How to Paint a horse in oils part 1

Step by Step Horse painting in Oils – Pt 1

Original Horse Reference Picture

This pet portrait is going to be of this horse. I particularly liked this photo because of the color of the horse and the late afternoon lighting. This light is creating deep shadows and strong highlights. Look at how deep the shadows that are cast from the cheek piece & throat latch straps and how they are falling on the subject.

How to paint a horse in oils - Animal House Portraits - pet portrait | horse painting
Original Reference Picture

My Pallet

I tend to use a limited pallet depending on the subject manner. For this painting I used: Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow, & Titanium White. Also I used some Sap Green in the background, but it’s not included in the picture below. I start with a little paint for each and add (as needed) as I paint.

How to paint a horse in oils - Animal House Portraits - pet portrait | horse painting

Step 1: Draw the subject

Create a sound drawing of the subject. There is no need to get to detailed since the drawing will get obliterated from painting. Map out the whole subject and lock down the placements of key areas in the drawing.

How to paint a horse in oils - Animal House Portraits - pet portrait | horse painting
Horse Drawing

Step 2: Paint the Background

Before starting on the horse itself, layout the background in paint. In this painting I wanted to keep the blurry outdoor setting that is represented in the reference photo.

How to paint a horse in oils - Animal House Portraits - pet portrait | horse painting
Step 2: Paint the Background

Step 3: Blocking in shapes

In this step I blurred the background by lightly dragging a two inch dry brush over the canvas horizontally. Once completed, I started on the horses head itself. I began by blocking in shapes, working from the dark to light areas, while concentrating on color and tones.

How to paint a horse in oils - Animal House Portraits - pet portrait | horse painting

Step 4: Adding the high points

Add the light areas of the face while continuing to add details

How to paint a horse in oils - Animal House Portraits - pet portrait | horse painting

Step 5: Adding Detail to the face

While blending the high area in, I’m concentrating on tighter details of the face in regard to the wrinkles and veins of the horses nose, around the eye and nostril area.

How to paint a horse in oils - Animal House Portraits - pet portrait | horse painting

Painting a horse in Oils part 2

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