“Heart’s Passion” panel 168 WIP by “Heart’s Passion” panel 168 WIP by
Equine Artists of the World Celebrate the Horse
“Heart’s Passion” panel 168
Work In Progress Blog by Kerry Nelson
When I got my panel from Mural Mosaic, I worked out some idea sketches for it based on the directional lines in the prepainted image. These six sketches are my first ideas, but, I had not fully decided which of these I wanted to use. I was leaning towards # 5 - an Arabian in native bridle, or, #6 - thoroughbred and jockey as my top choices. I already knew I was going to paint this using Griffin Alkyds which I had purchased earlier in the year and really liked using as a faster drying alternative to regular oil paints. They still offered all the flexibility of oils that I was used to, but dried to the touch within about 4 hours without using any additives that would make the paint more transparent. These paints also dried to a lovely even matte finish which I really liked.
This is the panel as I received it with its bright purple and pink underpainting The color of this photo is way off, just think pure, deep grape-juice violet, magenta, and, rose! Also shown below are the first six sketches I worked out for this panel
After doing the first lot of thumbnail sketches I decided I really wanted to do something more on this project that would challenge my painting skills and also would be along the lines of the type of work I have been leaning towards lately and really like doing. I worked on the previous six ideas a bit more, but, didn’t get anywhere until I started playing with the idea of doing a montage and came up with two new montage thumbnail sketches. I knew as soon as I had the idea for this last montage that it was the one!
Even though it still needed working out on paper more, I just felt right away that this was the direction I wanted to pursue for this project. It is a sentimental, fantasy piece, but, I think it really speaks to the heart of anyone who grew up loving horses as a child, or came to love them as adults! This has a bit of fantasy and surrealism to it, while being rendered in a more realistic/impressionistic manner. It also falls into the post-modernist style with its multiple pictures montage, and, the type and writing integrated into the painting. I sat down and worked out a verse to go with this which I painted onto the image using powdered mica-based metallic gold mixed with alkyd medium. I don’t consider myself any kind of a writer, but, this painting just called out for something to add to tie the various elements together and the storyline painted into the image seemed to work for me.
These are the final two sketches, and, the finished drawing
Before starting to paint, I had to seal the panel first, with matte acrylic medium because after lightly sanding this panel, the ground appeared to be too thin for oil based paint which would eventually rot the panel if not adaquately sealed first. I sealed all sides, including the back of the panel with matte acrylic medium and resanded the edges and surface to smoothen it. It took me some time, about a week, to get to the point of actually putting paint on this panel, but, I am glad I took it slow instead of rushing into this with the first idea I came up with, as I think this is a much better painting for it. I reworked the drawing several times by enlarging it to 8.5x11 and using tracing paper to make corrections until I was happy with it. Now it was ready to transfer to the panel using the grid transfer method
I think this panel was my 3rd choice, but, I think I got lucky with this one despite not being my first choice. This panel has very little pattern in it to have to work with, which means, I can pretty much do what I like with it! When I was picking panels, I just tried to select some that would be workable for a variety of ideas, and, tried to stay away from any that were too wierd! LOL! When looking over the available panels to make my selections, I didn't spend time trying to 'see' things in them, then. I wanted to wait until I had one in hand first and then take the time to work something out on it! With this panel, it wasn't so much seeing something in the existing paintwork, like with those first six sketches I made, as just deciding on what I wanted to paint and then to make that work in this color scheme. The first thing I saw in this panel was the jockey and rearing horse, which I do like and think could have been good, but, I didn't want to settle on the first thing to come to mind without exploring more possibilities. I really had to force myself to stop and work out more ideas! I found that I had to work through the first batch of ideas (and a bunch of half ideas I haven't listed here) just to find a direction I really wanted to pursue with this project. I’m really glad I did this as I am much happier with the idea I finally decided on!
This is the painting at the end of the first full day of painting which included the transfer of the drawing to the panel.
The story behind this, or, what I was thinking about when I was working on this composition, was based on my discussions with other horse artists on the Equine Artists Guild forums when we were talking about how we each got into painting horses. As children, so many of us shared the same type fantasies, read the same books, played horses, even pretended to be horses, and. so on! It really impressed me how this love for horses could be so deep and consuming from a very early age for so many of us artists. I did all that, too, including getting in trouble in school for drawing horses all over my school work, and, my mother swears I grew hooves on my knees from playing horse so much as a child! As a girl I was completely fixated on horses...wanted one, of course, but dreamed of them, drew them all over books and school work, fantasized about riding them all the time, read about them, imagined being one, even! I loved the idea of horses and the freedom they represented to gallop away from troubles and at the same time have a caring confidant and friend, of being able to share in the horse's power and glory. Now, what really touches my heart, is when I see youngsters at one of my art shows who get so excited when they see my horse art! From tiny toddlers to teenagers, and, even adults who try to hide it behind their adult decorum, it can be seen in their eyes that they are horse-crazy!
Another day spent painting on the panel! I didn’t like the red I had painted the horses tack and the girls cape in, so, I just blocked out the red in the tack and cape with dk. violet. I will keep them dark, but, they will be ornately decorated. Worked the background to try and get it as nearly finished as possible, barring any last minute changes. A few spots in the background will need another layer of paint to cover the transparent spots such as the rainbow. I'm using Liquin Impasto to develop thicker texture and definate brushstrokes and that medium really transparentises the already semi-transparent pigments I'm using, so, there will be many spots in need of multiple layers of color
I reworked the horses head, changed the profile to a more extreme concave profile. It still needs work on the head structure at this point, but, it is closer to what I'm looking for as an idealized arabian. I also worked a little on the girls figure, but she is going to need a lot more work on her structure, too! These are suppose to be idealized, romantic fantasy figures...

A few more painting sessions later. I worked the right side trying to finish the pegasus, the girls face and I added a unicorn. I originally had the unicorn painted behind the arabians back legs, but, that didn’t look too good, so, I changed the unicorn to the forefront so it overlaps the arabians legs and tail, and, had to change the direction of the unicorn‘s horn...it looked like that unicorn horn was goosing the arabian...ha! So, now the unicorns horn extends to the cape and points to the P in the word Passion. I also extended the length of the girls hair.

I keep making changes on this every time I work on it, but, I do tend to work that way sometimes! I also changed the colors of the two mustangs in the lower left from black pinto and blue roan to buckskin pinto and grulla. The verse was painted in in metallic gold around the perimeter after the letters were blocked in using a white water-soluable color pencil. The white guide lines and lettering behind the gold painted letters were removed once the gold paint dried with a damp towel. After the gold paint dried, I went back around the lettering using dark violet to help define the letters so they showed up against the purple and pink background.

Final work on the panel included the detailing of the girl and the arabians attire, detailing the unicorns horn and lots of little touch-ups including removing the cactus from under the belly of the grulla mustang. To finish the panel, after it was fully dried, I varnished it with a removable satin finished, ultraviolet blocking varnish by Golden. This is a series of pictures showing some of the various changes that were part of this painting.

“Heart’s Passion” panel 168 WIP by