The Dream Horse series express my impressions of equine beauty, power, and grace. This post will describe the artistic process of creating my newest Dream Horse, “Carousel.” This horse is named after the royal carousel horses of European Baroque courts. He embodies the round muscular body of a classical horse from that era. In drawing his head, I created very stylized shapes that flow into the jaw area from the eye and the ear.
As with many of my horses, I start with a detailed pencil study. In this horse, I wanted to use pattern to describe the musculature, skeleton, and hidden anatomy under the horse’s coat. Ever since my husband and I decorated a pair of boots for an art auction in the African Mbuti style, I have been fascinated by African pattern motifs and style. As this horse unfolded, I found myself referencing the free flowing, organic pattern development of the Mbuti to express equine anatomy. Choosing Mbuti pattern was an appropriate option rather than using strict geometric pattern as one might find on a mosaic tile. Strict geometry would have resulted in a flat , static image, with the pattern not integrated with the horse’s form.
After transferring the drawing to watercolor paper, I painted a light value wash with warm colors, planning a manganese blue overglaze. I, then, painted the darkest shapes to establish the value range. To ground the horse, I added geometric shapes under the hooves, but the composition needed more interest in the corners, so I added graded washes at the top and bottom of the painting. Next I added the pattern mask only in the warm light wash areas where I planned the blue overglaze. The mask allows negative pattern development in the form of resist, complementing the dark positive pattern shapes in the mane and tail area. As I was painting the tail, the dripping diamonds suggested the free flow of a swinging tail. I added a few diamonds to the forelock to add unity to the hair treatment. As I was drawing patterns with the mask pen, I strove for a sense of volume through pattern movement and direction. At that point, I decided adding organic pattern to the background washes at the top and bottom of the painting would further unify the painting.
I liked how the painting was developing and was anxious for the mask to dry, so I could apply the final glaze. Stay tuned to see the final result.