Curious Baby Horses - A painting in progress

Colts are a mischievous bunch. From the time they get their long, wobbly legs working and can motor around the pasture or corral, they are always into something. I’ve seen a foal climb right over his mama while she was lying down!

I decided to paint this colt because he was such a curious little guy. He walked right up to me and tried to take the hat out of my hand. He had a pretty bay color and a fine, chiseled head. I wanted to show the soft, furry nature of his coat, and he was a great model.

Let’s get painting! After sketching the drawing onto the canvas, I began filling in the background and establishing the darkest dark and lightest light. I got so involved that I forgot to take more progress photos. So here’s what it looked like as I filled in the canvas with color.
 
I wanted to keep the background soft, with curved lines to reflect the soft lines of the foal. So I made the clouds big and puffy, and suggested a fuzzy line of trees on the hill. It was a sunny spring day and the dandelions were just coming out.

The soft, fuzzy trees in the background complement the colt’s mane and furry behind. Soon all the baby hair will shed off of him and next spring he’ll emerge with a shiny bay coat. The “black” mane isn’t really black. It has lots of colors in it. I found that using color instead of black helped make it look full and soft. In fact, I don’t use black at all in my paintings. I make a very dark value by mixing colors like ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.

Moving on to the legs. Many times foals of certain colors are born with a different color than they will ultimately turn out to be. This bay colt, for instance, will one day have a shiny, deep, reddish-brown coat with black legs, mane and tail. But for now, those dark areas are more of a grayish tan color. His underbelly and the inside of his legs are a soft tan and will remain like that until he sheds his baby hair.
 
You can first notice the shedding off around the eyes and muzzle of a foal; it can make them sort of goofy-looking for a while! This colt is just starting to lose his baby hair – you can see it circling his eye and moving up his muzzle from the nostrils.

The head is the most important part of a portrait, just like with people, you want it to look like the subject. I had to carefully study all the aspects of this colt’s face, especially the eye, or “the soul of the horse”. I used some very fine, small brushes to capture the details in the face and eyes.
 
He had a beautiful kind eye which was fun to paint. I liked painting the little ridges on the forehead. After he sheds off they disappear. This colt had a fine appearance, and despite his rambunctious behavior, it was clear he had a gentle nature and was very friendly.
 
To see the finished painting click here. Thanks for stopping by!


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