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?

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.

Inked Felix

Felix

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.

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.