Last week, I introduced a drawing project from some years ago. If you read the article, you’ll recall that it took several years just to get from the initial drawing to having any kind of background.

You’ll also remember that my attempt to turn a vignette style drawing into one with a background was less that successful.

If you missed that article or the article in which I described how I finally fixed the background, you can read the introduction here and the DIY repair article on EmptyEasel here.

This week, I pick up the tale where we left off at EmptyEasel.

Sixteen months later….

I decided once again to give a try at finishing this painting…one way or the other.


The drawing with the finished background.

This is what the drawing looked like after the background work I described in the EmptyEasel article. Overall, I was very happy with it looks. It was good enough to prompt me to finish the horse.

About the same time, I read about an equine artist named Shawn Faust who took a workshop with Daniel Greene and was told by Mr. Greene that the eye is the essence of a portrait. Shawn Faust’s work is gorgeous and I learned a lot just by looking at it, so I’m going to start work on Aeropostale by starting with the eye.

Daniel Greene works with human subjects, but his comment applies just as well to animal subjects and especially to horses. So I began work by focusing on the eye.


A detail of the eye.

Beginning with Orange, I built color in the iris, then into the pupil and the highlight. The actual eye was the focus of my attention until it was nearly complete, then I worked the upper and lower lids and the surrounding areas.

The complete list of colors used is Prismacolor Orange, Sienna Brown, Dark Brown, Burnt Ochre, Black, Indigo Blue, True Blue, and Non Photo Blue. Pressure was light to medium, depending on how saturated I wanted the color layer and how much color was already in place.

I kept my pencils sharp and used small strokes to work color into the texture of the mat board, which isn’t quite as smooth a surface as I usually prefer.

In the pupil and darker areas, I used circular strokes and also did a little cross-hatching. All strokes were kept small and tight to create a solid color field.

In the iris, I still used sharp pencils and some cross-hatching, but most of the strokes were straight, radiating from the pupil like the spokes in a bicycle wheel to mimic the color and patterns found in this part of most eyes.

Eyes are an evolving process in most portraits. It looks finished now, but as the rest of the horse is completed, adjustments will be made to the eye, as well as to other areas. I am not yet decided about whether or not to use a solvent of any kind on the eye, but there is no hurry to make that decision. It’s a lot easier to make that kind of adjustment later in the process than it is to try to fix something. Patience really is a virtue!

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