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.

Urco, Felix’s friend

Urco pencil

Urco pencil

Next up is Urco, a Spanish breed horse, specifically a Lusitano.  Notice how much finer and sculpted his head seems compared with Felix’s warmblood blockiness. He is a much more delicately made horse, bred for bullfighting, where the ability to be light on his feet and move very quickly side to side is a decided advantage.  Felix’s ancestors had to be able pull heavy loads or carry knights with their burden of armor.  Different physiques for different purposes.  There is also about a hand difference in their heights, too.  It’s a much longer way down getting off of Felix than Urco, but surprisingly, they actually can use the same saddle.  anyway, it is a privilege to ride them both.

 

Preliminary pen work

Preliminary pen work

The inking on Urco will not be too detailed at this point.  I may go back after the color is in and add a bit more line work, but this is it for now.  Less is often more at this stage.

 

Felix, finished

Felix, finished

Felix, finished

After finishing the home portrait commission, I got back to Felix and completed the final watercoloring.  He now looks more to me like the horse I know.  He is a deep black, which made shadowing difficult, but I managed to keep some highlights and not get him too dark.  I think he has somewhat of a winsome look here and am pleased with his expression.

Next up will be his dark bay stablemate Urco.  I am doing both of my friend’s horses as a surprise birthday gift.  Last month she earned her Bronze medal from the United States Dressage Federation with scores showing on Urco. Now she is going for her Silver Medal with Felix and is half way there.  I’d like to mat and frame them so she can eventually hang the portraits with her two (hopefully) medals together.  It’s a small thank-you for the privilege of riding two exceptional horses.  It’s not very often a rider like me can have the opportunity to ride a horse who has competed at the upper levels of dressage.

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.

Don Giovanni – or Felix to his friends

Felix

Felix

This is the first of 2 horse portraits.  A few weeks ago I took some pictures at a Maryal Barnett dressage clinic for my friend and I decided to try horse portraits as a gift for her. She has given me the great privilege of letting me ride her 2 wonderful  horses in a lesson every week and this is one of them.  Meet Felix, a 19 year old, 17 hand black Westphalian gelding.  He has competed in the upper levels of FEI dressage competitions, but he is very tolerant of me bouncing around way up there.  I never thought I could ever sit an extended trot, but he makes it easy.  We really start groovin’ it though at the passage and piaffe work.  He gets wonderfully enthusiastic and seems to enjoy it as much as I do.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

He is my nemesis black for a pet portrait, but we’ll see how it turns out.  If they are nice, I will frame them for my friend as a surprise.

More pet portraits

Brandy

Brandy

After finishing the Nashville corner, I decided to make a few more pet portraits. I had a head shot of my sister’s collie and a nice picture of my sweet Lady in mind and over the course of two days I did them both.  Brandy, the collie, was a dark mahogany sable that belonged to my sister’s family.  It was hard to decide how much of her thick coat to show.  Too little would not give her enough definition, but to much ink would change her into a tricolor.  I probably should have used a bit more of a reddish brown, but I like it.  Her fur seemed to be black tipped which allowed use of the grey.  I think I need to work on the whiskers a bit for the future.  They are really hard to do realistically, especially with the nib pen which likes to skip on long strokes.

My sweet Lady

My sweet Lady

After the inquiry for a horse portrait in my etsy shop, I figured I better try one.  I had this picture of my sweet Lady in her later years.  She was mid to late twenties when I took this photo and starting to look her age.  It was late summer and some of the hair on her face was gone due to the fly ointment I used under her eyes.  I had some dilemma with her too on the amount of mane hair to include.  I didn’t want her to look as though she had a black mane as she was a glorious chestnut with the world’s most beautiful mane and tail.  I am not totally happy with her eye, but my daughter thought it was a very good likeness and that she would have known it was her even without the reference photo.  For my posts on Lady’s life and death, go to the following links.

https://ruthsartwork.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/my-sweet-lady/

https://ruthsartwork.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/filling-the-memory-basket/