Back to Horses


This is an exciting Christmas Gift commission for a horse-crazy little girl. Reminds me of myself at her age! Keeahna is in on the secret so she can take part in the whole process. We had a delightful conversation as she told me exactly what she wanted in her Christmas painting: a beautiful, shiny black horse running through a field of red, pink and purple wildflowers!

Moving to the canvas, the outline of the horse is lightly penciled in. Then I begin washing the horse in with a brush dipped in a thin mixture of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. Please remember as you read through my blog, you may click on any of the images to see them larger.

Sunlight accentuates the 4 equal divisions of the horse’s head as shown in the following diagram.

I drew this illustration for the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington in 1992. It was one of several equine anatomy charts I did that they used in their Equine Management Program. Using the length of a horse’s head is a convenient way for an artist to make certain the one they are painting or sculpting is proportionally correct. The smaller drawing shows the 4 equal divisions of the head.


As the horse is washed in I’m able to go back in the dark areas with a clean brush and “Lift Off” the shiny highlights on his coat.

Bracing my left hand against the canvas gives me a solid support for my right as I work on the horse’s hindquarters.

I really like the action of the horse reaching out in a full gallop!

VIDEO DEMONSTRATION: Washing in the Background

ALL washed in and ready to begin painting in our next session. Hope you’ll come follow along. 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!


8 Responses to “Back to Horses”

  1. Pollio Says:

    Just adore your talent. Soon Glory and Valentino

  2. Patricia Ann Ingram Says:

    Mikki, did you let the horse dry any before washing in the background? If I had been washing in those trees and went across the tail as it looked like you did I would have had to re-washed in the tail. Hope that made sense. I love your work, but can never hope to imitate it, only learn from it. May God Bless.

    • Mikki Senkarik Says:

      Patricia, Yes, the horse had dried for a couple of hours while I ate lunch and did some business stuff. Then I washed in the background. Did kind of mess up a hoof but was able to fix it. I really appreciate your kind comments and glad that my blogs are helping you learn. Always feel free to ask questions, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Hugs, Mikki

  3. Zoe Says:

    Mikki, could you please explain the placement of the horse? We can see that you placed it in the right two thirds (or is it three fourths?) of your canvas and more or less in the middle vertically. Also, could you have made the horse facing the right part of the canvas? Thanks in advance!

    • Mikki Senkarik Says:

      Hi Zoe, Good question. Since the horse is moving to the left I made certain to leave plenty of room in front of him to run. You want your subject facing into the canvas, with more room in front than behind. If he was in the same spot but facing to the right he’d run off the canvas! Hope this makes sense. Thank you for following my blog. HUGS, Mikki

      • Zoe Says:

        Mikki, thank you for the reply! Actually, I meant to ask if you could have made a mirror image of what you actually did. That is, the horse facing to the right always with more room in front than behind. Does it matter which way the subjects face?

  4. Mikki Senkarik Says:

    Zoe, Jack always used to say looking at a painting is like reading a book. We learn to read from the left to the right. Therefore he said always have the light coming into a painting from the left, your eye follows the light. Keeahna’s Dream is an example of that. The horse is heading to the left, into the light, so his head is highlighted. But I’ve also found when painting pieces for galleries where you have several hanging together it’s good to have a variety. Some with light coming in from the left, some from the right. Then all of your subjects aren’t facing the same way. This is a long way of saying it really doesn’t matter which way the horse faces. Thank you again for following my blog. HUGS, Mikki

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