorenzo - first edition (not quite there yet).
Lorenzo – first edition (not quite there yet).

But it never was quite out of my mind, and recently I got a glimpse of it as I was digging through past work. I retrieved it and decided it was time to see if I could help it find it’s way back. After some reconnaissance work in Photoshop with images of it’s current lost state to test out some possible fixes completely risk-free… I came up with a resurrection plan.

Lorenzo: Spanish Barb 16 x 20 oil on canvas
Lorenzo – final edition (welcome back)!

I started with some recoloring of the background, followed by building the depth of color in the horse, refining other areas like the eyes, muzzle and forelock, and finally – putting his halter (in the original photo) back on… his face just seemed better framed with it on and it added an air of dignity.

Amazing how a fresh look after some time put aside (a technique I often use shorter term to break through these blocks) can bring a piece out of the dungeon and into the light.