Matting and framing the boys

Urco, framed

Urco, framed

The mat board I ordered online for the boys’ framing turned out to look just fine. Although I knew I wanted a dark gray and cream with a hint of orange, I was really guessing when I bought the boards because it is hard to tell true colors from the monitor.  And you can’t put it right up to the picture either, so the subtle color combinations (good or bad) you can see in person are lost.   It was disappointing that the mats I picked out at Michael’s couldn’t be purchased so I was kind of forced to try with these that aren’t acid free.  I don’t think my friend will mind.  I did find some nice frames at two for one there so I am pleased with that.

Felix, framed

Felix, framed

These frames came with a double black mat, and if you can believe it, the exact size that I wanted.  How often does that happen with custom art and not just a photo?  Rarely, for me.  So I had to try both mats and make a choice.  Here is one horse in my double mat and the other in the black mat that came with the frames.  It’s funny, but when they were laying on the table I liked them both, but when I hung them up to photograph, I thought the multicolor one looked better and I think I will go with that.  What do you think?

Urco finished

All done

All done

I finally finished Urco and decided that I would add the names at the bottom.  Not only does it identify each horse, but it also cuts into that expanse of pine board that I’m iffy about.  I hope she will hang him with her USDF bronze medal and certificate.

I went to Michaels and spent half an hour picking out just the right colors for the double mat.  I figured I could buy a sheet each of the archival mat boards and cut the mats at home.  I have bought board from them before, but this time, because it wasn’t standard stock, they would not order it for me unless they did the framing.  I didn’t want to spend that much since I can do it myself, so I went on line and tried to get the closest thing I could.  Not my first choice, of course. Colors are iffy on-line so I am keeping my fingers crossed that the outer, neutral mat color will work.  Monday I’ll know.

Maybe I’ll post them both framed up next week.  Would you like to see that?

Only half way

Urco - second session

Urco – second session

As I was looking at Urco in person last Thursday at my riding lesson, I said to myself, yes, the picture needs to be darker, especially in the mane area.  I managed to work some on Urco’s portrait earlier in the week, but it still needs more. I want the black to be more definite and not just look like shadowing on a chestnut horse.  He really is quite dark about the head, just not all black like Felix.  It is a little bit delicate at this point, balancing the bronzy tones with the black.

I have been debating putting their names in the lower right and I think I will.  I’m not really loving the lower board area and I think it will help put the focus back onto the face as well as break up that expanse nicely.  What do you think?

Starting Urco’s color

Watercolor prelim

Watercolor preliminary

I started to lay in the the base watercolors last week and so far it seems okay.  I have to take care that the black part of Urco’s dark bay coloring doesn’t overwhelm his lovely bronze base color.  Just as in Felix’s portrait, the darks will be the problem.  Fortunately, Urco also has a very small slit shaped star on his forehead which should relieve some of the black expanse.

I think that this is about a third of the way in.  The colors all need to be deepened quite a bit, but I like his expression.  He has a very kind eye and delicate nose.

Felix with preliminary watercolor

Felix with some watercolor

Felix with some watercolor

I decided to jump right in and start watercoloring Felix.  Sometimes it is just better to dive in, come what may.  If I think too much about what I want to do, I start to get overly cautious.  So far I like the black, but I think it needs to be darker in places.  It’s not quite clear that he is a black horse yet and I haven’t decided whether or not to add his “worried” eyebrow.  The trick, as always, is not to overdo it.

I will be taking a short break on Felix, which is probably not a bad thing.  I already see some parts to darken.  I got a house commission over the weekend and will have to devote the drawing table to getting it out.  It is on the small side, so it will be quick, but it has some very cute eave details.

Inked Felix



Here is the preliminary inking of Felix.  He is a black horse (my nemesis in pet portraits as black is so hard) so the interplay between the ink and the watercolors will be interesting.  I will have to be aware of the light reflections off of his coat so he doesn’t get overly dark.  I also don’t necessarily want the watercolors to overwhelm the inking, but it may turn out that the inking is more of a guideline for the coloring than an accent feature.

He often has a slightly worried look on his face, indicated by a slight upward pucker in his eyebrows and it is so characteristic of him that I think it has to be there at some level.  He really is a bit of a Nervous Nellie but a wonderful and kind horse to ride.  I feel so fortunate to know him.

I will start the watercolors but then go back to add some more ink where I need to afterwards.  This will definitely be a multi-session piece.