Lucia's Horse Portrait

I have been asked to provide more detail and description of the painting process and techniques I use when painting pet portraits. This is what I will blog about.

In creating this horse portrait of two beautiful horses in the forest, my purpose was to produce a detailed and realistic depiction of these two majestic animals, with an inviting, soft feel throughout the painting. This portrait was painted using various techniques to create great depth and colour harmony, and to reveal my own unique style and finish. I started on this portrait by setting up my painting area away from direct sunlight, in a space with proper and adequate ventilation. I found my focal point and sketched out the backdrop of the scene, adding a horizon line and trees. I then determined where each horse would be placed in the portrait and outlined their shapes in proportion to the rest of the scene, while keeping the photographs of the horses on hand as a reference point. This ensured that I was able to accurately depict each beautiful horse.

To establish the depth I was seeking to create, I used a range of shades for the coat of each horse, as opposed to simply using a flat brown. A horse’s coat has so much depth and radiance to it that it’s best painted by glazing. Building up the colour through multiple layers rather than premixing colours and using a single layer of paint allows the deep richness of each horse’s coat to come out through the combination of the hues. Layering colors allowed the patterns and textures of the reflection of light and shadows to show through in the painting. There are certain parts of each horse’s mane that gives the illusion of light bouncing off of it, which was created by layering paint. There is a dark brown base, but there are red overtones in each horse’s coat, which was created by building up layers of semi-transparent colours.

I also used a technique called gradation to create a slow transition between opposites, as seen in the slow transition of larger trees becoming smaller. If you pay attention to the line of the trees, the farther back you look, the darker they get, the smaller they are and the less detailed they become. The gradation technique incorporated into this painting is what creates an overall harmony in this portrait and what ties together things that would otherwise compete with one another. It’s important to build the painting towards you from the farthest point to the closest, which is what adds depth to the painting.

The final result is a detailed, high quality oil painting portrait. I was able to use the photographs provided by the owner Lucia to create a personalised painting encompassing each horse’s unique characteristic, personality and appearance. This horse portrait celebrates and immortalises these two horses.