Mongolia Monday- Starting a New Painting and You Can Follow Along

I had an idea for a painting the instant I saw this scene on the way back from the Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve in 2006.

source-photoI love the colors, the clouds, the Mongol horses grazing, but compositionally it’s a long way from a painting. My plan is that this will be a major work, as in large, maybe 3’x4′ or more since I want the horses to be big enough that I can really paint each one individually. I learned this approach in art school when one of my teachers showed our class a painting he did of the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence. Why so big, we asked. Because I didn’t want to paint the heads any smaller than an inch high, he replied. Oh, we said. Taking that as a beginning, he knew how big the painting would end up being. I’m thinking each horse at 3″ to 4″ from the back to the ground. This could change, but it is a starting point.

The process I’m going to demonstrate is the one taught me at art school when I was studying to be an illustrator. I don’t always do all the steps, but this time I probably will, both because it’s a large piece and because other artists might find all or part of it useful in their own work.

The next step was to do a small thumbnail to get my initial vision down.


This took about 30 seconds, but it has the essential information: low horizon line, mountains in the background, clouds stacked up picturesqually, one large and one small group of horses grazing. The proportions aren’t right yet, so I’ll be doing more thumbnails, as many as it takes.

In the meantime, I’m also doing fairly quick drawings of horses grazing and moving to see which ones I think will work in the painting.


To Be Continued…..

4 thoughts on “Mongolia Monday- Starting a New Painting and You Can Follow Along

  1. The foreground looks a seriously eroded gully headcut, and a degraded too heavily grazed landscape.


  2. Kt is right. This was taken less than an hour south of UB, along the road that parallels the railroad. There are gullies like this all along it and the land is pretty beaten up.
    Overgrazing has become a serious issue in Mongolia as the number of livestock have increased.

    My impression is that the number of cattle has gone up a great deal since my first trip in 2005. And anyone who is familiar with the American West knows what too many cattle on the land can do to it.

    It has sometimes seemed that every other scientist or researcher I meet there is working on sustainable land use issues.

    I’m hoping on this next trip to be able to see the steppe as it was and should be.

    The sad thing is that the Mongols have lived on the land with their animals for many centuries, but somehow the balance has broken down. Restoring it is going to take a lot of work, but it’s well worth doing.


  3. Hi, I’m Risa. I’m into creating graphics and cool pictures on photoshop, and I was wondering if I could use your one of your drawings as part of a picture.

    Please and thanks 😀


  4. Thank you for your interest in my work. However, I would prefer that you not use any of it in your own creations and the you respect my copyright. All the best to you!


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