Don’t Fence Me In!


We’re traveling to Wyoming for our next painting! My collector visited there and asked me to capture their memories on canvas. The famous TA Moulton barn, with the distinctive mountain line of the Tetons in the background, will be featured. He’s an amazing photographer and provided me with wonderful images to work from. A small sketch is done to establish the arrangement of the major elements on the painting. 


What would a painting of the West be without horses? To sketch the composition on the canvas I begin with the pair that is running. Since they are in the foreground I want to get them drawn first. The placement of the other horses and the barn on the canvas will be determined after the pencil sketch of these two is complete.


Next I draw the barn with a brush dipped in a very thin oil wash made of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. My wrist rests on the mahl stick to steady my hand.


Now the other horses in the meadow are added. I’ve been asked if I “Make Up” my horses or do I use photos? I use reference materials for almost everything I paint. I’ll combine lots of different pictures to compose a scene but rarely do I make anything up. Over the years Jack and I have accumulated thousands of images we use for reference.


There is nothing as beautiful as a horse running freely with mane and tail flowing in the wind.


These two appear to be racing for pure joy!


OHHHH NNOOOOO! I had originally planned for a pole fence to be in the corner of the painting. You can see it in the pen and ink sketch. But WHOA! The fence seems to ruin the freedom of the horses’ movement. It’s like they are snorting, “Don’t Fence Me In!”


That’s easy to fix. We purchase double primed canvases, then I apply another thin coat of Acrylic on top of that. This makes the surface slightly slick, it’s easy to erase my oil wash drawing with a clump of toilet tissue dipped in Turpenoid thinner.


To anchor the foreground I add a small brook, this way the horses can be wild, crazy and FREE! Much more open and inviting, don’t you think? If you would like to receive an email every time I publish a new post please feel free to 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!

3 Responses to “Don’t Fence Me In!”


    Look forward to seeing this finished painting! Might “need” one of these for the gallery!!

  2. Deb Haney Says:

    I love, love, love the brook!!!! The horses are gorgeous with their manes and tails flowing as they race through the field!!! This is already pure beauty!!!

  3. patriciahinckley Says:

    Mikki, Watching your process is so helpful….thanks! Patricia

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