Peggy


I finally received the reference photos to enable me to start another equine portrait, this time of a 32yr-old mare named Peggy. I admire horses yet find them too wilful and unpredictable to fully trust them...after all, it was a horse that broke Superman!


In essence, they are superbly evolved and majestic creatures that have become synonymous with grace and beauty, yet can still manage to throw all that panache out of the window and look like photo 2!! I really wanted to use this one but was out-voted for some reason – can’t think why....

Peggy

So begins the process....the basic outline is drawn out and colour added in rough blocks just to get a sense of tonal range. The background was then lightened and the whole painting cropped slightly to 12” x 14” as it fitted these dimensions better, giving Peggy more gravitas within the canvas.

Peggy

Next came the working up of Peggy’s facial features. This is why good reference photos are indispensible, especially when you don’t really know your subject personally as you can’t draw on any one-to-one experience. This can be a good and a bad thing – as when I painted my Ma’s dogs, because I know them so well it can sometimes hinder a pet portrait as you can get too critical about their likeness.

Peggy

The eye is worked up first as it’s just how I like to paint...it gives me a connection to the subject, almost giving the portrait a life of its’ own. The nostrils are then worked in, as picking out the fiddly folds of skin is a nice contrast to the layers of hair that is to come. The mane is given a little more form and the general colour tones are blocked in. The highlighted areas of the face are now made slightly more prominent but still toned down from the reference photo as the flash often over-emphasises them.

Peggy

Most of the work is now spent building up the facial features: highlights, shadows and general colouration. Her white blaze is worked in as it is a unique marking, and a few of the whiter hairs of age are put in on her nose. The neck is blended in better and the mane is now slightly more defined with single hair details and darkened down overall and the inside of the ears are now detailed a little more. Then the last few details are added: her very long eyelashes and whiskers and some sharpening of the facial details and that’s it...she’s done!

Peggy