Mickey Blue Eyes

This is a photograph of a young horse who was found in a field in Essex in a very poor state of health. He was nursed back to this wonderful looking animal by the Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society. When I saw this photograph in a local newspaper article I immediately wanted to make a painting of him.

I started with a line drawing of the outline. I drew in the eye, shape of mouth, nostrils and ears, with a very light pencil stroke as I knew I was going to rub these shapes out just before I was going to paint them. I also marked in the areas that were going to be chromatic blacks.

I mixed up my palette: chromatic blacks, and a brown. I started my painting with the ears, using a red biased chromatic black for the part of the inside of the ear that is showing and a darker chromatic for the outer part. I worked down the shape of the head, being guided by the pattern on the coat in the photograph. I painted in the eye using a chromatic black and a light wash of ultramarine blue. For the side of the face in view, I used a weak wash of a dark brown and then impress drew lines to represent the veins showing through the skin. I painted the nose with a very very weak wash of rose madder (i.e. pink) and painted in the shape of the mouth using a fine pointed brush.

I then painted the larger areas of chromatic on the coat. When that was 100% dry I used a titanium white acrylic to painted in the white/yellow hairs of the horse’s coat. I then painted the white areas of the coat with my titanium white acrylic.

I then painted in the background. I used a wash of cerulean blue mixed with an ultramarine blue. I painted the sky wet on wet and then lifted out some of the colour to represent cloud, using a natural sponge.

I painted in the grass, working in glazes. I applied a strong wash (50% paint to 50% water) of a sap green. When that was dry I applied a second stronger wash. When that was dry I took a large round headed brush and used a dab brushstroke to apply nearly neat brushstrokes of an emerald green. I varied the pressure of the brushstroke to suggest light and dark areas.

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