Expressing Motion in Equestrian Paintings
Today we’re going to cover a few key elements to enhancing your horse paintings through the expression of movement and energy! Learn more about choosing a good reference photo, how to begin your painting, the importance of a focal point, and how to show movement and energy to your piece.
Choosing a good reference photo is critical. It may be the deciding factor between an inspired, enjoyable time in your studio, or a despairing struggle for the duration of your painting.
Lighting is key. Choose a photo that has a definite distinction between lights and darks. For today’s purposes, I recommend having natural direction/angled light. Approximately 1/3 light to shadow.
A bold, deliberate technique is how I like to approach an equestrian painting featuring something as action-packed as a hunter jumper.
Fluid Sketchy lines (with paint thinned by medium) maps out the overall form of the subject. It also can serve as directions for how you want the viewers eye to be directed around your piece.
Be bold, but be accurate.
(If your drawing skills have not been cultivated, grab a pencil and work out several sketches before starting your painting!)
Hold Your Brush Back! (Art students…you know who you are…)
Do NOT crowd the bristles on your brush. This only tightens up your approach and limits the energy of the piece.
Paint standing back from your piece almost at arms length. Paint by moving your arm, not little wrist motions.
Stive for Energetic, Accurate Line.
Sketching is a problem solving process to discover the proper placement and proportions of your subject on your canvas. Look at your reference photo 80% of the time.
Use The Big Boy Brush.
Stop putzing around with tiny brushes when it’s time to MASS IN light and shadow. Use one large brush stroke instead of 10 small strokes. Say it with conviction! Don’t pat the thing to death.
Your focal point calls for more detail, or information of the surface texture. This is where it’s appropriate to incorporate harder edges, and stronger contrast.
Use soft edges to depict blur, and movement. By using the flat side of your brush you can allow the paint to run out in the canvas. Be sure the brushstroke is moving away from the direction the horse is heading. This is a great time to play with different paced brush strokes. See the difference in slow, methodical strokes compared to an energetic movement of the brush.
I personally love the addition of line (when appropriate) in an oil painting. I feel it gives a real description of the artists personality and style. A beautiful weightier line adds energy and style to a painting.
Remember, you are a PAINTER, not a photographer. (in this case) We’re not aiming for an exact replica of the original photo! They have photocopiers for that. This is where your personal creativity meets reality, and is expressed on canvas!
Be bold, be accurate, be creative.
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Is this a different approach than what you’re used to? Are you a painter or art appreciator?
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