Whilst out on a walk in our local woods, we came across this chap and his magnificent horses demonstrating traditional logging methods. I took a number of photos of him in the hope of getting one I wanted to paint. Fortunately I got one that I liked.

I’ve approached this painting in a slightly different way to my usual paintings. Starting with a wash of raw umber, I then scrubbed in dry paint and rubbed some off until I’d created quite a more detailed than usual under painting.

Rather than building the paint up in layers, I painted the entire painting with 2 small brushes, mixing and placing small tiles of colour of roughly the same size next to each other with little to no blending.  I focussed almost entirely on making sure each brushstroke was the right hue and value – paying less attention to edges. I treated my underpainting as accurate, following this almost like a painting by numbers.  After several sessions, the board was covered in paint.

What’s interesting about this method is that it’s very difficult to tell if the painting is working or not until you’ve covered the entire surface, as each area is fairly meaningless on its own. It’s all about the overall effect.

I wasn’t happy with a few areas, particularly round the man and the horses, so added more details, blending and sharpness to improve their reality and create a focal point for the painting.

I can recommend this exercise as a way to practice forgetting about detail and becoming more disciplined in mixing  colours correctly and placing the paint in the right place. Its unlikely to paint all my paintings like this but it’s added some useful new tools to my repertoire.