Saturday 17 October 2015

17/10: HECTOR - HORSE (work in progress)

OK .... a horse.    Horses were what I started out drawing when I first 'discovered' pastels.     After that I added dogs, cats and finally humans in pastel, coloured pencils and graphite pencils.    I don't portray as many horses these days (tends to be more humans) but I think they remain my favourite subject.

I portrayed my client's other horse, Manny, about 3 years ago and this is her new horse, Hector.  I'm using pastel on Fisher 400 sanded paper to match the style of the first portrait.    I'd forgotten how unforgiving this sanded paper is if, like me, you're in the habit of blending pastel with fingers ....

These were the early stages, blocking in colour using mainly soft pastels to form the base

The weather has been gloomy for several days and I've been using a daylight bulb lamp to enable me to see colours better but all these photos are a bit 'off colour' as taken in poor light.     Fisher 400 is a typical 'sandpaper' colour - light sandy/gold but it looks a bit blue/grey in some of these shots

Here's Hector, outlined and with the first colours being laid

Strengthening the colours - I did debate whether to use coloured pencil for the bridle which would allow me to get finer detail but I thought it might look too 'waxy' next to the pastel so will persevere with pastel pencils and try to keep the points sharp - not easy on this sanded paper which eats pencils (pastel and wax)

Uggghhh you can see I've tried to photograph this using the daylight bulb lamp but its casting strange shadows 

Its beginning to come together a bit more now but at this stage I needed guidance from my client.

This is the reference photo I've been asked to work from - its not bad - taken indoors under artificial light though.    Look at the colour of his muzzle here:

this is one of the supporting ref. photos supplied by Hector's Mum:    this is taken in natural light and just look at his colouring here:

Looks like a different beastie doesn't he?

So we're now going to be working on a compromise, between the two.     This is where I finished up today.    Again, colour/quality of photo is poor but at this stage I'm not going to waste time faffing around trying to 'tweak' it.     I'm hoping to finish this tomorrow (subject to client's approval) and crack on with the RAF portrait.


  1. The muzzle, in particular, looks a different colour in the stable picture. But the photo of Hector being ridden looks very comparable with your picture.

  2. looks really nice, the paper is working great for the subject matter.
    great job on the eye :)

  3. A few weeks ago I vacationed in Tennessee and took so many reference pictures of horses which I want to eventually paint...this is absolutely fantastic, Sue! LOVE, LOVE Hector (my Dad's
    Its so hard to believe you're working with pencils on sanded paper..
    it looks SO smooth! I look forward to your next post!!!

  4. Thanks ladies ... bit scary doing commissions again after a long break. I hadn't intended to do any more this year but now have another 2 in the pipeline and then I need to get cracking on some exhibition entries for December and again early next year.

    Thanks Hilda ... I do kind of like working on sanded paper but I haven't found anything better than my fingers to blend colours so I always end up with sore (bleeding) fingertips after using this paper, especially for larger works.

  5. Sue, Hector looks fantastic! You did a super job from those reference photos - I appreciate how difficult that can be.
    I missed your posts, and wondered if you'd ever be back! I am happy to "see" you again!!
    BEST of luck to you with all that major dental work and surgery!!! Heal well and quickly!
    Kathryn XX


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