The Painting Process

The first step of the portrait is to layout the major features of the head and position the drawing on the canvas.  This is where the general likeness is determined.  (2) At the next stage, a colored wash is applied to cover the white canvas and give an under painting for the color of the horse and background.  At this stage the painting is only about 10% complete.

(3) A general block-in is then completed to indicate major areas of light and shadow.  An emphasis is given to establishing proper values at this point (20% complete).

(4)  More attention is given to the background to bring the head forward.  The individual features of the head are modeled.  The horse’s anatomy must be considered early in the painting process to maintain a likeness (40% complete).

(5)  Attention is now given to the edges (lost and found, hard and soft).  This is what distinguishes a good painting from a simple copy of a photograph.  A viewer will naturally focus on areas of strongest contrast between shapes and sharp edges.  The painting is fashioned so as to bring the viewer’s eye back to the primary focus of the painting (in most cases, it is the horse’s eye).  This stage is the most time consuming (80% complete).

(6)  The final painting is now complete.  A typical 11 x 14 painting takes about 15 to 20 hours to complete.  The painting is allowed to air dry prior to applying protective varnish.

Contact Danny C. Holder