Thursday, June 12, 2008

Finished!! "Distant Thunder - A Tribute to Man o' War"

I'm happy to report that it's finally finished! I really wanted to complete this before the weekend, so I could just let it dry and ship it off next week. It was going to be hard to pack this and it's shipping box on the airplane!
So, notice a few changes? The biggest change is the position of Man o' War's head. Looking at it, I just didn't think his profile was prominant enough with his head down like it was. So, I raised his head up, and really punched the highlights and his white blaze to show up more. After all, he is really the star of the show here. And since I actually put some detail into this one, here's a zoom view so you can see his face. He was a beautiful horse, big and muscular and full of life.
His nickname was "Big Red", 16 .2 hands tall, and a lovely sorrel color.
I have to go back and look up the names again, but the two figures on the left are his owner, and his groom, who took care of him until his death and called him "The mostest hoss that ever was."
I think I might agree. He won 20 out of his 21 races, and the one race he came in second (to a horse named "Upset", by the way, and that's the source of that sports term!) there was a mistake by the starter, and Man o' War was facing sideways and not in the gate when the starter released and this caused him to get boxed in on the rail once he did get going. If he'd had another few feet, he would have passed Upset, but he just ran out of track. He went on to beat Upset 6 more times, and even Upset's owner said he wished that defeat had never happened, as Man o' War deserved to go unbeaten. It is said he never even fully extended in a race, that he always had plenty left at the finish, and still he broke record after record. He only raced 2 years, because the handicap weight he was going to be carrying as a four year old was so great that his owner decided to retire him. He went on to sire many, many champions, including War Admiral and many more.
It was fun painting him, and I hope in some small way it does pay tribute to a truly great race horse.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pushing the Limits

Alot has happened since yesterday! I had an intermediate photo, but it had some bad glare, so we'll just move ahead to this view.

Here, the color has been filled in.. First I covered the panel with the background color, as close as possible to what was there. Then I began filling in my shapes with the desired colors.

The biggest problem with this panel is the curved shape along the bottom.. it's been hard to work with. Overall, this design is pushing the boundaries of what I can do to maintain the general flow of line and color with the original shapes, but not actually use those shapes as a design in themselves. Got that? If you squint your eyes real tight - no, even tighter than that... and look at the picture, you can still see the basic shapes.. the vertical curved shape with a lighter color on the left, and the more obvious golden colored shape along the bottom. The dark place where these two meet has become two figures, I'll introduce them later. And while there is no actual line to delineate that left vertical shape, the shadows and forms of the horse and jockey clue the eye in to it's existance, and the figure is waving his hat to give just another bit of hint as to where that line is.. so, I think it works overall, and I just have to get real busy to refine it now. This one HAS been a challenge!

Committed to a plan

Given that time is very short for me to complete this panel, ( I have part of 3 days really - not much!) I decided to commit to a simple design, and see if I can make this work. I will probably push the limits of keeping the outlines intact. The shapes will not be anything but background in this arrangement, so I will have to carefully but subtly indicate their placement. I hope this will work!
So, the drawing is in place - a color image of Man O' War and jockey ( I forget his name at the moment) standing after a race, and an "atmospheric" rendering of Man O' War racing in the background. These images will be nearly transparent, and I will just use color placement to
indicate the lines of that vertical shape on the left.
Cross your fingers!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another challenge!

This should be interesting! This is the second panel for le Cadeau du Cheval - it arrived today and I excitedly unpacked it. Now I have to admit I am just a wee bit stumped by this one. I have a couple of vague ideas in mind, but I don't have much time to get this going as I leave for the Hardrock trip next Tuesday. And we have a 50 mile race this weekend in Vermont so I sure won't get any painting done over Saturday or Sunday. Looks like some late nights are in the making!
I had wanted to do a panel in honor of perhaps the greatest race horse ever, and certainly the greatest of the 20th century, Man O' War.
Let's see if I can pull this one off!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Final Image

So, here's the finished product. Not much different from yesterday's.. just a few refinements. I reduced the size of the dark background horse just a tad, as he seemed slightly too large. I also added "dust", fogging out the legs and hooves to give the illusion of dust being kicked up by their galloping. I double checked the original colors,(yesterday's photo is darker than actual) and felt satisfied I had stayed within the correct tonal range. Go back and look at the original panel and see if you agree. I added a bit of ground to the right of the horses, and just added some minor details to the trees, and a few vague shadows from the trees along the rocky hillside.
I guess it's done! I titled it "The Wild Ones".

I am also committed to do a second panel, in which I hope to pay homage to a historical horse. Watch for that one coming soon!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Refining and adding details

I made two major changes. First I reconfigured the background a bit, simplifying it. Within the tonal range that I must work with, I wanted to take advantage of the pinks and purples to portray morning light, which is usually pinkish in tone. With this thought, I added some more light to the horses themselves, giving a clear direction of where the sunlight is coming from.
Second change was to the horse in the very far right corner. I felt it needed a bit more space to clearly define it, so I added some more "rump" in the background color.
I used the mother color in all the horses, most notably in the white one. The two horses furthest from the viewer are left with less detail, and the darkest darks and lightest lights are reserved for the more prominant horses.

It's close to being finished at this point.. just need to touch up and refine a few things. If you squint your eyes, you can see that the basics of the original panel, the color and the shapes, are still intact, so I think the design is a success.