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November 15, 2008

Lori's Horse Portraits Goes To VHSA Finals in Lexington, Virginia

November 15, 2008 -- Today we are heading down to the Virginia Horse Show Association Finals in Lexington, Virginia. We have four young ladies from Whitestone Farms who train with Carol Hawley competing in various divisions. A fifth, who's horse won her division last year, is riding horses from another barn.  My daughter is included in this bevy, and it will be her second year at VHSA.

It's amazing how many people and horses are at this show.  The first day with transporting the everything and everyone to the barns at the Virginia Horse Center was a little interesting because of the rain.  Absolute downpour.  The horses didn't seem to mind, but the humans got a little wet.  And cold.  And muddy.  

My husband and I went down the first day to help with the set up.  Lori's Horse Portraits is featured at the Whitestone Farms area in the barns.  Yay!  (And thank you Whitestone!)  The riders stayed to practice and compete, but once we had finished, we had to head back home for work. (Boo)

Today we're heading back down, and my daughter competes in Pleasure Pony and Short Stirrup divisions.  There are so many folks in every class, last year they had two classes in Pleasure Pony, each with forty ponies!  I don't know how the judge even looks at them all.  It's great fun to watch, and even more fun to be down at ground level, being a part of the action.  Even if you're just a mom groom.

November 14, 2008

Lori's Horse Portraits Explanation of Painting Style

What is this Watercolor/Guache painting style?

In order to paint the amount of detail you see in the horses' faces, I use a combination of watercolors and opaque watercolor (called guache, which rhymes with squash) paints on arches hot press paper. 

Using a high quality, smooth (or hot press) paper allows more detail work.  Rougher paper adds interesting texture, but the finer strokes get lost in the lumpy surface.  Smooth, heavy paper not only allows finer quality work, but also absorbs pigment more consistently for more even, vibrant hues.  You'll note that the finished portraits have deeper, more profound coloring than most people associate with watercolor paintings.

I start with a line drawing and assemble my palette, choosing pigments that best represent the horse's coloration.  The paint is painstakingly applied in layers with a fine brush to build up the pigment and texture so the finished product looks velvety and rich.  I pay special attention to highlights, shadows and textures, noting the shapes created by the muscles and veins.  Also, a horse's face has different lengths of hair: their noses and mouths have excremely fine, short hair, if any at all.  Around their jaws, ears and neck, the hair is longer.  Capturing this change in texture is critical to presenting the horse's look.

An 8 x 10 painting represents over 30 hours of work.  If you do the math, subtracting the $65 per painting for materials, that comes in at under ten dollars an hour for the artist!  Most fine artists and commercial or graphic artists bill out at $30 to $100 an hour.

So why am I doing it?  It's fun! People love the pictures, and admit, I'm nuts about the horses!

Lori's Horse Portraits Up and Running!

October 28, 2008 -- After spending many years painting in various themes: landscapes, wildlife, flowers, modern, surreal, and boats (you can't live in Southeast Alaska and not paint boats...or fish, for that matter) I've finally put my passion for horses together with my love of painting.



I was so inspired after taking a photo of Oliver, a large sorrel quarterhorse, that I had to paint him. He's so calm and nice, a happy, honest horse who'll try his heart out for you.  When I was finished with the painting, all these qualities were evident in his face. You can see his soft eye, his relaxed but interested ears, his almost smug mouth.  He knows he's doing well and he's well loved. He likes to work, and protests when its time for his rider to go.  What a horse!

Oliver is owned by a lady who does love both her chestnut quarterhorses. She's out of town right now, but I can hardly wait until she sees this portrait. 




My next painting was of Rose, our newest horse. She is a three year old Hanoverian filly out of Marefield Meadows, and she's lovely. She's young and curious, as well as intelligent and focused. You can see her fine mind in her direct gaze and alert ears. Even for her youth, she has a regal bearing, and this self assuredeness was very fun to paint.

Her velvety coat is getting longer because the weather has turned cold, and her ears are fuzzy because she's still a baby, and they've never been clipped. She's very sociable and isn't sure about apples yet. Her favorite treats are peppermints. 

I was going to keep this painting, but her trainer (who first broke her to saddle) bought this portrait when she saw it. I don't mind at all, I'm going to paint Rose again, probably several times because she 's so expressive.

What a wonderful feeling to have connected with these two horses on such an profound level. Creating replicas of them that show not only their outsides, but having their spirits somehow shine through was wonderful. I already have my next two paintings lined up!