I conceived this horse portrait with the aim of including water.  I love the reflections from water and the delicate ripples and water is not a subject that I have painted before.  I do love a challenge.  This was to be my first piece for my Hampshire Open Studios exhibition in August.

Sketch and underpainting

Here is my rough charcoal outline on white velour.  With the vivid blue water I felt that the only colour to start on was white.

My next step was to get all the shadows roughly marked out and then start working on the chaotic background of trodden down leaves, bracken and grass.  I’m so tempted at this stage to start the horse in pastel but I hold back because that background is equally as important. I like to save the best bits until last.

With a rough background in place I start laying down some pastel on the horse to block out the white.  No detail at this stage just defining dark and light sections.


Now I’m getting into the detail and my favourite part, eyes.  I really want his eyes to be looking up as if he’s clocked that we are watching but still taking a cool drink.

His neck is all mane, but under his mane obviously is his coat so I have to paint that first otherwise his mane will look wrong.  Soft pastels are just perfect for a horses very short velvety coat.

At this point I got side tracked.  Something was wrong or perhaps I was just too close to it and I just wasn’t happy with it.  So I put it in a frame on my wall and there it stayed for 8 months.  My son told me daily that I had to finish it.  He’s only 3!  He thought I’d missed his legs as they are white.  So everyday I walked passed it in my hallway and gradually this dear horse grew on me and I got it down to finish him.

there’s more info here to learn how to commission me to create your horse portrait painting.