Clydesdale Watercolour

Years ago I worked for a horse magazine in the art department. Part of my job was to set adverts and I always loved that part of the job. I am not actually a horse person as such but did enjoy the whole aspect of getting great horsey photos to play with in design. My favourite breed of horse would have to be the Friesians, black beauty’s with their free flowing manes and their long haired hooves. I do admire great photos of beautiful horses and any animal, I love to paint all kinds.

I came across just one such picture of a handsome Clydesdale and just jumped straight in to paint him. I love it when I get in those moods when I am feeling inspired and just go with it. Photo reference I used is from Ainslie Gilles-Patel, she takes beautiful photos of horses and is in fact a very talented horse artist.

I’ve taken some photos along the way to share, pictured below. At the start I stumble a bit trying to get a beginning, I often start with eyes because they are a focal point on any portrait. Making colours with my watercolour set is fun, I love mixing a bit of this and that, test the colour on spare paper and when I’m happy just lay it down. I don’t like hard edges much so tend to blot my paintings with tissues to soften or just blend well with my brush as I go.


First layers are always light, I prefer to layer and build up depth rather than lay solid colour. I often come across other colours I never saw at the start of the painting and add these as I go.


I fiddle a lot, whenever I try and loosen up and do a loose painting I end up reworking it and smoothing sections, I can’t help but play around and fix things, so this is the artist I am.

The above photo shows my set up, using Winsor and Newton Cotman set, I love this set! I have 45 colours to play with. I’ve taped down my edges on my paper to keep my paper flat, when applying water the paper will buckle a little or lift as such, the tape keeps it more secure and it dries flatter. I’m just using masking tape, should invest in some painters tape instead really.

Above is the final artwork with a drippy purple and apricot background. On A5 hot press 300gsm so nice and thick and smooth. Just a small painting, but the amount of hours I put into any painting does vary depending on how much detail is needed and how good the reference photo is. This particular painting took me 5 hours to do over a couple of days. I will be uploading this design soon to merchandise like mugs, cushions etc at Redbubble. If your interested in buying this painting please inbox me, will be for sale soon on HolleyRyanArt

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