Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Workshop with Scott Waddell

This photo is a close up of Scott's demo piece. It shows the first pass of the contour drawing done from life, transfered onto the canvas....... the first pass of underpainting and the beginning of his form method of painting.

This is Scott working on the small color poster study of the model at the Gemini School of Art and Communication.

Scott is getting ready to release a new DVD instructional video the week before Christmas .........
Go to his website for more information  .....

This past September I attended a portrait drawing/painting from life workshop with Scott Waddell.  It was held at the Gemini School of Art and Communication in Austin, Texas. The only thing I knew when I signed up was I loved Scott's work and that I needed to do whatever I could to get there.  I was just hoping that he was a good communicator.  I was NOT disappointed.

 Scott's energy was non stop and he gave his all to make sure that each student ( about 15 all together) received attention and individual help along the way. He left you feeling that you understood what it was that was holding your own progress back and a clear understanding of what to do about it !  I was so inspired by his ability to articulate what he was trying to teach us about drawing/ painting and capturing a likeness in the portrait.

I admire many styles of painting the portrait...but I was searching for what resonated with how I am naturally drawn to draw and paint.  This was it.  It brought me literally to tears to have the light bulb come on for me and the way I needed to approach painting the portrait.  My general understanding was made so much more clear with Scott's approach.  Is it a "faster" approach?  Is it an "easier" approach? Is it an approach full of gimmicks and tricks?....NO.  Is it an approach that gives you the hope to paint portraits from life that could literally take your breath away?....Yes!  I highly recommend his workshops if you have the chance to attend.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Snowman and Harry" Painting featured in The Chronicle of the Horse Magazine

Yay !  The October 21, 2013 issue of the Chronicle of the Horse included my painting of "Snowman and Harry" on their art page.   I'm honored and excited to again be included in this very respected magazine.  Following this magazine since the 1970' has a special place in my memory.   An extra benefit to having the painting featured is that I hope it brings attention to the giclee prints of this painting that are available for purchase. 
The entire edition of 250 is earmarked for 100% of the proceeds going to the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and to the Kentucky Equine Humane Center.   So...if you are looking for a great gift that also benefits two very worthy causes.....think about ordering one for that special person on your christmas list.  Go to my website and you can download the order form there.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Snowman's Head Portrait at Rood and Riddle's Hat's Off Day Silent Auction....

Here are some photos showing the progression of the 11 x 14 sized painting that I did for the live auction event at this years Rood and Riddle Grand Prix dinner / fundraising event.  Since the method I use for oil painting requires the paint to dry a little between stages, I snapped some photos off my easel so patrons could see how the painting evolved back at my studio. They watched me put the finishing touches on it the night of the auction.  The painting was swept up , still a bit wet with some final touches, and auctioned off!  Many thanks to the winner and her generous support of the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and the Kentucky Equine Humane Center with her winning bid.  This piece now hangs at a beautiful farm in Paris, Ky.

So, from start to finish are stages of the painting.....

I started this one with a white canvas, no toning.  I used an ultramarine and burnt umber thinned with odorless mineral spirits for this drawing that was done directly on the canvas with this thin paint.  At this point....the general blocking in with geometric shapes, checking proportions, and the placement of the subject on the canvas are the goals.  Gathering old black and white photos and a few color shots of Snowman helped me to understand how his head was structured and what specific markings he had.  Years of studying horses enabled me to draw Snowman in a pose that wasn't already shown in any one photo reference.

Continuing the drawing..... blocking in the halter.  Visually measuring the spaces between the halter and the parts of his other words, checking on the negative spaces.  Accuracy of your negative spaces is a quick way to tell you if your drawing is straying off course.

Now that I have my sketch done....blocking in the dark background is my next step.....I check to see that the shape of the dark mass is going to work as a design element in the painting.  If it doesn't work at this stage.... you had better change it now before you progress because a bad balance in design at the beginning is not going to get fixed by the details.  It's like building a house on a good foundation.

All along I knew that I wanted to make this a back/side lit design.  Add your darkest darks into the subject. This is where you start to really use your ability to squint your eyes!   That really helps...because as I said...this is where you want to check on the general pleasing nature of the design...does it flow, does it have balance? Does it lead your eye around the canvas and the subject?

Satisfied with the major design decisions....I went ahead and started layering some color onto the background to make it more opaque.  I stuck with ultramarine blue and burnt umber, making some areas heavier in the blue tones and some in the brown.  At this point, I know that when I sign this painting, I'll be scratching my name into the last wet layer and revealing the lighter you can see that I've blocked in that lighter layer at this point in the lower left hand side.

Here I am going back to Snowman's head and layering some half tones into his structure...starting to "carve" with the paint and show where the light is landing without being quite so hard edged.  Softening the transitions between light and dark at the point.

I went ahead and layered the last layer of dark background around the painting and scratched my signature in while it was still wet....revealing that lighter color that I placed there earlier.  Who says you have to wait until the painting is finished to sign it? Also...slowly delineating the drawing with color...picking out the structure of his head with cooler bluer shades of white and grey.  Beginning to block in a bit more detail such as the exact shape of the eye and the construction of the halter.

Knowing that I've checked and double checked the drawing and feel good about it's accuracy by this point, now I can start layer some coat color, major markings ( flea bitten grey in this case). You may be able to tell that I made a change in his fleece noseband and muzzle area.... lengthening it just a little.  Yes, that meant re painting that whole area...but as I said...better now than later!

Still, at this point , squint a lot...make sure that your light is correct.... adjusting the hardness or softness of the edges. 

 Continuing more of the same as in the last photo.  Color saturation and value of the colors as the
details are starting to drop in.  Notice that I softened the harsh lines of his body so those lines and values would not compete with the head / face as the main subject.

 Feeling a little pressure to lay down the last details of this painting at the site of the auction, I absent- mindedly forgot to snap a good shot of the finished painting.  In the steps that came after the last photo, I concentrated on the little details that included dropping in the warm highlights...glazing in some reflected light and some darkest small shadows.  I especially wanted to drop in the details of his warm soft eyes.   So, there you have him....... Harry's beloved Snowman.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Snowman and Harry" official painting presentation at the Kentucky Horse Park 2013

I promised more pictures from Hat's Off Day at the Kentucky Horse Park and so here we go....let's start with this one that Len snapped.....

He captured the moment just as the painting of "Snowman and Harry" was being presented to Bill Cooke, the director of the International Museum of the Horse.  On the right is Harry de Leyer giving the thumbs up sign!  Elizabeth Letts, the author of the book "The 80 dollar champion" is hidden in this shot but she is standing next to Harry in the pink shirt.  I am next in the purple sweater.  Dr. Tom Riddle from Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington is holding the painting.  Bill Cooke, the director of The International Museum of the Horse is next to Tom and to the far left is John Nicholson, the executive director of The Kentucky Horse Park.   Standing center ring at the Rolex stadium with the painting image on the jumbo tron......looking at the one and only Harry de Leyer's reassuring smile and wink..... I couldn't have even dreamed that up......It is a moment that I will not forget. 
 I love this shot of Harry de Leyer during our tour of Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, KY.  He has a such a kind face.......because he is a kind person.
A surprise for all of us was to see the "80 dollar Champion" book cover jump standards at the Rood and Riddle $50,000 Grand Prix competition at Rolex Stadium that evening.  

After dinner in the sponsors tent I was happy to snap this shot of two "Hall of Famers" having a chance to finally meet.  Chris McCarron and Harry de Leyer. 

Good thing Len remembered to snap this picture of me and the head portrait of Snowman that I completed for the live auction event sponsored by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for the benefit of The Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and The Kentucky Equine Humane Center.  It wasn't even dry when it was wisked off to the auction block.  It now has a new home at a beautiful farm in Paris, Kentucky. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Snowman and Harry"

"The Eighty Dollar Champion, The Horse That Inspired a Nation", a New York Times bestseller by Elizabeth Letts has introduced the uplifting story of Snowman and Harry de Leyer to a whole new generation.

In keeping with this new stage of a wonderful story, I’ve created this original painting to honor both the memory of Snowman and his best friend, Harry de Leyer. Harry is now 86 years old and still going out to the barn everyday working with his beloved horses. When Mr. de Leyer saw a photo of the painting in its final stages, he said the following:

“It brought tears to my eyes…you got the slope of his shoulder that made him such a good jumper…and his eyes…they are perfect…the soft eyes that I first noticed about him…it is exactly Snowman”    Harry de Leyer

It has been an honor to work on this project for The International Museum of the Horse. This 14 x 18 oil painting will hang in its permanent collection in Lexington, Kentucky.  A formal presentation took place at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Rolex Stadium on July 27, 2013 during the Hats Off Day celebration. The author, Elizabeth Letts and Harry de Leyer were in attendance for the festivities. To say it was a memorable experience to be able to get to know both of these very talented people would be an understatement!

Limited edition giclee prints of "Snowman and Harry" are now available.  100% of the proceeds in sales from this giclee print edition of 250 will be divided between the Kentucky Equine Humane Center and The Kentucky Horse Park Foundation.  This year marked the 10th anniversary of Dr. Tom Riddle’s dedicated support of these two organizations through this fundraising event sponsored by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital of Lexington,KY.

Order forms for a giclee print of “Snowman and Harry” on 100% cotton paper are available through a downloadable order form found at

Check back….I’ll post some pictures of this memorable weekend soon………

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer is Flying By !

Since my last post at the end of April I've been to Alaska with Len and a group of friends, to Delaware to visit family and to Florida for our summer family beach trip ( blood pressure just went down thinking of that one .... :-) ) So....when I stepped foot back in the studio I have been working long hours on some commissions and a very special project that I'll blog about soon.
Recharged and excited about all of my in progress paintings.

 In the meantime,  here are a few shots from Alaska .... an incredibly wild and beautiful place. If it's not on your bucket list, it should be ! The first picture is a view of a glacier while flying into Taku Lake Lodge near Juneau on a float plane.  The next one are some of the incredible sled dogs who were anxious to give us a spin on the training sleds at the summer camp near Skagway.  The Third picture is the black bear visitor who cleans up the good juices in the sand under the big outdoor salmon grill at Taku Lodge.  No he is not tame.  I had a long lens :-). The last shot was a crab from a very fun 3 hour cruise on the Aleutian Ballad in Ketchikan.  Yes, the vessel is retired from the t.v. show "Deadliest Catch"..... I'm thinking this life is much easier demonstrating rather than actually heading out to the Bering Sea!
No wonder the summer is flying by.... back to the easel......

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Delivery at Rolex KY

 Last weekend Len and I drove up to Rolex with a specific deliver this painting of last year's winner of Rolex KY.  Here he is, "Parklane Hawk", with his championship ribbon waving in the KY breeze!  We had an opportunity to meet Carole Gee, the owner of Fernhill Sport Horses of Kilkenny, Ireland as she purchased this piece after seeing it on the Eventing Nation blog the day before Rolex started.  Was I a little star struck getting a chance to meet someone who has contributed so very much to this sport ?..... yes...I was and I'm not ashamed to say it!  What a nice person she is and what an honor it was to meet her.  To name the horses that she has brought up into the sport is a list of champions now competing all over the world.  Her website is

This portrait will eventually hang in the home of Catherine Witt...yes, another name well know in the upper levels of Eventing as a dedicated owner!  She not only owns "Parklane Hawk" but owns the horse who came in second this year at Rolex, "Seacookie"..both ridden brilliantly by William Fox-Pitt. 

So, this week is  Badminton Horse Trials 2013..... can keep you updated on what's going on across the pond!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

2013 Belle Meade Plantation Solo Art Exhibition

In less than two weeks I will be at Belle Meade Plantation's Visitor center's art gallery to open my solo exhibition for May 2013. This will be my fourth year showing here and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to show in a place so steeped in the history of both the thoroughbred and sporting art.

The image you see here will be on the invitation postcards sent out in the next week.  It is a portrait of one of the hounds of Chula Homa Hunt in Mississippi.  "Anticipation" is a 9x12 oil and is your sneak peak of one of the paintings that will be hanging at the show.   The show is a mix of subject matter that is all related in the world of equine sporting art and wildlife.

 West End liquors will provide a wine tasting and there will be light hors d'oeuvres.  The opening reception is casual and held at Belle Meade's Visitor center ( 5025 Harding Pike  Nashville, TN 37205)  from 5:30pm to 7:30pm on thursday, May 2nd.  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A busy beginning of the year!

Is it March 2nd already ?  Yes,it seems so.  The beginning of this year started with a bucket list trip to Sydney Australia and New Zealand with my hubby.  How many pictures did I take? Well, put it this way, thank goodness for the invention of digital photography.  I'm thinking that it was around
1500 shots.  I came away with lots and lots of wonderful inspiration for future paintings.  We knew that we would love it down under and we were not disappointed.
Here are just a few snapshots that I pulled from the lot....... first is the Sydney Opera House, of course one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.
Onward to Tasmania and the original site of the penal colony at Port Arthur. 
So many beautiful vistas around Dunedin, New Zealand with it's Scottish heritage apparent. This view was leaving Dunedin.
After a visit to Akaroa and Wellington, we made our way to a sheep station at Clifton Bay, New Zealand. 
Enjoyed a great day walking around Mt. Maunganui in New Zealand.... some people we met there said it reminded them alot of the Monterrey Bay area of California.
Arriving in Auckland....we drove across the countryside to the West Coast and the beautiful
Piha beach.  Also visited a rainforest area and enjoyed a relaxing hike to appreciate the local flora and fauna.
Stopped by the Bay of Islands in North New Zealand where the weather warmed up a bit and headed back to Sydney on "Australia Day" Arrived with a big celebration in the harbor with Tall Ships and such.  It reminded me of our Fourth of July celebrations, fireworks and all.  
Well....I left out a lot, but I don't believe in disgustingly long blogs.  If I included everything I would have broken that rule! 

After arriving home and visiting family to celebrate my mother in law's 90th birthday and a trip to the Frist Museum with my son to enjoy the Dutch Masters exhibit....I'm so full of inspiration, I'm about ready to burst.  That's a good thing because I only have 9 weeks until my solo show at Belle Meade Plantation opens and I'll be in the studio with blinders on until then!