Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Following Intuition

After years of painting and studying art, an accomplished artist should have some sense of intuition. She should know what kind of composition she wants at the start of the project, what color harmonies will work best, and what emotion she wants to convey to--or invite from--the viewer. My latest painting is an example of intuition winning over reason...

I began "Katie and Bogota" at the end of September, after having a wonderful late-afternoon photo session with the two. Katie is an award-winning dressage rider, and Bogota is her beautiful Oldenburg mare. I would have loved to start the painting from life, but when working with animals, I'm usually forced to use photographic reference. After taking over 400 photographs, I took my camera back to my studio and began to narrow down the choices. I used Photoshop to splice images together. For example, Bogota tended to have her ears down in many of the photos, so I was able to swap out her "unhappy" ears for perkier ones in some of the pictures. I eventually narrowed the potential poses down to four or five. Unfortunately, at the start oKatie and Bogota - Original Posef the project, I was using reason instead of creative thinking. I prepared a very large canvas, 48" x 30", with high-quality stretcher bars and fine-textured portrait linen. The original pose that I chose was full-length, because I thought a formal pose might be dynamic and more impressive, as she was wearing her formal riding gear and boots. However, halfway through, I decided I hated it and made a radical decision to go back to the pose I originally liked - a three-quarter length pose of Katie hugging her horse's head. It's much more emotional and draws the viewer into an intimate moment between horse and rider. I painted over the entire canvas, with the exception of some of the trees in the background. Ah...intuition. If I had only followed my gut instinct from the very beginning, I would have saved myself hours of work!

While on this topic, I might add that we artists need to set goals at the very start of the project as far as what we want to accomplish or what message we want the final product to convey. As a Katie and Bogota - beginning to paint over original posecommissioned portrait artist, this "goal" is often given to me by the client, making my job easier in some respects. However, when the artistic license is fully mine, I find that doing a simple gesture drawing at the very start, one for each possible pose, can help. I'll just step back and compare them and decide which one causes me to react the best.

Now, the painting is completely transformed (though you can see some of the painful stages it went through!). I'm extremely happy with the finished portrait of Katie and Bogota - in some respects, the layers of extra paint now hidden beneath the final painting add a great quality and texture to it. There are very thick applications of white and blue, especially in the background and parts of Katie's hair, while detailed areas such as the face and hands are painted with thin glazes and delicate brush strokes. I believe I've captured my focal point in this painting: Katie's expressive face and hands tell all about the emotional connection between horse and rider.

Katie and Bogota, by Anna Rose Bain



  1. I actually like both of the paintings...maybe even the first one a bit more! :-P Regardless, you do a great job on all your work Anna. Oh...the photography teacher here at my school saw some of your pics on facebook of all the snow in WI, and she really liked them. I then got the chance to show her your website and all your other paintings on there, which she liked also. Hope you're staying somewhat warm!
    Love ya,
    Becky :)

  2. Thanks, Becky! Word of mouth is an artist's best friend. :-)
    I liked the first pose, too (especially the horse), but if I was going to keep it, the size should have been either much larger or much smaller than what I had, because for some reason, Katie looked like a small child on the 48x30!
    Hope you and Robbie and doing well. It was great to hear from you over Christmas. :-)

  3. I admire your work. I will keep on coming here to read new articles. Thanks for posting.INTUITION


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