I’ve got a ladies evening for Macmillan Cancer coming up and it dawned on me that I have nothing to demonstrate my style except photos of past commissions. Doh!  So this portrait is for my own collection.  the horse is called Riverdance-H aka Hans from a photo by Teresa Kercher who’s mum owns the horse.

I like to show the different styles that are possible with portraits and Riverdance was so striking in character and expression I felt that a background was not needed for such a magnificent horse.  So I set to work with my sketch on paper and then transferred it to the Velour paper that I use for animals.  Velour paper does not take kindly to rubbing out so transferring it this way is much neater.


Without a background I can delve into my favourite bit – his eye!  Riverdance’s expression is full of character and I want to make sure I get every ounce of that in my work so I spent a lot of time getting this perfect.


This is the first horse that I’ve done with bridal and it was quite a challenge on a small piece like this.  It’s framed size is 12×8 and for soft pastels this is a challenge getting really good detail on the bridal so I’ll be recommending a larger size for future portraits – perhaps 10×14 minimum.  I’ve started work on his bridal because it goes under his main that falls over his face – the rest I will leave until the end so I can get crisp / sharp edges to represent the leather.


As with all my portraits I’m working from dark to light and in layers.  His bridal is forcing me to work in sections which i thought would be annoying but it’s quite useful and really focuses my attention on the detail.


sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do first – I wanted to leave his white marking until the end but some of it was under his main so I had to add it earlier than I otherwise would have – it turned out okay though.  Again, due to the small size I couldn’t get as much detail as I’d wanted but I’ll know for next time.


On the the final stages of the detailing on the straps with incredibly sharp pencils.  I have to sharpen them by hand with sand paper as despite pencil sharpeners saying they are good for pastel pencils they really aren’t and instead the break my pencils and waste so much pastel.  I’ve finally perfected the art of using a knife and sandpaper to get a very sharp point.


Here he is finished and ready for framing.  Below is the original photo.  Because he’s for my own collection I’ve used my artistic licence to add more character to his eye – I love the way he’s looking in both – so intense – he could be sad or happy but certainly a very friendly, honourable horse.


I hope you enjoyed the making of Riverdance’s horse portrait, if you’d like to commission a portrait for yourself or a friend there’s lots of information here and you’re welcome to phone me for an informal chat. Tel: 07740 282399