Because I have been doing a lot this first part of the year.  I have said it before, but dog portraits make up the majority of my commissions and I love dogs. I am owned by two! They are my favourite animal, but from an artists perspective I absolutely love my horse commissions. Horses have been a subject of fascination for artists for hundreds of years. I am sure everyone knows of George Stubbs Whistlejacket. I think that has to be one of the most well know horse paintings ever.

Most of mine tend to be head and shoulders paintings and so are the ones I have been working on this year.

My first horse commission this year was of a beautiful chesnut horse called Fergie. My client loved the portrait I had done of  Kauto Star and she wanted something similar painted of her daughters horse. It is always an honour to paint handsome horses and Fergie didn’t disappoint.

I had a few reference photos to work from, but we settled on one to base the portrait on. The only thing my client wanted adjusting was his forelock. No problem as I had other photographs to help with that. We decided to blend his neck out into the background and we chose a dark background to make Fergie stand out.

Chesnut horse portrait in pastels
Khan and Darwin

Next up were this handsome duo. I met them last year for their photoshoot. I had previously painted my clients dogs so it was lovely to hear from her again to paint her horses.

The photoshoot turned out to be fun as I had my son with me due to a bug he had picked up a few days earlier. Both horses refused to play ball for a long time despite Leo waving carrier bags and my clients friend banging the food bucket! 

I took in the region of 1000 photos and after a while I felt fairly confident that I should have something to work from as we had been a good 3 hours photographing!

To my relief when I got home there were more images to work from than I had realised. I produced a few mock ups for my client and she settled on this one

double horse portrait mock up

I did change the background colour slightly in the painting at my clients request as we selected a yellow gold frame for the portrait and felt the background would compliment it better with more yellow ochre in it.

Double horse portrait in pastels with a yellow and cream background

I am really delighted with how this double horse portrait turned out and the likeness I acheived. You can view more in my horse portrait gallery

Also please take the time to pop over to my facebook page where you can see some videos of Khan and Darwin coming to life.


Beautiful Bella was the next horse commission. A beautiful black horse. My client came to me after being recommended by a friend of hers. I was delighted by this as it always the biggest compliment. I thoroughtly enjoyed painting Bella’s portrait and it has been a while since I have painted a black horse. I did have a piebald a while back, Pugsley and dark bays, but not a black one. I decided for Bella to have a plain background and I settled on a warm pale blue. It compliments her perfectly and both myself and my client where delighted with the outcome.

Bella, horse pet portrait in pastels
Coloured Pencil Horse Portrait

This particular piece is practice for my coloured pencil pet portraits. I want to broaden my skills as an artist and I have for many years admired the skill and talent I see artists have with coloured pencils. I started my venture early in the New Year and you can read about it here. 

I am still learning, but my confidence is growing, having completed my first two commissions in coloured pencil and starting my third.  Inbetween time I like to suppliment these with practice pieces such as this gorgeous chesnut horse.

Reference photo for horse portrait

I have started doing live streams and this may or may not help this is one I have practiced on my facebook this afternoon. I have to apologise in advance for my wifi. It’s dodgy and I am trying to rectify that, it does lose connection once or twice but hopefully it’s not too bad and you can follow some tips and advice. I am working on improving my set up as soon as possible, but I am limited at the moemnt due to closures and lockdown.

I haven’t had an awful lot of time to take much of a look at this gorgeous horse portrait in coloured pencil, it’s been dog portraits, dog portraits and more dog portraits. I did however finally get a good stretch yesterday and the day before, I needed to recharge and have a little bit of me time! It was so well deserved and thoroughly enjoyed. I feel like I am learning a lot from this piece.

Originally I was going to have just the grey pastelmat for the background until I marked the paper irreversibly! So I decided to change it to a black background, which I have used panpastels for.

I have used a mix of coloured pencils, from polychromos to pablos to derwent and I have discovered to my utmost satisfaction I can get a really black, black with the Derwent drawing pencil I found tucked away in one of my pencil tins. Needless to say I have added another to my collection!

Please feel free to watch the little live stream I did over on facebook I did on Sunday here.

I have attached some progress photos of the horse portrait. 

The first one shows the grey pastelmat backgroind i had in mind for his portrait 

The black lanpastel has been added as i mentioned earlier to hide the fact i am a messy worker. I must reassure you, wjen it comez fo my oet portraits I woild have been a much more careful. Howver i think i haf been toying with a black background anuway as per the reference photo. 

I am sorry the photos are coming out in the wrong order. I will correct that on my laptop later. 

I like the black background and i really think it makes the horse pop , so I think it was a happy mistake. It is a bit blotchy, but i ma getting used to the best way to apply it and I think it will need a couole more layerz to smooth it out. I started off woth the kittle sponge applicatir and moved over to a bigger sponge. I have heard that makenup brushes are good for applying panpastels so I am going to invest in some and let you knkw how they go. It’s great fun to learn as I go and try oit lots of different ideas. 


In fact this whole horse portraitot is a learning proves as i am really lening about layering and the colours i want for certain colours now. With  pastel  pet portraits it is almost second nature, but with e coloured pencils it is very different from the colours I use to the order I apply them