Above (left) is a photograph of the pony cob family in a field near me. I pass them often in my walks and have a collection of photos. In this post I describe how I developed the photograph into a more finished art work (right)
The challenge was not to copy the photo exactly but to really grasp the main shapes of the bodies and the markings. Here are a few of the first drawings I made.
I then explored the shapes with different media to see if I wanted to make this into an abstract painting
It was still difficult to get this simple enough, and looking at the drawing (above) with the yellow ground I decided I wanted to focus more on the softness of the horse’s hair and nose, at least for the one in the foreground (below). I also wanted to bring some colour into it. I definitely like this combination and the composition, but I still felt that I needed to do more with the horses in the background as I had not really understood either them or the nose. So I did more and also introduced a feeling of space by varying the tone of the ground.
This does work because I have grasped the stance of the two background horses and solved the problem of the overall composition better. Most importantly, I am satisfied that I have understood the subject sufficiently to work from memory if I wish to. Also, with time, I might simply work on one of the abstract pieces in itself, having left the original associations behind. Also I might return to the figurative work after putting it aside for a while.
Now a week or so later I am going to do another of these paintings and hopefully do a series of three. I started the second one, very similar to the first but with the emphasis on the young horses rather than the mare, and it feels much more straightforward because of my previous work. Fingers crossed. Quite nice to be back on figurative ground again after the abstract ones. I move between the two approaches, different kinds of energy. Then I moved to a more abstract approach based on one of the drawings. Here are the second, third, fourth and then another drawing.