Sketching Secretariat

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The building and trees in the background are sketched with a brush dipped in an oil wash made of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + a liberal amount of Liquin. Even though many of the archways of the curved saddling shed will be covered by trees or horses I draw all of them in. This way I can make sure the architectural proportions are correct. Please remember as you go through my blog, you can enlarge any of the images by clicking on the picture.

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As I was planning the sketch for this piece Jack and I watched American Pharoah win the Breeder’s Cup Classic at Keeneland. That is how Pharoah is spelled, the owners misspelled it when they registered him, it has remained that way. I knew David was also watching and zipped him an email asking who his three all-time favorite race horses were. His reply was almost instantaneous, “Secretariat, Citation and Seattle Slew.” SO…..I had my horses for his Keeneland painting. Let’s start with Secretariat. Drawing him with the oil wash I decided to move him a little to the left so he won’t be so close to the edge of the canvas. You can see the shadow of the pencil sketch.

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A wash of Cobalt Blue + Liquin is used to delineate the distinctive blue and white checked blinkers of the Meadow Farm Stables owned by Penny Chenery. It’s funny, I’ve always associated Secretariat with Claiborne Farms but he never raced under their silks. He stood at stud and was later buried there.

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Eddie Sweat was Secretariat’s regular groom, I definitely wanted to include him holding the big red colt.

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Secretariat and his handlers are roughed in, tomorrow the sketching will continue. Hope you’ll come back and watch. AND……If you’d like to receive an email every time I publish a new post you can subscribe to my blog. CLICK THIS LINK and scroll to the upper right side of the page. You will see a heading EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS. Just enter your email address and click the button “Sign me up!”  It’s easy. And if you enjoy my blog please CLICK the FaceBook LIKE Button. As we say in Texas, “Much Obliged! Hugs,

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7 Responses to “Sketching Secretariat”

  1. Cheryl Smith-Bell Says:

    Mikki, Big red was much larger than you have him drawn as compared to the groom and normally the trainer saddles, and Lucian was no taller than a jockey. Just watch some old videos to refresh my memories of him! Almost his own head[man] shorter than Secretariat, at the withers. Love your paintings, and enjoy your blog!

  2. Pen Slade Says:

    Going to be a nice painting – btw – it’s Penny no Peggy – the owner of Big Red, her pet name for him – have you seen the movie? Secretariat?

    • Mikki Senkarik Says:

      Thanks Pen,
      I wrote the blog at the end of a very long day. My brain wasn’t working at full speed! I’ve made the change, Thank you. AND YES, We’ve seen the movie Secretariat and loved it. I appreciate you following my blog, Mikki

  3. Betty McLean Henderson Says:

    Thanks for bringing back memories of these beautiful horses. I know you will do them justice.

  4. Dominique Gaillard Says:

    As usual watching your painting evolve is a great pleasure as well as an informative, learning experience. My question pertains to your liberal use of liquin. I was tought by more than one teacher to use it sparingly and on top of the oil painting. Aren’t you concerned with potential cracking later on, several years later ? I ask because I see you use it like some use turps or white spirit to dilute paint in the first stages of setting up the initial sketch.
    I use an alkyd medium to some areas of my paintings but only later on.
    It would be interesting to hear your take on your method and I thank you very much for sharing your process and evolution of the various works you develop for your clients.
    Yours artistically
    Dominique

    • Mikki Senkarik Says:

      Dominique,
      The standard saying in oils is “Paint thin to thick”. The Liquin oil washes are thin, I use them mostly to draw in my initial plan on the canvas. Then I paint the piece in thicker oils. The thin washes under the thicker paint shouldn’t crack over time. Thank you for following my blog, Mikki

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