Teddy is the second of two horse portraits commissioned as special gifts for two sisters.  I hope I’ve managed to capture both horses’ characters in these portraits and that the paintings will stay with the girls for many years.

I loved painting Teddy as he had such a cheeky expression in the photo reference.  There were several shots of him to choose from but this one stood out as completely capturing the horse that was described to me!  Hope you enjoy his progress and a little of my journey through the Appennine mountain range down into Florence.

Teddy Horse PortraitThe finished portrait 12″x16″ soft pastel

Teddy-ReferenceThis was the reference shot we went with from the selection of photographs supplied by the client.  They also sent me a photo of some rhodendendron bushes which grow in the yard where the horses are kept.  I’m a big fan of creating a bokeh background which really sets off the subject in a portrait.  I took a small section of the photo, the most colourful area, and blurred this in the painting.  I think it creates a nice splash of colour behind Teddy.

Teddy1My first task is to sketch Teddy out and I’ve used the sandy coloured velour for this one as he has so many rich oranges in his coat and the background is also quite dark in areas.

Teddy2Here you can see my studio set up in the back of the motorhome.  My table swivels around so it makes this area quite adaptable as a workspace.  I tend to like a table top easel anyway as it allows me to spread my colours out in front of me as I use them.  I’ve laid out a few colours here to get me going on the background.

Teddy3Here I’ve blocked in the background with the darks first.  I’m starting to lay in the lighter tones and those vibrant yellows and pinks.

Teddy4Here the background is a little more blended with a few more lighter shades added.

Teddy5One ear started and it helps to start at the top and work my way down so I’m not leaning my hand on what I’ve already worked.

Teddy6Pic1We made the journey down through the Appennine mountains this week towards Florence.  I am visiting home (Northern Ireland) for a weekend and as I write this I’m on the last leg of my journey on the train from Dublin.  The wonders of free wifi!

Pic2We stopped so many times to get out and take photos of the scenery.  Thought I would share a shot of Freda our motorhome.  The name was chosen as she makes us ‘Freda Roam’!

Teddy7During our travels I tend to work mostly in the evenings when we have a moving day.  Moving happens usually in the mornings and when we get set up in a new location and all the chores done, I can settle down to paint for the evening, sometimes making use of my daylight bulb.  Solar panels on the roof to give me daylight during the night!

Teddy9Starting to lay down the grain and texture of Teddy’s coat and also making a start on his right eye.  It takes me a while to figure out the colours and the best order to layer them up in this type of coat.

Teddy11Showing you some of the oranges through to browns I’m using on his coat.  These are all Unison soft pastels, high quality and beautiful colour range.  I often get asked about making small details with these chunky sticks.  They don’t stay in their whole shape for very long, I often break them to find sharp edges and they naturally wear down into useful shapes.

Teddy12Working on down Teddy’s face and constantly going back to the top half to make those marks even finer.

Teddy13Feeling like I’m making good progress now and I start to work on some of the bridle.  It takes a steady hand so I sometimes work these areas before the face is finished mainly so I have some blank paper to anchor my hand on.

Pic4On our way to Florence we stop over in a small town called Fiesole.  It really was spectacular with surrounding views of Florence and the countryside behind the town.

Pic3The morning we leave for Florence we wake up to this view.  Those misty areas look like the clouds have fallen on the land.  It reminds me of a childhood story called ‘Chicken Licken’ who ran around telling everyone the sky was falling down.

 Pic5Sharing just a few of the pictures from around Florence.  I am flying back to Florence in a few days and hope to tour all the museums for a proper art binge.  But we did manage to see a few special pieces.  This is a replica of David, but still so impressive!

Pic6Admiring the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.  What an awesome building!

Pic7At the other side of this building. It is so vast!  I must get back for another look next week!

Pic8I love the horses around the base of this sculpture.  Truly enormous, it makes me wonder where you would start to create something like this!

Pic9On the way out of Florence.  I can’t wait to visit again when I have a bit more time to spend exploring the art.  Back to work on Teddy now though.

Teddy14Back to work on these straps and I make use of some pastel pencil to get the sharpest lines.  The colour in between those lines is then filled in with the chunky soft pastels and shaped back into place using the pencil.

Teddy15Really getting somewhere now.  I think my new favourite thing to paint is the velvety muzzle of a horse.  The velour I work on creates this effect so well.

Teddy16Teddy’s face almost finished.

Teddy17Working his neck and those plaits.  I’m keeping his neck a little blurred so it really looks as though his face is coming right out of the picture at us.

HorseportritsHope you have enjoyed the progress of both Ellie and Teddy.  I’ve enjoyed producing these pair so much and feel I have learned a lot about painting horses this past month.  I would love some more horse portraits in my order book as although I love painting dogs, it’s great to have some variety on my list!

If you have a commission in mind get in touch at info@emmacolbertart.com.  You can get an idea of my pricing on my website’s ‘Pricing’ tab which you’ll see at the top.

Thanks again for visiting!  Call back soon for more arty travels.