Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Domination of the Dapple Grays!

Yes! This August my studio is being dominated by all the dapple grays getting finished up and hopefully ready to go out the door by the end of the month. Another appropriate title would be "Death by Dapple Gray".

My poor white oil pencil keeps getting shorter and shorter. Pretty soon it will be just a little nub of a thing and I'll have to toss it. I hate tossing pencils. I will work with them until I cannot find a sharpener that will get the job done - usually leaving me drawing with a little 3/4" stub of a pencil, fingers protesting at working with such a small object.

Any artist will tell you that dapple grays are the hardest color to paint. They've definitely been my personal challenge for the last decade. However, something crazy happened while working on the Stormwatch. I had my airbrush base roughed on in there and was taking my white paint to try to tone some of the darkness down when my hands started to move of their own accord. Seriously. I remember thinking to myself, "That's odd..." while I watched them go. Within 30 min I had a section of blocked in dapples that looked fantastic. Now white painted on top of things tends to make a blue gray hue so I took some pigment and dry-brushed burnt umber and black into areas to warm it back up. Add another layer of finely painted white hairs on top of it, add cool contrasting flea-bites and bam! I had a dapple flea-bitten gray I could be proud of.

Of course I couldn't stop there. I got to thinking, "What if I did this?" and "What if I did that?" and had to grab the next commission order that had been neglected due to the complexity of it's color - a portrait gray on an Esperenza (the original) body. This order has been gnawing at me for a while, but I have learned from experience that when I struggle with a horse, just set it down and there will come a time when everything will fall oh-so-easily into place and the end result will be a million times better than if I were to have sat there and fought with it. Sure enough, this piece's time has finally come and I am moving on her! I feel I've matched the owner's mare perfectly! I've already painted over the other side of the piece and the areas already started to continue on with this new technique.

Here is the mare that she's a portrait of:

The last two pieces are sales pieces - the Rose Reiner and the Mini Ziryab. Mini Zyrab was another experimental piece and while I like the look of her, she's a different technique than the two above. I'm also working on a Rose Jezebel in dapple rose gray using the above technique and I'm finding out it doesn't lend itself as well to that small small scale. This is the reason I call them experimental pieces. I learn what works and what doesn't on what scale. I think I'll try a hybrid of the two techniques next time on a mini and see how it serves.

Mini Zyrab painted with wet on wet oils and then pencil detailing on top:

I'd like to see her dapples smaller and less uniform, but I'll continue onto her other side with the intent of matching this one. I'll know for next time to shrink them up.

And below is the Rose Reiner sales piece done in a more contrasty darker dapple gray with a lighter fore.

So I guess the story of this whole bit is that even if you have been painting forever, it's good to try new things out. The learning process is NEVER over and there is always room to achieve more. I for one am excited to start applying this technique over different base colors - I have a Gomez I am customizing for my own show string that I'll be painting dappled buckskin going gray. I'm eager to see if this technique will translate!


Carol said...

Wow! Can't wait to see them all finished, Jenn! The Esperanza in particular is spectacular.

It's funny how you can struggle and cast about for years before everything starts to "gel" and come together, artistically, isn't it?

Lynn A. Fraley said...

Really lovely Jenn -- those dapple grays really came to life!

Sounds like you've reached the fourth stage of competence, a blissful place to be:

"Unconscious Competence -- You master your craft. Your techniques have become automatic. Your body simply knows what to do, and works in sync with your mind to achieve even greater heights."

(quote from http://luannudell.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/the-fifth-stage-of-competence/ )

Great work Jenn!

Jenn Scott said...

Thank you, Ladies! I can't wait to see them all finished either, Carol. ;) Lynn, thanks for the link! I love ready up about things like that and feeding my knowledge addiction in all things. Very interesting!

Unknown said...

Would you by chance sell any?