The next ten or so posts will cover all the places I visited on this past trip, some familiar and well-loved and some new.
The two-week trip with Pokey emphasized the best wildlife viewing places that I’ve found. We headed west out of Ulaanbaatar on a sunny August morning….
and spent two productive days at Hustai, seeing lots of takhi and other wildlife. The wildflowers were still in bloom, too, which was lovely.
These horses were part of a group approaching a water hole right by the road; you'll have to wait for the painting to see the rest...
At first this harem was a long way off
But as we watched from behind a line of rocks, they drifted closer and closer
Finally, they grazed their way right past us in the fading light; it was quite wonderful to have them come so close
Marmots generally run straight for their holes when spooked, but for some reason we will never fathom, this one ran for a long way right down the middle of the road
These darian partridges were a new species for me
Black kite in a birch tree; "Hustai" means "birch" in Mongolian
Cinereous vulture, the largest Eurasian vulture which can weigh up to 30 lbs.
This grasshopper suddenly appeared on our windshield
Saw more spiders on the trip this year than ever before, including this one on a member of the phlomis family
Deep purple globe thistles
I’m currently working on a large painting that is the most complex one I’ve done yet. I’ll post it when it’s finished. But, in the meantime, I’ve kind of taken a break from it on and off to do something simpler and more straightforward, a head study of a takhi stallion I saw at Hustai National Park in 2006. I had a reference shot that I liked because of the shadow pattern, but as you’ll see there were adjustments that had to be made for it to work as a painting. I hope this step-by-step illustrates how important it is to not, as they told us in art school, get “married to your reference”.
My subject is on the right. A stallion keeping an eye on his mares on a sunny fall day.
The reference photo. It's a little out of focus, but, hey, I'm an artist. 🙂
When it's a simple subject like a head study, I dive right in with a brush drawing. Notice that I'm looking for basic shapes, not detail.
First pass with color, laying in shadow areas.
All-over basic color lay-in. Composition, drawing, value pattern set.
About mid-way through. The stage is set for the fun part. Head is almost done and it's time to do the neck, ear and mane. I worked those folds for most of yesterday afternoon. They had to read correctly, but not stand out too much. Notice that by this point I've ditched the hard cast shadow because it was too visually distracting. I want viewers to look at his head, not his neck. I worked the boundary of the shadow until I got what I wanted, keeping the edge soft.
The horse is done. Now I've started to put in a second color on the background. Not sure where I was going to go with it, but ended up liking it enough that I made it the final color. I liked the complementary color relationship between the reddish horse and the greenish background.
Hustai Takhi Stallion 22x28" oil on canvasboard