The horse handlers

horse handler near Los Olivos, by frankeber 2012 horse handler, detail, by frankeber 2012

When painting near Los Olivos, we came upon this horse farm tucked in a hidden valley far off the beaten path. I was so psyched to paint there, I just drove right in. My painting buddy went ‘you sure you want to just go on their property?’ Of course, you can’t do that so we asked if we could paint near the horses. Unfortunately, the owners were nowhere to be found and the horse handlers felt they couldn’t make that decision.
Plus, there was a bit of a language barrier, because the modern day cowboy is, not surprisingly, a Mexican man! The only person who spoke perfect English was someone’s 15 year old kid who helped out!

Horse farms are definitely a subject matter that I want to explore more. I did this piece from a value study of the horse shoe barn (if that’s what they call it) and a plethora of pictures.

Notice how there is a unifying color to the work. In reality, the sky was a solid ‘Walt Disney blue’ and there were patches of super green, artificially looking English meadow here and there. However, I went with the colors of California hillsides which are a wonderful golden hue that is very unique to our area.
I think it’s important to remember not to copy the place as it is, but paint it in ways that makes for a good painting. Even outside, it’s all too tempting to copy what’s there and end up with an area of bright blue, and a squeaky green foreground with little or no color harmony. That’s not to say that color is bad, but just like everything else in a good painting, it should play a supportive role and not create sections of different colors, completely unrelated. Cartoons look like that!
For my color mixes, I use quite a bit of cadmiums (or the new equivalent of cadmiums, without the toxins). Cadmiums (yellow pale, med yellow, orange and red) are very strong, but when mixed with earthtones will give the punch that is necessary to make a statement. I try to avoid painting too wishy-washy.

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2 thoughts on “The horse handlers

  1. Carol King

    Another beautiful painting with some of your knowledge and wisdom thrown in for good measure. I always enjoy reading your posts as much as looking at your paintings. You always make me think about the painting and how each area should relate to another area in the painting.

    1. frankeber Post author

      thanks so much for your visit, Carol! Just a few words here and there, mostly wisdom acquired through years of painting and many failed attempts…that’s how it is with watercolor. Hope you’re doing well!

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