Part one Here
Long-time blogging acquaintance Katherine commissioned me to paint Rodney in early February. Unfortunately for her, she made the mistake of saying “No hurry.” Haha. Fatal. Thanks to that remark, it took me a while to start, but start I finally did, and I gleefully winged off a photo to prove that Something had indeed been done.
Her immediate response (besides “Yay!”) was “What’s the cotton bud for?” Smudging, I replied. Pastels require a lot of smudging. I use a rag (the sky), fingers (biggish areas of colour), cotton buds (smaller areas of colour), paintbrushes (where I want to get a hairy effect or a shiny highlight effect), and pointy sticks like the one below the cotton bud (for fine detail).
This exchange quickly morphed into a “You should do a series of posts which explains your process and what you use.”
Ehhh no, what if I totally screw up it and my series turns into “How I create firelighters using pastels” ???
But I tried, I really did. I videoed my studio, my dogs sleeping beside me and me doing some smudging. The only problem was, the smudging footage turned out to be some really detailed coverage of my worktable. It’s hard to hold a camera and smudge pastels at the same time. So I decided that filming was not a good idea, and I returned to my usual habit of taking ‘progress’ photos.
And then progress ground to a halt. There was a trip to Chamonix to see Youngest Daughter. And work at the stables. And lots of work at Villa Amande. And a Paddy’s Day party to organise. But finally I got back to Rodney. And I rapidly got to the point where all the Horse Bits were more or less coloured in and all that was left was (cue dramatic music)…
The chromatically correct replica of Dr Who’s scarf. The one created by another blogger (a knitting blogger) a couple of years ago. Read about its origins here
This scarf is quasi-famous. I had to get it right.
I like to knit knitted things. Let me tell you right now, I don’t like to paint knitted things. Knitting this scarf would probably have been easier than painting it.
At one point, I was quite certain that I would completely ruin all my work and would have to tell Katherine I was starting again and leaving out the ****ing scarf. But I persevered. Sketched in the folds and the way it draped. Got the colours as close as I could. Worked on the shadows under Rodney’s neck. And then painstakingly shaded in each knitted row. Technical aside – for all of those fine lines, I used pastel pencils, not pastel sticks.
And the end result.
Note how the sky changed from the very first pass – I felt he needed a little more definition behind him. And I also liked the way that the sky appears superficially blue but is in fact a little stormy – much like Rodney himself!
I am really pleased with how he turned out. I just hope that Katherine is too. And that Rodney arrives safely in Alabama… we’ll find out in Part 3 I guess.
When I posted my New Beginning post a couple of months ago, a long-time blog reader responded immediately.
“I’ll be your first commission, don’t even have to wait for the advertising post. Seriously, I believe in supporting artists. That is, I assume you aren’t painting with gold leaf?
Pick an idea from the blog & go to town. I’d be careful with cats. Some of them have passed on & I’d be too upset to appreciate a picture. Horses who have passed on I’d be okay with. Go figure. It can be a head shot, full body, showing, not showing, home team, ASB, pasture, jumping, saddle seat. Whatever amuses your artistic soul.”
Katherine (of Rodney’s Saga fame) and I have been mutual blog followers for at least six years now. I tune in and out of her blog and she tunes in and out of mine. (In fairness, I also tune in and out of mine… as do all of you regular followers!) We’ve sent each other random gifts for a Pay it Forward sort of thing and she was one of the winners in a draw I had ages ago. We are kindred spirits in an Age, Horsiness and being Female sort of way. Would I have said we’re friends? No.
Within minutes of me publishing that blog post, she was there, boosting me in the most positive way anybody possibly could.
We messaged back and forth. She jumped right in and opted for the ‘large’ size picture. I went off and rootled through her blog. Looked at various horses. Various poses. And I kept being drawn back to this guy.
It’s not a flattering angle. The horse’s head and neck appear enormous; his body and what you can see of his legs seem tiny. The light is strong and casts very dark shadows. The head collar does nothing for his pretty face.
But it’s Rodney. Wearing his Dr Whooves scarf (apologies for mis-spelling in the previous post).
Rodney is the reason for Katherine’s blog. He’s the OTTB that she bought to bring on and event when Previous Horse was no longer up to the job. The one about whose greatness she would write for years. The one whose ribbons and trophies she would display proudly in her house; the one about whom she would reminisce in her old age.
Well, that was the plan.
Rodney turned out to be… umm… “complicated”, or even “Very Complicated.” His Saga has been going on for nine years now and he has yet to set foot on a dressage arena, let alone a cross country course. The plan changed to fit the horse, and Rodney became a long-term learning project. Still complicated today, at the age of nineteen.
But Rodney’s Saga is also one of those horsey blogs that’s survived. Let’s face it, most of us crumble away after a few years (apparently five. Can’t remember where I read that) but Katherine keeps writing. Every Darn Day. Which is damned impressive.
So it seemed right that Rodney, the reason for the Saga, the reason that Katherine and I got to know each other, should be my model.
I messaged Katherine; she sent me a high-res photo.
And I got to work.
PS I was also very tempted by this photo.
I love the action, the concentration, the intent. But this horse never had a Saga written about it.
It had to be Rodney.
Well this is bloody difficult… Put a value on my own work? My own time?
It should be easy, right? I earn €10/hour approx for my horse job, so I’m aiming to give myself the same rate for my artwork. Ten euros per hour isn’t much… But then I can spend hours and hours on some intricate detail (Like a scarf. More anon) and I daren’t even think about totting up how many hours I spent on a piece. Better to chalk it (lol. pun intended) down to a development process and a new technique learned.
With the aim of earning €10/hour, I’ve come up with the following rates for commissioned horse and dog portraits.
In general, portraits are head and neck only. Full body portraits are open to discussion and are absolutely not out of the question. Even horses with riders aboard are possible…
…just don’t expect me to do human faces!
Larger sizes and pictures with multiple subjects are also possible, but will be priced on a piece by piece basis. You can always email me here or message me on Facebook to discuss your particular ideas.
Here are a few more samples. Enjoy perusing…
I hope you can see the difference in the amount of detail in each piece as the size goes up!
Here are some existing art works, some of which are for sale.
I also love playing around with white on black. These are A4 size.
Finally, some exciting news – I’m taking part in two exhibitions this summer so I’ve got to produce enough quality pieces for those. So – back to the drawing board 😀
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