I originally thought the title would be, “For a Good Time, Call Ed.” This is a reference to common graffiti found on a public bathroom wall. For equestrians, the title is a double entendre meaning “no hoof, no horse.” Ed is a master farrier. I rely on him to not only keep my horse sound, but to maximize my horse’s movement. He helps me to understand the structure of the foot, how the approach he will use translates to my horse’s comfort and way of travel, and how to solve the occasional problem that arises in the pasture or in training. A farrier can make all the difference between an enjoyable ride and a disaster. In fact, I found Ed as a result of a disaster from a previous “hoof expert.”)
It is interesting the comments I received while this painting was a work in progress. It ran the gamut from “leave the smoke out; the composition is strong without it,” all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum, “approach it as an abstract painting, make the subject the smoke.” My vision was to include all the drama of the hot shoe touching the prepared hoof, while still retaining a realistic narrative. That is the approach I followed.
I was eager to return to this work after the painting dried. This morning I worked on legs- the horse’s weight bearing foot; the farrier’s chaps and initial wash for his boot. Treatment for the chaps was approached in a different manner than the very modeled and harder-edged shirt. The leather in the chaps still had shadows and highlights, but the surface of the leather is softer, requiring a wet-into-wet approach. Lifting the highlights while the paint was still wet also added to a softer edge. I found I needed all 6 pigments to complete these pieces of the painting- dominant pigments: raw sienna- lower chaps; burnt sienna & ultramarine blue- upper chaps & hoof tool; burnt sienna- hoof.
Next steps: finish the boot and paint the jeans, then pull the painting together with final touches.
Sometimes the paintings we see in our mind’s eye take a bit of incubation before they appear on paper. Two years ago I became inspired to paint my farrier doing “hot shoe” work. In this work, new shoes are shaped to the horse’s individual feet with a forge. We set a time for me to photograph him working; I took many reference photos. Much later, I sat down to make a study for the painting. I used a variety of media for this study, including graphite pencil, colored pencil, and charcoal. The finished drawing suggested a pastel painting, but I knew I wanted this to be a watercolor with lost and found edges.
I thought I would work on it last fall or into the winter. Instead, I studied the effects of winter storms. We had quite a bit of snow this past winter, so I observed how the atmosphere creates lost and found edges. I went out to paint some storms safely ensconced in my car. Most recently, I began the painting process. In the drawing, there is no smoke or lost edges. I felt for a study, I needed to learn how the edges articulated and the shapes joined. I did like the idea of using primary colors as my color scheme. For the painting, I decided to use the following pigments- 2 neutrals- (one leaning toward yellow and the other leaning toward red), raw sienna and burnt sienna; 2 blues- cobalt blue and ultramarine blue; 2 reds- permanent rose madder and permanent alizarine crimson. This is a rather traditional palette, and for this painting these six pigments worked quite well.
After transferring my drawing to a half sheet of Arches 140 pound cold press paper and stretching it on my watercolor board, I set out to create the background- the elusive smoke and the atmospheric effects that smoke would create. I relied strongly on my winter studies of storms, mists, and fog.
The initial wash was laid down with cobalt blue, burnt & raw sienna, (and rose madder for the sleeve.) When the wash dried, I felt the edges were too defined, so I lifted quite a bit of the initial wash to better express the smokey environment when the hot shoe is tested to the horse’s hoof. (See next photo.) Now, with no strong edges, my mind was having a hard time organizing the shapes and seeing how the final result should progress. I needed to create some hard edges, value range, and definition. I did this by painting the head and the hand.
Later, I added the first wash on the red shirt in rose madder. Now the drama of the farrier placing the hot shoe on the horse’s hoof is beginning to emerge to become the centerpiece of the painting.
With the initial red wash dry, I used alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue to define the shirt. The top peaks of the fabric folds were lifted to create highlights. (It’s interesting how that word perfectly defines what an artist does.) While still wet, I added more rose madder to saturate the red at the point just before the fabric moves into shadow.
Please stay tuned to see how this painting progresses………and hit the FOLLOW button to read more about Cheri Isgreen Fine Art.