Horse Portraits by Brianna's Art and Gallery
How to paint a horse portrait in oils:
First:  Decide on photo and size of canvas.  
Prepare canvas with acrylic paint or tinted
gesso.   I decided on light blue acrylic because
my background would be a landscape with
bright blue skies.

Second:  Transfer the photo (either enlarged
copy or designed painting on drawing paper) to
the canvas.

Third: Base in your painting with background

I used cerulean and cobalt blue for the sky
leaving lighter areas for the clouds; raw umber,
burnt umber, burnt sienna, and ivory black for
the horse's head; and sap green to base in the
background grass.
Canvas size:  16" by 20"

(See the
"base in" photos below)
Original Horse
Photograph by
Brianna painting one of her many
horse photos.
All photos and paintings copyrighted by Brianna's Art and Gallery
Basing in the painting:

"Basing in" means that the canvas is quickly
covered  (usually in first sitting).

Then, with each sitting, the colors build up in
thickness and value to give the final painting
a three-dimensional effect.

My favorite oil medium (to move the paint) is
Winsor and Newton's Liquin Original.  
For cleaning brushes, I always use an
orderless turpentine.
I always keep my photo handy for
The painting on the right is completely
based in.  
Let the colors dry (about three days)
before beginning the detail.   When basing
in a  painting,  keep in mind the shadows
and lights, but with only a hint of the
finished detail.
At this point, my colors are thin
and almost transparent.
Note:  If preferred, the clouds can be
painted in while the sky is still wet.
Finished Portrait
(for comparison)
This photo was taken at:
Old Friends- A Facility for Retired Thoroughbreds

This farm is for retired race horses.
One of my next projects will be
created from a photo taken at
Darkey Farms-America
When adding the clouds,
I used yellow ochre in the
then added shadows mixed
from cerulean blue, alizarin
crimson, yellow ochre, and
ivory black.

If you look closely at
in the sky, you will observe
the shadows in soft violet
A magnifying glass
is helpful
for  observing
fine details.
With each painting session,
the portrait
becomes more alive.
want my paintings to almost
The painting should have more life
than the photograph.
The fence and grass start with
dark, then the sunlit highlights
are added and blended.

The portrait's shadows are not
as dark as in the photograph
because photographs tend to
have darker shadows than real
Almost done!

However, the portrait must be
studied carefully from close up
far away.

Any changes can be made.

The completed portrait
is painted with a
fine coat of Liquin
for a finished look.

Changes can still be made, but
must be coated with Liquin so
the changes will blend in.