A friend asked me to do a portrait of her lovely ole Teddy, a Belgian that lives and works as a therapy riding horse at Arion Therapeutic Farm
. My friend also works there as a therapeutic riding instructor. My boys have been riding at Arion for one year now, and they love it. I love going there because I love horses and love just BEING at the farm because, well, its just therapeutic!! And there are tons of opportunities to sketch and photo horses and people working with horses.
Isn't Teddy gorgeous?? I think he's a favourite of most people and kids that ride on the farm. He's pretty big and very gentle and from what I see, he loves his job and the treats he gets!
I took tons of photos of Teddy and now I have about 3-4 good ones, out of dozens that I've taken. I chose this photo because it is a portrait, obviously, but he seems to be watching someone...less static than some of the other photos.
I've included a few pictures of my process and some challenges I'm having. My last horse painting was of The Team,
the two Belgians, and I did that months ago!!
I use my computer and Photoshop elements for a lot of my work. Here I took the image of Teddy and changed the contrast to exaggerate value. This helps me block in the big forms and not get caught up in detail too soon in the process. Yes, that is a grid and for a likeness when I draw I sometimes use a grid...it is not cheating for those that think so...I used to...but even Vermeer and other masters used grids or other aids to begin a work....I did do a non grid pencil sketch from a slightly different pose for Teddy, but decided to use the photo above.
The left shows "my burnt sienna with a touch of orange" toned canvas with a light pencil grid and line sketch...to get a likeness it was critical I get the relative proportions right. This is about as far as the grid can help me here, since it will be covered in paint...I did keep some reference lines around the edges to help with placement. On the right photo is the first step in getting the darkest values by blocking in shapes. I'm not thinking "horse" here that much!
On the left I chose some bright colours (similar to the contrast in Photoshop) to block in 3 more values from the next darkest to the lightest. The next stage on the right is about playing with what colours will get me close to a likeness and defining features.
The next stage is again more refinement. I have to be careful here to not get carried away with tiny brush strokes and "fiddling"...this is a small painting at 8X10. I've created a more defined background and defined the hair and ears and nose a little more. The last stage shown is yet more refinement, but I am still not satisfied and do not call this a finished piece. I started to fiddle more and I don't like the background at all...for now, I will leave this piece and let Teddy "incubate" for a few days!
Thomas (my husband) and I were married in St. John's, Nfld! We had just finished our bicycle ride across Canada, starting on June 1, 1991 in Victoria, BC. We cycled coast to coast to coast, that is, from the Pacific Ocean, to the Arctic Ocean, to the Atlantic Ocean. Here's our "official" wedding photo, taken in downtown St. John's!
Don't we look fresh faced and young! We looked lovely in our gortex and wool cycling pants with patches!
We cycled north from Victoria, ferried to Prince Rupert, cycled north to the Yukon and into Inuvik, NWT (and we flew into Tuktoyuktuk and the Beaufort Sea)...then flew to Calgary, AB (we'd already cycled all seven high passes in BC the summer before...didn't need to repeat that!), fought head winds across the prairies, had tail winds in Ontario and Quebec, and lots of rain in the Maritimes! Newfoundland was the last leg and we decided if we could get through all that, we would get married and we did!
We then headed to southern Africa and Europe and we cycled there. I have tons of slides that need to be scanned...lots of art reference material that needs to be dusted off and brought into the modern age. Another project for the winter. Here's a photo I found of elephants in Chobe National Park in Botswana...memories....
Elephants on parade in Chobe National Park, Botswana
PS...If any of you have recommendations for a good high quality scanner for 35 mm slides, let me know...I'm on the hunt! Our old scanner is starting to fizzle....
Okay, so tomorrow was 3 days ago....but I've had a couple days to test drive the new setup and though it may be a small change in appearance to you, its made a huge difference for me and how I have organised my space. I'm loving it!
And a couple of you asked "How you could possibly not use your living room?" Well, we do have a big rec room downstairs for the boys to do their thing (lego, computer, wii, TV which we have for DVD's and the wii - we've don't subscribe to cable and haven't for over 20 years now!) I considered setting up my studio in the rec room, but the light in this room is so much better...and the view...and we didn't spend any time here....so I needed a space and it was a natural choice! If we have visitors, we are usually doing stuff outside the house, and any sitting and visiting is done around the dining room table!
The desks have been swapped and reorganized...my art table is just for my easel, paints, brushes and other painting/drawing tools. The desk is for my computer, cutting mat, books and references. The lighting set up is much much better and my storage space more organised and accessible.
And here's the other side of the room, where the little corner desk just houses CD's, DVD's, and daily mail and papers. The sitting arrangement is cosier. I can sit back in a chair to read or look at my work or visitors (or cats) can now sit with me while I'm working.
Again, Austin was absolutely no help....but he seemed satisfied with the arrangement for his bed...he can't let the cats outdo him for prime resting space....
I started working on some new paintings the last couple days and I realized that my workspace was becoming too "inefficient". My studio is our living room upstairs....we weren't using it, and this house doesn't have a spare room, and its a lovely bright space...perfect for an artist's studio!
My computer is a great tool for my work but it was sitting across the room, away from my painting area and I like using it for my reference photos, online courses I'm doing etc... I have been printing everything out and thought...why not move it closer to my painting area....this required moving the computer and re-arranging my desks....no small task...
My computer desk area, separated across the room from my painting and desk space....
My front window, great view, great inpsiration all year long! But I need a better space to store my supplies....
My desk on the left...clutter keeper...most has been removed...this desk was not being used very well...lots of stuff just stacked. My painting table on the right, where my easel, brushes and palette sits.
Austin was absolutely no help at all...one look at my piles of supplies, books, paint, and papers and he flopped on the floor, looked at me as if to say, "Don't make too much noise"! and promptly started snoring...Loudly!
Tomorrow...the result of the makover...I've actually had one day to "test drive" the setup and I think it'll work better! Stay tuned! I'm still trying to convince Austin to give me a hand....so far no response....
Today I spent time in the garden, starting the fall "cleanup". We've had some rainy, rainy days, warm and damp. But it is getting cooler. The inevitable is on its way. I thought I would post some summer images of inspiration. During the coming colder fall and winter months, I'll create images in paint! Enjoy!
Summer Sunflower and Rose
Left: Somewhere on the Kettle Valley Railway Right: Bridge on the High Rim Trail
Top: Hazy View from Arion Farms in Southest Kelowna; Bottom: Indian Paintbrush at Myra Canyon Park, BC