Here is another oil painting on beetle kill pine–the third in my series of Western American Plains animals.
I made each of the three paintings with a primary color hue for the background, and for this amber yellow ground, I wanted to contrast it with a blue roan (opposite color scheme of the Pronghorn). After looking at lots of photos of blue roans, though, I decided to switch to a piebald with blue highlights. I’ve loved piebalds and skewbalds since I was little (piebalds are black and white paint horses, skewbalds are red, brown, or gold with white) and since they are often found in the wild, I really liked the idea of using one for this painting.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I ran into some trouble with this piece. I couldn’t get the area under the horse’s feet to work, and I ended up trying several different ways of creating a foreground. Beetle kill is not very forgiving (since my main goal is to keep the grain and beetle patterns visible) and my constant rubbing out and repainting was beginning to muddy the wood.
I finally hit on a cloud of dust. It worked much better than the flat prairie I was trying to create, and I was able to pull in the reds and golds from the rest of the wood, instead of introducing a flat line of contrasting color, which was obviously not working.
I am really happy with the final product. The wood has a warm, rustic feel, and the contrast of the piebald against the amber is just what I had in mind. I love how the cloud of dust materialized–just another of those unexpected turns and twists that come with the territory of making art.
This is the last of my large semicircular pieces of wood, so until the next giant beetle kill tree comes along, I’ll be working with some small, irregular chunks. Any suggestions?
The piebald mustang is now available in my shop.