Particularly when it’s a subject I haven’t painted before or one that is somewhat complex, like a horse and rider, I’m more and more inclined to do finished drawings before I start the painting. It’s a good way to find out if the reference image “draws well”, sort out parts that turn out to be tricky to understand, work out the essential value relationships and just get a general feel for the subject. The more problems I solve while doing the drawing, the more I can concentrate on the painting part. It allows me to simplify and refine the shapes since I will have drawn everything at least twice. Drawing is really the best way there is to learn what something looks like because the information is stored physically and mentally. Just looking at a photo or, worse, photoshopping and tracing a composition, doesn’t even come close.
So here are four drawings I’ve done over the past few days, all graphite on vellum bristol paper. They took four to six hours each. The reference photos all happen to be from the local naadam I attended when I was at Arburd Sands ger camp in August.