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Dior is a good friend, and so is dr Roxs, his private attendant, trainer, and stable boy.
Dior has a very elegant head, and carries it beautifully, he is also very dependable and very kind. It was a pure joy painting this sympathetic horse.
I started off with a beautiful canvas, very good quality solid wood, covered with the best quality linen. The linen is stretched the ”wrong way around”, so the beautiful greyish green natural linen is up front.
This is real quality, this will last!
Now, before you can paint on linen you need to size it, with gesso or acrylic. Of course this means you loose the linen color, and some of the texture. To keep the linen as it is, while still be able to paint on it I sized it with Lascaux imprègne.
To get a start I did a quick line drawing in acrylic. The drawback on this style is that I can’t really make a mistake because I can never get rid of it.
When I am satisfied with the line drawing, and confident it will be a good likeness, with all Dior’s proportions and personality.
Then I put on some basic color, very ”meager” quite thin. This is one type of painting where I want to keep the paint thin, showing lots of handwriting. Again, if I mess up I cannot scrape it off and start afresh. Basically I do give up the advantages of oilpaint.
Painting several more layers actually takes time. I don’t want to mess up by putting too much paint on the canvas, which is só easy to do! Neither do I want to become too fiddly, to precise, which is also much easier to do than keeping it fresh and straightforward.
It’s really difficult to explain, but it is easier to do an over painted, over detailed, over ”photographically-realistic” painting than keeping a grip on yourself and stopping before you get bogged down.
and trust your hand!
Especially the final touches have to be spot on, right color, right place, right thickness.
It’s best not to think too much about it…
The real test of course is when Diors personal attendant gets to see it…
More about that later!
The portrait of Kit, a palomino Quarter horse mare, was commissioned by Rob and Dorien.
They are very happy with the painting.
I thought it would be quite interesting to know more about the lovely people who commission paintings from me, so I have started to interview everybody after I have delivered the commission.
This is the first interview!
Dear Rob and Dorien, you have chosen to commission a portrait of your horse, can you tell us more about her?
Our horse is an American Quarter horse mare. She is 24 years old. Her given name is Bar Cat Classic, in daily life: ”Kit”.
We have owned her for 18 years, we brought her, imported from America, when she was 6 years old.
She is a very sweet, but also very self willed horse. We have only used her for recreation, we never entered her in competition.
Although she has a very heavy muscular build, I cannot discover any halter class horses in her ancestry, but a very diverse group with quite a lot of reining blood.
So we think she is probably and old fashioned all-round horse which would be nice and stable while roping a cow.
I did fall a lot for her lovely palomino colour when we brought her.
When and why did the idea enter your minds to commission a portrait of your horse?
When Rob was about to turn 70 in 2009, one of his sister advanced the idea to offer a nice picture of a horse as a birthday present. When we heard that we immediately thought of a painting of Rob’s own horse. So much more fun and more personal as just a picture of any old horse.
Why did you choose Aafke-Art?
We have known Aafke since many years as a member of our national horse association and have always been impressed with her skills in drawing and painting.
Especially horses are her passion, as is clear when one sees her art works.
Of course this common love for horses creates an immediate connection.
Over the years we have collected quite a nice collection Aafke-Art works We have lots of drawings, some colored, a lithograph, some watercolors, and of course lots of her postcards. And of course the ”Pegasus Handbook”
When the idea of a portrait of Kit entered our heads Aafke was the first painter of choice.
Now the portrait is finished and in your possession, how do you feel about it?
We love it! Especially those enormous buttocks! We also really like how Aafke has captured Kit’s charisma!
It is if she has been rejuvenated, Aafke has watched her carefully and has captured her movements from some years ago. We asked the old lady to do a couple of show rounds through the meadow, and Aafke saw enough to be able to paint her withe her original panache. Usually the old lady doesn’t show such powerful movements anymore in the meadow since she has developed arthrosis in her front legs. She is now enjoying retirement.
Are you satisfied with the Artist? The way she works and the time it took her to finish the painting?
We are very pleased with the style of the paining, no background, just the natural, structured brown linen – very special and very beautiful. Nothing detracts from the horse.
As far as the waiting went: When the commission was given Kit was in her winter fur and in summer her color is so much more beautiful! So we did decide to wait, but we were not in a hurry. By the motto: All good things come slowly. But we never felt we had to wait too long.
Well, and the artist.. What could we say about her?
Aafke is Aafke is Aafke. But then it starts to become a personal story and that is a very different story!
If I am onoy to talk about Aafke the Artist, then I say: very pleased, I admire her work. Time and time again I am amazed how fast she can work and only needs a few lines to really catch her subject.
I have witnessed the birth of the ”NVVR Kwartet” (a card game and the used as a gift for all our members). It was at one of our club-weekends and we have split our sides laughing about it! I saw flowing from her pen one madly funny drawing following the other with enormous speed and dexterity. The game has become iconic. For me personally my favorite card is :”The foresters daughter”, from the four cards ”Nature’s beauties” was one of the very best inventions.
Oil on treated natural linen
27,6” x 27,6”
This was sóóóó funny!
Due to the drought there isn’t that much grass in the meadow. Not that you would notice it by the Tarq’s condition which is extremely good, as per usual. (if not positively American Tourist size). But here was count Moritzo, defenitely in need for a snack, and who to our surprise turned out to be the most gymnastic, most circus-level athletic athlete in the herd.
Count Moritzo wanted the unreachable grass on the other side of the electric fence. So right in front of our eyes he stuck his right front foot out, sank down on his left knee, twisted his head and neck, and started eating away!
And this must be a long practiced habit because ever so easily he stood up, walked two steps and did it again!
I had to paint this!
Even if I had to leave my commission to work on it! (Don’t tell anyone!)
It’s a bigger canvas too: 27.6 by 27.6 inches
Count Moritzo needs a snack
Oil on canvas
oil on canvas
Leonard is the darling of M. He’s a New forest pony, and she used to ride him when she was a kid. After a few years he was sold. And somehow she always longed for him. A few months they found out he was with a girl who was putting him up for sale and her parents brought him back. He is now happily stabled at the farm where the Tarq lives.
This is painted a s a little present for M.
Because she is so nuts about Leonard!
This little equine portrait is a cute little filly which is being trained by my friend S. She came as a very scared little thing, grown up in the wild. She is the offspring of a mare from a free-roaming group of Exmoor ponies, and a naughty spanish stallion who escaped his comfortable lodgings to have a night of hanky-panky with the wild ladies. Who consequently gave birth to a pack of cruzados, all unwanted because the aim was to keep the Exmoors as a pure herd.
So little Kyra arrived as a shivering bundle of nerves, and my friend S has been working with, and caring for the little lady for about six months now. By now Kyra has about doubled in size, her somewhat crooked legs have become straight, and she has become a very sweet friendly little horse, enjoying working with S. and looking forward to every session, and looking at the world with open curiosity.
I was completely taken with her.
My friend S also likes photography and she had one photo which struck me in it’s monumental simplicity. She send it to me. I usually don’t work from photo’s other than using them for details, information. The danger with really working from a photo is that you get a very static painting. You can usually see at first glance when an artist has copied a photo. There is something languid and boring and static about such paintings.
Yet when one has to make a portrait of a horse on another continent, or one which has died, one has no choice. If I have to use photo’s and can’t meet the horse in person, I prefer to get a lot of photos. That way I can have a more complete image in my mind of the horse and it’s personality.
I think the major problem is that if you have such a clear, static, two-dimensional image in front of you, you tend to concentrate far too much on that easy image.
I have noticed paintings which follow a photo so slavishly that silly things are copied too, like a hoof dangling at a weird angle. Now the human mind works thus: if it is a Photo, your brain doesn’t really register a detail which is artistically a bad detail. But as soon as that image is transferred to a drawing or painting it becomes immediately apparent. So you should weed out those things which will look wrong in a piece of art. You should also avoid looking too much at the photo, but instead concentrate more on your painting.
So as I looked at that photo I kept seeing more details, more interesting combinations between blacks, greys and browns. I thought it would be an interesting study, use the one photo, try not to get bogged down with details, and explore those subtle colours.
Now of course I also know Kyra very well, but I really wanted this to be an excercise in using only one photo, and keep it fresh.
So what do you think?
This is also Diary painting 9/10 December. And to show you a bit of my painting process I show you the portrait half-finished too.
The photo of Kyra
Kyra half finished
9/10 december 2010
9” × 9” oil on canvas
It’s winter, it’s cold, and due to the slipperiness we don’t do much trotting and galloping. So dressing well is important.
- Sportsbra, sportslip, and tanktop
- Thermal underwear, top and pants
- Pullover, ridingbreeches and socks
- Jumper, thick woollen socks
- Shawl, wintercoat and thermo-ridingboots, and thin gloves
- Thermo-over-breeches and thick gloves, and russian fur-hat
Now riding in the winter is quite comfortable!
Tarq is very bored, not much to do in the meadow, no ”ludicrousspeed” when riding out, and he is in full winterfur! He looks so cute! Until his bad bored mood comes through! He’s also fat because there’s nothing to do….
An Arabian horse, just from memory.
Rabhar was my favorite model. The most beautiful friendly, sweet and adorable horse on the planet.
My father made a very hazy photo of him, but it had a something… a movement which was the inspiration of this large portrait in oils.
Rabhar was wearing his ”millenium halter” I made this, naturally, in the year 2000, and the coins are pence pieces from the year 2000. Naturally.
He is also wearing his Scytian saddle. The Scythians were a warlike nomadic people, who about 3000 years ago, invented the saddle. These saddles were treeless and had no stirrups, which were invented 1000 years later.
Sketch of Rabhar
Brown pencil on paper
9 by 9 cm
Photo of Rabhar, wearing his millenium halter
Scythian saddle, from a burialsite in Russia
The Scytian saddle I made for Rabhar
The portrait of Rabhar
Oil on canvas
1 meter by 1,50 meter
This is the first time I used ceruleum blue on such a large scale. I never used to like it very much, but now suddenly I felt I should use it. It makes a great contrast to the orange brown of Rabhar’s coat.
I was in the middle of the painting and I decided I needed a brighter blue, so I jumped on my bicycle and cycled to an artshop and brought some really expensive ”Scheveningen” with a brilliant ceruleum! Just what I needed!
The gold is real 23 karat leafgold. It is added as the last touch.