Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Not a disappointed horse

Below is a stud horse recently imported from the US. He won a couple of races I believe and has already produced winning progeny. When I took photos of him (he belongs to a friend) I wanted to capture his powerful physique and the hot, bright, Manawatu day during the drought. It was a painting for no-one but me. If it worked I'd hang it above our fireplace because I've long wanted something there that'd exude light. (I tried a mirror once but it didn't work.)

So I indulged myself and bought an enormous canvas (which subsequently wouldn't fit into the car and had to be delivered). Initially the painting was in my usual style. Realist and quite thinly painted. But it was very dissatisfying. Lifeless and boring. I began thinking of it as only an under-painting. Just a sketch. It was problematic trying to work on it in my small studio because I couldn't get well back from it to gauge the effect.

Then we had a mini disaster. A rat's nest in the living area ceiling became apparent when the rats chewed through internal piping and water started to run down the wall behind the fireplace.The result is the wall and ceiling had to be hacked into and currently they still await re-plastering and re-painting. But this presented a perfect opportunity. I could proceed with my horse hanging on the living room wall. But it wasn't going to be with a brush and turps. Smelly business. If I used a palette knife I could just wipe it clean with a rag.

This is a big departure for me but I have been increasingly drawn to richer, more strongly contrasting colour and lots of it. So I set up the palette and stool and began. I'm a careful and tidy worker and there were no mishaps until ... Daisy walked through through palette and spread red and blue paw marks everywhere. What fun trying to catch her and clean her muzzle and paws up. Not.

It's still a work in progress but, I don't know, I think it's just the colours as much as anything else, it makes me happy. It hangs there and every so often I pick up the knife and move a bit of paint around. There are no fences yet and the tail and mane are discordant. But it's a very nice way to work. Just to contemplate day to day, and shape slowly.

(There's a very funny skit from Little Britain where a man goes into a antique shop and asks if they have "a painting of a disappointed horse. " For some reason the kids and I crack up over it every time we watch it. We still have no idea what a disappointed horse looks like, but this isn't it. What stud horse could ever be disappointed with his lot?)

(Left click on image to enlarge).