Breezing is my first attempt at painting race horses.

Painting Race Horses With Oil Paint – Step By Step

Time lapse imagery shows the various stages this race horse painting went through.
Time lapse imagery shows the various stages this race horse painting went through.

Painting Race Horses – Breezing

Drawing horses has long been a past time of mine. But painting race horses is something new. Breezing is the first oil painting I have undertaken in many years. Not only are oil paints, and fine art materials expensive, but it is frustrating to have unwanted results after putting in long hours and using up all those creative juices. Before starting to paint, I decided to review the process of oil painting. I was on the lookout for tips and tricks from the experts whose styles I admired. Being a highly visual person, I decided to focus on watching Youtube video art tutorials. While there are many available, I found the series most helpful to me was Draw Mix Paint by Mark Carder.

Visit Mark’s Draw Mix Paint website for more information, and a complete list of his videos. Mark is an incredibly talented artist, who generously shares his expertise on Youtube, and on his own website. Mark’s work is world renowned, and he has painted fabulous commissioned portraits of two Presidents of the United States.

Starting Out – Adjusting Lighting

I started out with the best of intentions of following his tutorials to the letter, but for various reasons I was unable to. I did the best I could, using what I had. First, I couldn’t duplicate the museum quality lighting. I did however, use all spectrum light bulbs in all of my studio lamps. This helped a lot to create the illusion of natural light. However, because I was unable to precisely control the lighting his color matching techniques were difficult for me to achieve.

Preparing The Substrate

Per his instructions I tinted the undersides of my glass palettes. As well as the substrate (in this case, panel) with a mixture of Winsor & Newton Griffin Alkyd Burnt Umber and Titanium White fast drying oils. I was pleased with the results. The color was perfect, similar to that of corrugated cardboard. When painting I was able to cover any area with only one coat of paint – even with white.

I did not use a printed photograph to work from, which to do correctly should be the same size as my canvas or panel. Instead I displayed the image/photograph I was painting on my computer monitor. I set up my easel nearby so I could reference it. Instead of using a chalk pencil to sketch the design onto the board, I used permanent black markers. Reason being I was afraid the sketch would get rubbed off, before I had applied all the paint.

Painting Race Horses – Choosing Paint Colors

I tried to stick with the 5 colors suggested by Carder (Titanium White, French Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson and Pale Cadmium Yellow. Carter teaches that with these 5 colors you can mix all colors with a few exceptions (some vivid reds and greens). For the most part I was able to accomplish this. However, as I got near finishing the painting I mixed in some other blues, green, raw umber, and Naples yellow.

Back to the difficulty I had matching color. I found using some additional colors out of the tube instead of mixing helped me to be more consistent. Which was particularly helpful when I needed to rework a section. Yet there is a lot to be said for working with a limited palette. However it does take practice and some getting used to.

Simplifying The Composition

In conclusion, I worked through a number of iterations and continued to refine the artwork. After talking to a colleague, I realized that the background was too busy. It was drawing the viewer’s attention away from the subject. So, I simplified and removed various elements. The outcome was a field of muted grass and trees, and soft blue sky.

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Sheila Alden

Beverly Massachusetts, artist Sheila Alden has been painting and drawing since early childhood. Sheila is a life-long artist uniquely blessed with passion and talent. The artwork she creates is bold and joyful. She has a deep love and admiration for the natural world. And as a result her artwork focuses on animals, flowers and nature, as well as a variety of other subjects. A variety of mediums are represented in her work. Which includes oil paintings, watercolors, oil pastel paintings, pen and ink and pencil drawings.