I have been struck a number of times by the patient nature of horses – though it doesnt include the ones running in the 2-30 at Kempton, obviously. The way they stand or methodically graze unhurriedly in the paddock or dissuade irritating flies with the twitch of a muscle. I saw these ones, painted above, on a recent morning cycle – probably waiting for breakfast to be delivered. Hopefully Godot wasn’t bringing it, as in that case, even their patience might be tested.
Not much painting over the last few days as we went away to the Peak District near Stockport to meet some of my wife’s friends who were up visiting. We gathered in the grounds of Lyme house – which among other things, was used as a backdrop in a BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.
As the troops gathered I sneaked away to sketch the view of the house from near the main driveway despite it starting to rain in the attempt. Fortunately there was an oak tree to shelter under.
We stayed in an inn on the outskirts of town, high on a hill and I thought that I would get up the next morning and paint for an hour or so, before we set off. When I woke up there was low cloud and drizzle so I stayed indoors and sketched the horses in the farm opposite when they grazed into view.
They didnt stay still for long and it was a good exercise trying to catch them in their poses – something I should do more often. When they disappeared from view I built up the farm which overlooked the valley.
Later we walked up towards Kinder Scout and this was a view of the reservoir I snatched as I waited for the others to catch up. I liked the green sloping field behind the house which jumped out in the sunshine – overworked but a reminder of the day.
This painting recalls summer days when I saw these horses beside the canal. I like drawing and painting horses, just for their shapes – rather like boats and the challenge they give when they are at different angles or huddled together.
I gathered up the images I had of the day and arranged the horses to get a selection of orientations and hopefully provide a pleasing arrangement.
Its good to get back painting with the first one of the year, though I am still moving materials back to the studio and at the same time doing a bit of sorting out and culling as I go – it all takes time.
My last post was a pastel and after I completed it I started developing an abstract with them as I find pastel quick to get ideas down with. The abstract wasnt going too well, so I so, with the pastels, I started to play around with a study of some horses I saw on a walk in the Cotswolds we had last week. I liked the way they stood back to back allowing views from two different angles. The richness of the pastel really brought out the lustre of their coats.
I have been having more than the normal problems with painting recently particularly where I start a painting and abandon it or complete another version and come out with two paintings I am dissatisfied with. This one is a case in point. I had some images of a pack of Patagonian ponies squeezing through rocks and vegetation. I was taken by the forms of the horses as they tussled to progress and I started a pastel painting of it. To make some narrative of the image I obtained some pictures of horses in motion. However the group of equine forms soon transformed into a brown indulgent mass and I abandoned the enterprise. However the extra horses I had found had movement and strength about them and I decided to focus on these and here is the result. I still have a few reservations, but I do like the flow of the forms.
I suppose it was the early morning mistiness and recession past the trees which interested me as much as the horses. This was done with three colours cad. red, cad. yellow and ultramarine and mixing a lot of them on the paper.
With a couple of days good weather I have got out on my bike to do a bit of sketching around Southport. The first one is near Ormskirk on Clieves Hills one the few hills we have around here and probably what many would regard as bumps.
Then down towards Formby where coming out of the woods I glimpsed these horses.
I had a photo of Asian horsemen fighting over the carcass of a goat. The horses in the shot exuded power and dynamism so I took the leading one and entered it for a horserace adding other contestants from photos of races to try to get the feel of thundering horses galloping past at close proximity.
I was browsing through a load of images of my old paintings that I hold digitally and I saw one that caught my eye. It was of a painting long consigned to the bin as there wasn’t much happening and it really needed a subject. Then I thought of another recent post that I hadn’t been overly impressed with and felt I could combine the two and come out with something greater than the sum of the parts. Regulars will recognise the subjects, but the sunrise and the colours do give a more coherent picture. The actual fields depicted are ones which are near a stables so my fiction might not be too far from the truth. Only time will tell.
A couple of watercolours I did recently which I had high hopes for, but they fell a bit flat by the time I had finished. Both were contra-jour. The horses in the evening sun seemed to come out rather flat. The actual horses in the photo were in coats so I took some images of horses from other photos and arranged them in the field but perhaps I had the tones a bit wrong – being wary of overdarkening the horses. I felt the finished painting lacked a bit of punch.
The view from the canal seemed to finish up with a mass of reedbeds and rather little else going on.