Wild Horses of the Camargue: the finished painting

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Well, this is the finished painting

Quite a lot of work building up the shadows on the horses. They have so much muscle which has to be shaded correctly. in order to look right. Having stared at this painting for so long, I just can’t tell any longer if it looks right or not

As well as showing horses, I also wanted to show speed and independence of spirit which these animals possess in the wild.

I wanted to paint the flamingos from the Camargue as well but commissions are backing up which is a happy problem, so sadly flamingos may have to wait for a while

I have been asked to paint something for Egypt Equine Aid which I am pleased to do, which may well be one of my donkey paintings which I have not done for years, so that should be interesting. They have a Christmas auction but paintings have to be in in November so not that much time

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Wild Horses in the Camargue: Continued

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I have started back on the Camargue Horses painting. Bit of a mess at the moment. This is the point where it is easy to lose heart and abandon the whole the thing. However I have always told myself to finish the painting. come what may, and so that is what I shall do.

So far I have masked the edges of manes and tails, as I would like them to appear white and flowing against the dark background. I have gradually built up the dark background using violet and transparent brown, sometimes mixed and sometimes alternately

Soon I shall have to take the masking off, and tidy up those rough edges where I have overlapped with paint, despite all my best efforts. The forms of the white horses will need to be built up carefully, light against the dark and dark against the light

I am hoping too that the light strip around the horses’ legs will look like dust thrown up by the hooves. Hoping is the word. That needs to look convincing.

I received another commission this morning, which is good. It means that I need to clear my easel soon, as there is a deadline. Still, what one might call a happy problem!

A Week in Sicily

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The Rooftops of Ragusa

We have just returned from a wonderful week in Sicily. I am exhausted as we packed a lot in, and did more walking than I am used to. The city of Ragusa is beautiful built on the sides of gorges, so dramatic in themselves. However everything is steep, and the climb we did to get this picture was no exception. I am not sure how many steps as I lost count at 150.

We were about ten minutes too early for the lovely baroque church in the background, so our guide took us to the top for the view, one picture and straight back down. Bit of a killer in the hot sun

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This is the way down, only more of it, as the steps wind on round the houses.

Sicily has been hit by several earthquakes in its history, but the big one in the c17 destroyed nearly everything. Consequently all the churches seem to be in the Baroque style following a massive rebuilding programme, in whichever town you visit.

Syracuse was fascinating with its wonderful archaeological park. Sicily was Greek from 750BC, and the park shows where slaves quarried massive stone blocks from the hillside for their building programme. Greek theatres followed by Roman amphitheatres abound. The Romans took Syracuse from Greek hands in the early third century, and also drove out the last of the Carthaginians

Sicily changed hands so many times throughout its long history. Goths and Vandals after the Romans, Arabs and then the Norman Conquest in the c11, creating the Kingdom of Sicily, curiously matching England which became Norman in 1066 just before Sicily

You often see images of St Thomas a Becket in churches in Sicily. Henry II of England’s daughter, Joan married King William II of Sicily. You may remember that Henry had Becket murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, an act that horrified the rest of Europe. William venerated Becket in Sicily in order to distance himself from Henry’s crime, which later Henry was to do penance for

Of more recent interest, were the location shots for the Montalbano  detective series shown on TV. These were in Raguso, Scipli and Punta Secca. Lost on me as I never watched the series however

Some superb shots for paintings, including the roof top view which I have shown, and also the beautiful Medieval windmills on the west side of the island. Still, for now, I shall be getting back to the drawing of the Camargue horses which I left before I went away

A nice message waiting for me when I got back. Someone is buying the painting of Langstone Harbour, which is shown in the archive of this blog somewhere

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The Medieval windmills and saltpans near Trapani

Horses of the Camargue: Preparing to Paint

Line Drawing on Watercolour Paper

The Line Drawing on watercolour paper

I have transferred the sketch just as a line drawing onto the watercolour paper. The size of the image is roughly what I want, about 30×40 centimetres

The painting will be interesting to say the least. The horses should be lighter than the background, and as you know, you can only go from light to dark with watercolour and not vice versa. The manes and tails in the photographs seem to glow as though they have light behind them. I think they will have to be masked out for that to happen. I may have to put background in first, which will be amusing

I won’t have a lot of time this week as we are going away soon to Sicily, another wonderful source of material. I think before I go, I will hopefully have time to give the painting an all-over wash of Naples yellow and Raw Sienna, which should give the glow of low sunshine that I want. Fingers crossed on that one

So, it may be nearer the end of the month before I can finish the painting completely. This won’t be an easy painting to do for the reasons stated. We shall just have to see how it turns out

 

White Horses of the Camargue

Camargue Horses

White Horses of the Camargue

When we were in the south of France a few weeks ago, we finished our voyage down the River Rhone at Arles. I have already mentioned my walking tour of the city in the footsteps of van Gogh, as well as the magnificent Roman amphitheatre

Just south of the city, and in the salt marshes of the Rhone estuary, is the Camargue region, famous for its semi-wild horses, its black bulls bred for fighting and also flamingos, which breed there, the only breeding ground of that species in Europe.

I say the horses are semi-wild. They roam the region more or less at will until round up time, but also they are used for riding, and the tamer ones used by riding schools and trekking stations. They are, I believe one of the oldest breeds in Europe, and because of the remoteness of the area, the bloodstock remains undiluted

I wanted to paint them. I do paint horses occasionally, usually heavy draft horses as I find them intriguing, but the Camargue horses are something of a challenge, because of their colour as much as anything. You can always find one white horse or two perhaps in a herd, but a complete herd all the same colour is unusual, and would make a striking painting.

I took some pictures of my own, which were shot from the hip very often as an opportunity presented itself, and were ok but not the best. I bought a photograph from a local, which was much more impressive, and am using this to compose something which I hope will make an interesting painting

I have sketched something out as above, using Paynes Grey watercolour which I now prefer to ink, which I think will work. Quite a lot of shadow of course on white and how to make it stand out against white paper will be interesting too. I shall transfer this sketch onto watercolour paper and see how we get on