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30 horse paintings in 30 days

As April drew to a close I felt a sense of remorse that my challenge of 30 horse paintings in 30 days was coming to an end which surprised me as I had predicted that I would have been tired and ready to move on, to the contrary I felt I could have easily kept going.

Many have asked me to evaluate my feelings through the month and for the reasons to begin the challenge in the first place, so here they are.

My initial reason was to get more acquainted with the new brand of non solvent paints I’m now using called M Graham oils, after using Winsor & Newton for 18 years. The M Graham’s are not water soluble but walnut oil based and clean up is also with the walnut oil.

The colours were just different enough from the Winsor & Newton to cause me a few problems and needed to be relearnt. One issue that presented itself was the Alizarin in the M Graham’s not being permanent and the substitute of Anthraquinone Red or other reds caused me to struggle with certain mixes. I solved this by trying Gamblin’s Alizarin Permanent, also a non solvent brand, which helped enormously.

The discipline and challenge of a daily painting meant that I entered the studio each day with a mission to be completed in a certain time frame, so organisation was key.

Preparation was vital to keep on track with every day occurrences pulling in all directions. I had prepared a folder of my references and had more than 60 to choose from so that I had plenty of choice. Each week was colour coded to keep the thirty in order even though I did change my mind a few times but mostly I stuck to my plan.

During a search through my photos a few months beforehand, I realised I had so many wonderful references of horses that if I was a bit creative with cropping, I could use many of them that I might have previously discounted as unexciting. It was a way of sharing some of these beautiful images instead of them being hidden on the computer.

All my supports were ready to go with a few extra on standby including a choice of sizes. My original plan was to do all 6” x 8”’s but some images weren’t going to work easily at that size so there were a few larger ones. I also had a mix of gessoed boards, canvas and linen for variety.

The month did not cruise by without a couple of mishaps. The first hiccup was the brass bolt that holds the top slider bar of my easel stopped gripping and kept falling out. I’ve fixed it temporarily but will have to replace soon. The second issue was a sharp repetitive strain injury type of pain in my right shoulder. I had to change to a smaller palette and move it to lessen arm movement. Oh the joys of ageing!

As I work in the two disciplines of drawing and painting, another reason for the daily painting was to experiment and loosen up with my brush strokes as my nature is to add detail and fiddle too much when I’m painting. To this end, I was disappointed that I didn’t seem to free up more but I did find that with the time constraint I tended not to overthink or overwork the paintings which was a positive.

Although I hit a flat spot at the 10 day mark, the rest of the month was easy and by completing one small painting every day, it actually kept me fresh and the result of adding another finished piece to the shelf daily gave me a real sense of being productive which was an unexpected bonus. It was also a very different perspective on painting rather than working on one large piece for days or weeks, it was nice to work on a smaller scale. The whole experience was quite uplifting.

Here are the finished 30 paintings, minus one that had sold.

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