Photo reference for colored pencil painting, Buckles & Belts in CP
Original Colored Pencil Painting
11 x 14 Rising Stonehenge Paper, 90lb, Pearl Grey

With so many other projects higher on the list of priorities this week, it was Wednesday before I could schedule work on this painting. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t give it attention while it was idle last week or this week. Among the things I considered were possible methods for finishing the bridle.

I also considered cropping the composition to focus more clearly on the focal point, the eye.

When I started to work on Wednesday, the first thing I did was place a couple of working mats over the painting to see what scaled down versions looked like. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t very impressed.

However, there was an option that did have appeal. A square crop.

Square compositions aren’t something I do very often because it’s often awkward to find a way to make use of them with horses. To date, there are only three square paintings in my collection. The tile for the Mural Mosaic, La Cadeau Du Cheval, A New Day, and Working Class.

Part of the difficulty with square compositions is that they’re pretty static. A square painting automatically generates a sense of stillness and quiet. Most paintings do not benefit from such an impression.

But what about a painting of a dozing horse?

The moment the thought crossed my mind, it was appealing. I went to the computer and cropped the image to a square composition. Here’s the result.

Original colored pencil painting, Buckles & Belts in CP

Hmmm. Interesting. Very interesting.

The first thought that popped into my mind was eliminating the section of bridle on the right side so the painting was all about the horse. That really is a no-going-back change of direction, though, so I cropped the image one more time and ended up with the image below.

Original colored pencil painting, Buckles & Belts in CP

There is, as you can see, still a bit of bridle to deal with, but it seems to be a moot point, as I don’t care for this composition as much as I like the previous one.

It also reminds me that I impressed stitching in the bridle in the early phases of work. Depending on how deeply the stitching was impressed, it could be difficult to conceal.

In the end, I decided to work on the bridle before physically cutting the painting. That will allow me to determine where there are impressed stitches and how deep they are. So… on to the colored pencils!

Original colored pencil painting, Buckles & Belts in CP
Colors Used: (Prismacolor) Dark Brown, Dark Umber, Indigo Blue, Black, Sienna Brown, Yellow Ochre, Sand, White, Sky Blue Light, Slate Gray, French Grey 20%, Colorless Blender

I marked off a square composition based on the left and top edges, then got to work.

Beginning with the headstall, I used the colors listed above to paint the bridle. Each section was finished before I moved to the next and I finished almost all of the bridle. The only part that wasn’t worked on was the throatlatch and I’m not sure that will be part of the painting.

Original colored pencil painting, Buckles & Belts in CP
I’m not sure all the straps are finished, either. I’ll have to review them tomorrow to know for sure.

I also tweaked the parts of the horse adjacent to the straps I worked on, adjusting edges, adding darker or lighter values as needed, or correcting poorly drawn or poorly drawn areas.

Colors Used: (Prismacolor) Dark Umber, Sienna Brown, Yellow Ochre, Sand, Black, Slate Gray, Sky Blue Light, White

I started work with the parts of the bridle I painted yesterday. There was nothing to change and not much additional work to do on those parts. I burnished the loose end with Sand and added a few accents with White, Sky Blue Light, and Dark Umber, mostly to emphasize or create stitching. I also added additional detail to the buckle with the same colors.

The next area to work on was around the eye, especially the shadow around the eye. The eye and that shadow are the focal areas of the composition no matter what crop I use, so getting them finished would go a long way toward finishing the painting.

I began differentiating between reflected light and shadow within the shadow, using Dark Umber to bring out the shadows and Slate Gray to create faint reflected light. Where the reflected light was a little stronger, such as right in front of the eye, I used Sky Blue Light and heavy pressure with short, curving strokes to create the look of hair. The middle tone areas of the shadow were glazed with Sienna Brown and Yellow Ochre.

I then applied Dark Umber and Black in successive layers into the shadow on the forehead and down the bridge of the nose. Dark Umber was stroked into the mid tone area between the front of the head and the shadow around the eye in a pattern that duplicated the look of hair. I did the same thing further down the face, but worked around the lighter value areas. I wanted to create the contours of the face without drawing too much attention to them, so the further I moved away from the eye, the lighter pressure I used.

When I finished with Dark Umber, I glazed Sienna Brown over most of the lower head and Yellow Ochre over the parts that were more golden in color.

I also worked on the forelock, still trying to reduce the look of a peaked skull but altering the shape of the highlight curving across the forelock, then adding black to separate and define hair masses a little better.

Original colored pencil painting, Buckles & Belts in CP

When I finished for the day, the painting looked finished except for some fine tuning and final touches. I also wanted a chance to photograph it and look at the digital image and at a cropped image to see if it really is completed or not, but there were thundershowers and thunderstorms most of the day, so I wasn’t able to photograph the painting. I’ll at least take another look at it tomorrow and see what else needs to be done.

Colors Used: (Prismacolor) Dark Brown, White. Verithin White

The goal today was to polish the face ahead of the head stall and to finish the painting as much as possible.

There wasn’t much to do. I glazed Dark Brown over parts of the face to add a little more value variety. I did the same under the eye and in the orbital groove. I even glazed Dark Brown lightly over the top of the throat latch and in the poll.

Then I used Verithin White to draw in a few more eye lashes and Prismacolor White to add highlights to the hardware and it didn’t look like there was much else to be done.

Original colored pencil painting, Buckles & Belts in CP

At that point, I sprayed the painting with workable fixative and left it outside to air. I’ll review it again tomorrow or Monday to see what else, if anything, needs to be done.