With such an interesting title how could you not want to check this out?! I am so creative in my writing skills sometimes it kills me.

It seems many people assume I only paint dogs or people…and only the breeds of dogs I have already painted. I’m not sure how they come to that conclusion. In truth I can copy any photograph of anything you can think of. Either way I have decided to mix a few other animals into my portfolio, starting with some of my favorites…horses! Lynne Ezzell of http://www.uwharrie.net/uwharrie_studios/index.htm has given me permission to use some of the amazing photos she has taken (as have a few other people that I will work on later YAY).

This piece an 8×10 on 70lb art paper in prismacolor colored pencils.

I have started with a graphite pencil sketch with quite a bit of detail. It is far far easier to erase graphite (especially if you go with a very hard lead like a 4H so that your lines are light) than to realize you have made a mistake when coloring in with the colored pencils.  I do not use soft leaded pencils for my initial outline as they will show through the colored pencil later on.  In this drawing my lines look especially dark. They aren’t. I had to up the contrast in photoshop so that you could see them as they didn’t show up almost at all in the scan.



There is no way around going through a LOT of ugly stages when working on a portrait. This is one of them. I have started layering what will be the first of 5 or so layers on my background. I have used cool grey 20% all over and then went over it on parts with all of my other shades. At this stage it looks like crayon work.



I now use a stiff bristled paint brush and mona Lisa odorless paint thinner to blend out the background. Once this dries I can start the layering process all over again with the same colors I have already used. If I have put the colored pencil on very heavy, a wax build up will start accumulating. This makes adding layers a bit difficult, so I take an old tshirt and rub out that wax build up allowing more color to adhere to the paper.
I will keep reworking the background in this way until it has the color and softness I am looking for.

I have added 5 layers to get the background to this stage. By layers I mean each time I blend it all out with the paint thinner. Each “layer” actually has several layers of pencil overlapping each other before I use the paint thinner. Now I can start on the actual horse.


Next I started blocking in the bridle followed by the other areas of the horse itself. I block the colors in very loosely not worrying too much about color or total detail.


Now I can move onto the horse. I start working on the face. These layers are SO very frustrating for me because they look terrible. I know that I have to get through these seriously ugly stages in order to get to the stages where things start to look good, yet EVERY portrait I do I want to trash when I hit this point. You can see on the area of his face closest to his neck that I block in the the color just like I do with the background, first with the crayon look, then I continue blending with the paint thinner and adding layer on top of layer in the same way.




I finish blocking in the color on the entire horse. I see so many artists stop at this point and call the piece done, when in fact it is only about half way there. Everything now is very flat and lacking contrast.

Now that the horse is blocked in I was able to see that my background was too dark. To create better contrast I layered white over most of the area around the horses face. I then go back to the rest of the horse and start working on getting more accurate color, contrast and detail.


I spend hours working and reworking details. I can’t even begin to count how many layers of color over color and blending I end up doing, but this is the finished product 🙂