*Tutorial - Painting the Welsh Cob Stallion*

Reference stock photo supplied by Chroa2427851 (thank you Chroma)

Winsor and Newton & Basic Acrylic paint

Burnt Sienna (sorry not shown in the photo), Ultramarine, Permanent Magenta, Permanent Green Middle, Hooker’s Green, Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, Pale Umber, Red Ochre, Quinacridone Magenta and Titanium White.

Assorted flat no.10, Filbert no.8, Round Hog Hair no.4, Rigger no.1, 2” Wash brush and a 1” flat rough brush.

16” x 20” stretched canvas

White plastic big well palette and an (very essential) Chocolate American tin with a pre cut canvas sheet on top of thin wet sponge.

Here is a the step by step process of how I painted my latest painting of this beautiful horse in 10 hours over two days.

Step 1
I previous prepared my canvas using white Gesso (giving it two or three coats) and then using simple plastic palette, squeezed out peanut size drops of the colours mentioned and started mixing on the palette, basically looking for a nice summer-ish green as my base colour. This is basically trial and error at first, sometimes the green was to light and others it was to dark, but I with a bit of patience and perseverance I got the green I wanted, see that lovely first big well of green in the top row? Now that I had the colour, I added a little water to make it more of a watercolour consistency. Then using my 2” wash brush I gave the canvas it’s first wash (and boy was he pleased!) across just over mid-way up the canvas.

I then used slightly darker shades of the green near the base of the canvas, I was trying to give the grass a preliminary depth of field, darker at the bottom and thinner watery near
the horizon.

Step 2
In the well on the right and beside the finger hole of the palette, I mixed some white, yellow ochre and pinched some of the greens from the other wells and started mixing some variants english mustard shades of colour. Now using my 1” rough brush (see photo above of white palette)

I started dabbing a bit of a worn path into the bottom right hand side of the green field, it’s not a definite track or path, just where the sun dries it out a little, well you the effect you get when you cannot water your lawn because the local council authorities give you wrong for wasting water? yes that kind of effect. I also begin a few tufts of grass near the bottom of the canvas, where I want the foreground to stand out more as a good base for the horses to stand on.

Step 3
Still using my tatty old 1” flat rough brush, I carry on laying small tufts here and there, sometimes dragging it a few centimeters to give it slightly darker streaks randomly around the bottom half of the green carpet, it is important I do not go any higher than about half way up the green carpet or I will loose the depth of field I’m trying to achieve. I also add more lighter tones to the worn out section of the grass, making sure it fades out into streaks into the green on both sides. I want this to look as random as I can make it.

Step 4
Still using my tatty old 1” flat brush I start introducing more darker greens (mostly hooker green) into the corners of the carpet, slightly encroaching onto the worn area. Also I start introducing slight dabs of white onto the worn section, I’m trying to just add the occasional hi-light of grass. I also add some more English mustard colour into the darker greens I’ve just laid down, sort of overlapping one colour onto another, so it all kinds of blends in.

“Step 5*
Do you leave for a cup of tea? Well while you were out I managed to wash in the summer blue sky, and got around the horizon line by adding a few terrace of trees and shrubs, nothing definite just enough to give some stability to the horizon, I am also very conscious not to go to dark on the horizon, I need it pushed back no darker than the grass at the horizon, if I go darker I begin to lose the effect of my distance. I also star playing around with the rudiments of white fences and posts coming in just below the main horizon from each side. I don’t want to spend too long doing this feature, I can work on it nearer the end.

Step 6
This is the brave part of the painting, I call it the brave part, because most folks start to get very weary of sketching an outline of a horse onto an already painted background. But using a 2B lead pencil, I sketch out a very basic block shape of the horse, and I do mean basic, there really isn’t much need for lots of detail at this stage as I’m only going to obliterate it all with the first undercoat. I use the filbert to start laying down a wonderfully garish Burnt Sienna as my base coat, you can see it is going on fairly basically and I try not go too much over the edges of my pencil lines, I’m not too worried about the opacity of the colour as this is just the first base coat.

Step 7
I then mix white and red ochre into a lush pink for the tail and ankle socks (is that even the correct term? – please excuse me, as I cannot tell you the starboard bow from the stern of a horse). These are all base coats so I’m not really to worried at the moment (I hope!). I now start looking for a good second base to this horses coat, this is almost a very dark brown nearly black mix of colour, it is really strong, but I feel it is going to help me get that wonderful sheen I’m after in the coat. At the ankles where the pink socks start, I use a magenta/blue violet mix to go between the two tones. This bit of the painting looks really horrid, but trust me, it does improve (crossing my fingers behind my back), honest!

Step 8
Here I am starting to work on the dark shadows of the ankle socks of the front legs, yes I know I haven’t finished off blacking up the rest of the horse, but I’m just a wee bit impatient to see something improving, no I’m no worried about the blackness (not yet!). I start adding a lighter violet mix using the rigger brush to start defining some structure to the longer hairs down here. I also add a few slight hi-lights to the horses knee joints (wish I knew what these where called!).

Step 9
Now I’m really starting to get adventurous and start adding a few Pale Umber strokes to the top of the leg and the horses chest area with the rigger brush. This bit is important, so please don’t leave OK? While the hi-lights is still wet I get my dry small round hog hair and start scrubbing the hi-light to blend it into the coat till it’s just a blur, see?

Step 10
I carry on using this hi-light in Pale Umber and brushing it out using the dry small hog hair brush, I have a wet rag which I keep wiping the hairs of the brush to stop it drying out, I need the brush fairly supple, it helps me get the blurred affect I want. On to of the blurred affect I can start tracing some hi-lights in Pale Umber and Titanium white with a hint of Pale Umber using the rigger, but these I don’t brush out, they are the basis of the sheen I’m trying to achieve. I also start giving the neck a very watery wash in Pale Umber. I work up into the neck area and onto the ridge of the horses neck (I’m really going to have to start looking up what the proper names are for these horsey bits – can you tell I know very little about these majestic beauties?) from the top of the neck I start tracing out a few joined up letters U’s. You may have noticed I’m a bit erratic in my procedure and I have started putting a light Pale Umber tone onto the horses belly, for when I start on this bit properly, this is my failed attempt at trying to do what most of you woman do with so much ease, i.e., multitasking!

Step 11
As I use the rigger brush I continue working up the horses strong neck defining the creases in it by leaving the dark lines in the undercoat showing, it really does start to look like a shiny neck with creases catching the sunlight. Just below the cheeks (I suppose horse do have cheeks right?) I paint in a few tiger scratches onto the neck blurring them in first then adding a stronger hi-light to top ends of the scratches. I also start adding a few fine strokes on the horses shoulders always tying the make the hi-light definitions look more natural to the horses coat.

Step 12
I have carried on up the neck to the top where the horses main is starting to be defined with small round hi-lights of Pale Umber and a light violet mix. I also start on the horse’s mouth, nose and that leather harness thingy (well, you know what I mean), using the rigger brush, I start laying in the white of the horses forehead flash (this is probably why he is called flash I bet). I also had to add a bit of sky as I wanted to see the straps of the harness thingy clearly, I laid down a dark brown almost black shape of the harness with a yellow ochre buckle and a violet mix for the strap across his nose. Still using the rigger. I’ve started to paint in a few stray hairs on the horses mane.

Step 13
I have cut the reference photo (no not because I’m starting to get angry at my progress!) and tape it next to the head, so I have a great original reference next to where I’m working, if you try this, it helps if the photo section is similar in size to the area your working on, it also stop you being distracted at looking at other areas you really don’t need to be looking at, I’m working on the head now so looking at the horses head reference next to where I’m painting really helps me focus. It is easier now to compare what I’m painting with what I’m seeing, this is not going to be an impressionistic painting, I want it to be almost photo-realistic, If you’ve seen any of my pencil work, you’ll know what I’m on about. My underlying philosophy is that I paint what I see.

Step 14
See how harder it is without the reference photo next to where I’m painting?

Step 15
Here I have finished off the head and harness and started defining the hair more on the forehead on down the neck, I’ve also added pink top the horses lips and the outer edges of his nostrils. I have now started working on the horse mid section (belly/tummy/torso??) by carrying on the sheen along the top of the back. I have also brushed in some red/yelloe ochre into the edges of his mid section. I have also mixed a deep liver red and started brushing this into the muscles at the top of the legs. This really does show of the shine against the deep liver red of his coat.

Step 16
I finish the mid section by scrubbing some yellow ochre into it, as it appears lighter in this section on the reference photo. I now carry on working on the hind legs (see I’m getting better at this equestrian lingo) and rump of the horse, adding a thinner sheen to the follow the route of the rear legs. I also start scrubbing into the thighs a deeper liver red mix, I’m trying to define those marvelous leg muscles. I’ve also darkened in the rear leg furthest away down to the top of his socks. I also use the fine tip of the rigger to apply a few scratches to the horses belly and a few hi-lighted hairs, trying to keep them going in the way the coat is brushed.

Step 17
I’m started to get really pleased with how this is starting to turn out, now it’s time for the rear ankle sock, I start by adding some pink shadows into the body of the socks. I also start giving the tail some body by adding a warm grey/violet mix with a few selective hi-lights in white using the rigger to give the hair in the tail some ripples and shine. The tail starts to fall in front of the horses closest rear leg. I also try and define the hi-lights on the front feet and work on that sliver of white which is all you see of the other front leg ankle sock. I add a dab of yellow ochre and white mix for the horses hooves, to make them a separate entity to the white ankle socks. I start introducing some darker hooker green to show the shadows under the tail and creeping towards the front legs.

Step 18
Here you can see the detail of the horses branding (ouch that’s gotta hurt!) a small white K in a semi-circle. I still keep working on the deep reds and the dark shadows to try and enhance this horses beautiful coat. I\m also trying to give the tail a more silver finish. by mixing in some cooler grey and defining its longer strands. I also start tidying up a few loos strands on the back of the neck. I still find that at this stage, I can always add a few more hi-lights and light blends to help make this coat jump out of you, I’m almost there!

Step 19
Here I have added more white onto the top of the pink ankle socks and finished of the hair on the front leg I started oh so long ago (this is really slow man multitasking!). I have carried on the shadow to the base of the front feet, purely using the rigger by feathering in grass, first dark then going over the edges of the dark with a few selected lighter grasses to make them stand out.

Step 20
I carry on the shadow to the edge of the canvas and add a few hi-light to the green carpet where I think it needs it. I Manage to make the tufts of grass at the very bottom of the canvas stand out even more, this I find helps the depth of field . To finish off I add a few Titanium strokes to the fencing and bring out the fence post shadows a tad more, and voila! One beautiful liver red Welsh Cob painted and finished!

I hope you now have a better understanding into the crazy process I call art, and show you how I come create my paintings. This is only my third horse I’ve painted. I think I may paint a few more before I’m finished with the subject matter, oh yes! definitely.

Thank you for your time, now go and do something creative!


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