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In the Studio This Week – Continuation of a Theme with Mixed-Media

In the studio this week I started the next section of The Mastery Program, moving into mixed media, a technique I thought I was comfortable in. I completed (?) two paintings and decided to stay with a continuing theme of using horses as reference material. I completed week 18 of the Mastery Program. By the end of December, I should be on track to be one-third of the way to completion. Whew! I’m going to take a several days off and focus on family and friends over the Christmas holiday. I hope you can do the same.

Bay Horse

This lesson was an introduction to acrylic paints using different ways to lay the paint on canvas. I chose a dark pay horse as a subject matter as my previous horse paintings were painted primarily with light colors. This is the subject I chose:

Photograph of a dark bay horse with a striking mane

I followed the lesson to tone the canvas with washes of acrylic paints. The purpose is to “kill the white” of the canvas as a white canvas is intimidating, like a blank sheet of paper to a writer.

Canvas covered in pastel wash of paint

Next, I used a pastel pencil to lightly sketch the horse. Then I started to fill in the drawing using acrylic paints and a glazing medium.  My first pass was pretty ugly:

First layer of a acrylic painting of a horse head in profile.

I added a couple layers and let it sit for a day.

Second layer of paint on a horse painting

I could see I made mistakes in the painting. The neck was too thick and the nose too short.  You can see where I used the pastel pencil again to sketch where the neck should be.

Third layer of paint on the horse portrait

One thing emphasized in this lesson is that acrylic paint lacks the richness and depth of oil paint and that it’s a good idea to enhance the painting using oils.  I thought my painting looked flat and decided to apply oils.  I think the result is better, but I just couldn’t nail down the colors needed to capture the highlights and overall tone of the fur.

Completed horse portrait finished in oil paint

Dribble Grey Mare

This lesson called for using paper as the substrate rather than canvas. The paper size was big – 22” x 30.” I taped onto a large sheet of cardboard. I chose another horse as a reference:

Photo of a dapple gray horse

I sketched the horse initially in pencil and then used permanent ink to outline it.

Pen and ink sketch of a horse head

Then I used inks and fluid acrylic paint to dribble over the paper in a loose style. I think I overdid it as I nearly lost the drawing in the process. I began to pull out the darks using transparent acrylic paint mixed with the glazing medium.

Initial wash of inks over the horse painting

The final painting is interesting, but not my favorite.

Painting of a grey horse done in acrylics on an abstract background


I’m looking forward to the next section focusing on finding my voice and developing my style. I thought maybe horses would feel authentic and fire my passion for painting. Now I’m not so sure. What do you think?

My next post should arrive after Christmas, so I want to take the time to wish everyone a peaceful and creative season. I also want to thank you all for continuing to follow my progress.

Photo of the author's Christmas tree

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