Tag Archives: coloured horse

Hot Cross Bunny and the psychology of colour

IMG_3425 Hot Cross Bunny

“Hot Cross Bunny”, single continuous line drawing painted in psychological colours. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

In my posts I have said a lot about colour sequence and, along the way, talked about selecting appropriate ranges of colours for my drawings.  Here are some more colour comments, leading to the one about the bunny above.

I might consider that a yellow, red and brown range would be good for my horse. These have a similarity to its actual colours and give a warm and friendly feel which reflect the horse’s nature and temperament.

Fig 1.  Copy of IMG_5869 Horse complete, furst sequ

Colour Sequence on Single Continuous Line Drawing of horse. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

A strong harsh colour seemed to be best for my roaring lion and simple black and white achieved this.  In the mid 1960’s when I drew the lion, Bridget Riley had been doing many black and white hard edge pictures, and I did several of my animals in this colouring.  I feel that this worked best for the lion amongst my drawings.

016. 1967-9. Lion. Alternate shading, black.

Lion, single continuous line drawing with alternate shading in black and white. Mick Burton, continuous line Artist.

With my “Flame on the Sun” painting, the sort of anti magnetism represented by complementary red and green hopefully reflect the explosive violence required.

Flame on the Sun. Spherical continuous line. Mick Burton, 1972

Flame on the Sun. Spherical single continuous line drawing, with complementary reds and greens expressing explosive violence.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

For a more subtle result – my still life of a radish, apple, mushroom and flower heads – I used water colours to help to show the floppy translucent nature of the radish leaves.


Radish, apple, mushroom and flower heads still life. Water colour used to show floppy, translucent nature of radish leaves. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Sometimes I find that I can use almost actual colours.  Here is a commission drawing, with the continuous line running through both robins and the branch.  I  was asked to do only a hint of pink on the Robins’ chests.  This is fine.  However, I had to have a go at a full colour result for myself.  The perky nature of robins is reflected pretty well, I think, by these “near” natural colours.

IMG_3417 (1) Best. Pair of Robins.

Pair of Robins, single continuous line drawing. Full near natural colour. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

My yellow, green and blue sequence of colours fits well for “Nibbles”, a friendly rabbit who likes nothing more than eating her greens.

IMG_3498 Nibbles

“Nibbles”, single continuous line drawing.  The rabbit has a suitable range of colours to reflect contentment just eating her greens. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

However, for a rabbit drawn with exactly the same single continuous line as for Nibbles, but who has a completely different temperament  –  RED, BLACK and WHITE fits the bill.

This is, of course, “Hot Cross Bunny” who lurks at the top of this post.  A real, full on, “Psycho”.

The two Rabbit paintings and the Pair of Robins accompanied several other of my pictures at the Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club exhibition a week ago at Ripley Town Hall.

At the Preview Evening various prizes are awarded.  One was the annual prize presented at the Spring Exhibition by Sir Thomas Ingleby, the club’s patron, for his own personal choice for the best picture on show.  This was won by Julie Buckley for her “Black Labrador”.  

Sir Thomas also mentioned other pictures which caught his eye.  He said that he liked all the paintings by Mick Burton, but never thought that he would ever consider buying one called “Hot Cross Bunny”.

Here is a bit of background to the Rabbit paintings.  Nibbles and Hot Cross Bunny are based upon my daughter Kate’s rabbits, Harriet and Clover.

Harriet was friendly and cuddly and Clover might have been better named “Cleaver”.  We kept them both in the garage – in separate cages.

When we bought Clover, a lop eared rabbit, the breeder was saying how friendly and harmless the baby rabbit was.  I asked if it was related to an adult lop eared which had just tried to bite my finger off and the answer was “Yes, it’s the granny”.  We still bought Clover!

She was alright at first but later became very aggressive.  Every time we opened her cage for any reason, she would bite viciously.  We also realised that some one else would have to take care of the rabbits when we were on holiday.

Strangely, I found that if I put a hand on Clover’s head as soon as I opened the door she would stay still and relaxed as long as I kept the hand there.  With the other hand I could top up food and water or clean out the cage.  This worked for all of us.  Fortunately, our neighbour was delighted to be able to do this too and things were fine when we were away.

After Clover died and I had buried her in the garden, Kate prepared a wooden plaque and nailed it to the fence “Here lies Clover Burton the rabbit”.

An interesting consequence of keeping the rabbits was that straw from the bale became piled on the floor of the garage.  One day the straw was seen to be moving and we feared that we had rats and so I was deputed to check it out.  I found a nest of baby hedgehogs.






Kaleidoscopic Wild Horses, continuous line drawing with colour sequence.

Wild Horses, June 2017

Kaleidoscopic Wild Horses. Single Continuous Line Drawing with colour sequence in acrylic on canvas.  I happened to have a canvas 36″ x 10″ previously intended for an upright picture idea.  Mick Burton continuous line artist 2017.

This painting originated from a continuous line drawing which I produced for a demonstration at Stainbeck Arts Club, Chapel Allerton in Leeds in May 2017.  

IMG_0883 -Horses line.

Wild Horses,  single continuous line drawing. Demonstration at Stainbeck Arts Club. Mick Burton, continuous line artist 2017.

When I was thinking about a subject for the demonstration I saw an advert on the TV for the Cheltenham Festival which just showed loads of horses running – why there were no riders or jumps I do not know.  This also reminded me of one of my favourite paintings – “Scotland Forever” by Lady Butler in Leeds Art Gallery, painted in 1881.  A bit like “Charge of the Light Brigade” but straight at you, with the horses wild eyed and seeming to leap out of the painting.

See it at   http://www.leedsartgallery.co.uk/gallery/listings/l0081.php

Lady Butler painted a lot of war scenes and of course she had no military experience.  She was, however, married to a General and she persuaded him to let her watch manoeuvres.  In preparation for this picture she asked that the cavalry ride straight towards her so that she could get the feel for facing a charge.

When I had finished the demonstration, which was a result considerably rougher than the above, the members asked about colours.  I had not intended to talk much about colours, as I thought that my approach to drawing the lines would be enough at this session, but we had a solid half hour talking about my method and ideas about colour.  They said that they looked forward to seeing the image in full colour, so here it is.

My original intention was to do a black and white alternate shading version only, and this is shown below.  The tweaking which I did on the horses heads to achieve a better result in black and white was essential both to improve the continuous line and later to enhance the colouring.

IMG_0888 - Horses black & white

Wild Horses, single continuous line drawing with black and white alternate shading.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist 2017

Initially I did my normal approach to colour sequence, where I devised a 6 colour range (white, lemon, golden yellow, orange, vermilion red and crimson alizarin) to fit my alternate overdraw template for this image.  

This resulted in gold and vermilion appearing on all outer areas and I thought that I needed a darker effect in the lower half of the image.  So I substituted cobalt blue for gold along the bottom legs of the horses and finished up also substituting, on an ad hoc basis, some dark blue, violet and green to try and naturally leach colour balance upwards to meet existing vermilion and gold.

A fellow artist who likes my alternate overdraw and colour sequence method has told me that I should always apply it fully to get the natural result.  Generally I would agree, but thought that I needed to break some rules on this occasion.  I try and mirror nature in my art and of course nature evolves by breaking a few rules. 

Joan and I visited my Aunty Ann a couple of weeks ago.  She is 99 years old and still as bright as a bobbin.  She is a good artist and only gave up painting relatively recently, and always wants to see my latest stuff.  i took the Wild Horses along.  It took up the length of the settee and she was delighted with the colours.  I then realised that the painting’s reflection in the shiny metal fire surround made the composition even more abstract.

Aunty Ann’s shiny metal fire surround reflecting Wild Horses. Mick Burton, continuous line artist, 2017.

Two different Reflections of Wild Horses on metal fireplace surround, detail strips. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Colour Sequence on Continuous Line Drawing

Fig 1.  Completed Colour Sequence on Continuous Line Drawing of horse.  Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

Fig 1. Completed Colour Sequence on Single Continuous Line Drawing of horse. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

How do I apply Colour Sequence to my Continuous Line Drawings, which I first developed in the late 1960,s ?  In my last blog post, about Alternate Overdraw of My Continuous Lines, I pointed out that Colour Sequence was the next stage and so here we go.  I will now show the stages involved in completing the colouring of this Horse.

Other Alternate Overdraw on Continuous Line of horse.

Fig 2. Alternate Overdraw on Single Continuous Line Drawing of the Horse, as the first stage of Colour Sequence. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

From the two Alternate Overdraw examples in the previous post, I have chosen Fig 2 commencing at point “X” for this example (either “A” or “X” would result in the same colour sequence).

We are going to number all areas of the drawing, commencing with the background which will be numbered “0”.  In this example the background will remain uncoloured but “0” will also occur within the drawing and have a colour. 

Fig 3.  Initial numbering (0 and 1) of channels between Alternate Overdraws on the Continuous Line Horse.

Fig 3. Initial numbering (0 and 1) of channels between Alternate Overdraws on the Continuous Line Horse.

You will notice that between all the closed lines, formed by the Alternate Overdraws, there are channels of areas.  These can be completely numbered alternately by only two numbers, which in this case are 0 and 1.  So, starting with 0 on the background, work through all these linked channels, see Fig 3.  This also sets the direction of the number sequence throughout the drawing.


Fig 4.  Colour Sequence numbers 2 and 3 on the Continuous Line Horse.

Fig 4. Colour Sequence numbers 2 and 3 on the Continuous Line Horse.



The numbering progresses both upwards through positive numbers and downwards through negative numbers.  We will start with the positive direction and allocate the next pair of numbers, 2 and 3.  By moving from an 0 area into a 1 area, and on through its Alternate Overdraw border, we will enter an un-allocated area we can mark 2.  Now deal with all the other areas in this new channel, marking alternate areas 3 and 2, to complete this allocation.  After this we need to check for any further Alternate Overdraw channel, or channels, at this level adjacent to 1 areas and then allocate 2 and 3 to them also, see Fig 4.

We then need to check for any further Alternate Overdraw channels enclosed within any of the 2 and 3 channels.  If we found one we would allocate 4 and 5 to the new channel or channels.  In this case there is no higher level channel. 

Fig 5.  Colour Sequence numbers (-)1 and (-)2 on the Continuous Line Horse.   Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

Fig 5. Colour Sequence numbers (-)1 and (-)2 on the Single Continuous Line Horse. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

Having  completed the numbering of areas in the positive direction, we now go into the negative in Fig 5.  By looking at an area 1 and moving through a 0 area with an Alternate Overdraw border we can cross through that into a (-)1 and (-)2 channel.  Mark the initial one (-)1 and then allocate alternately through the channel with (-)2 and (-)1.  After completing that channel, look for other un-allocated channels adjacent to 0 areas and allocate (-)1 and (-)2 to them.  Now look for further channels in the negative direction enclosed within a (-)1 and (-)2 channel.  There is one such, a single area (enclosed by its own Overdraw) in the front leg of the horse, which I have left blank in Fig 5 , which will be (-)3.

Fig 6.  Colour Sequence colour chart for Continuous Line Horse.  Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.
Fig 6. Colour Sequence colour chart for Continuous Line Horse. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

I was inspired by Rainbows in deciding on the sort of Colour Sequences I wanted to use for my Continuous Lines.  For shorter sequences, I settled for “partial rainbows” involving two prime colours only with a progression of colour mix and tones from light to dark.  For the Elephant I used yellows, greens and blues and for the Horse it was yellows, orange, red and browns in Fig 6.

I have carefully selected colours which have a stepped progression, both in colour and tone, and where possible I apply them from the tube (poster colour in the late 1960’s or acrylic now) to achieve an even and solid result.  I avoid mixing if I can, to retain the pure consistency of colour application across the painting, but sometimes it is necessary.


Fig 7.  Black and white photocopy of Colour Chart for Continuous Line Horse.
Fig 7. Black and white photocopy of Colour Chart for Continuous Line Horse.


To assess the accuracy of the progression steps of my Colour Sequence chart, I do a black and white (or grayscale) photocopy of my chart to check that the steps still work in monochrome, see Fig 7.

Having produced the Colour Sequence chart, we need to decide the direction of the colours matched to the numbers, ie. Light to dark in an upward or a downward direction.  Generally I see whether a scale would mostly coincide with where a natural highlight would be, or have more darks towards the lower parts in a drawing to infer shadow.  Usually it is fairly obvious, but you can always start again with the other direction of colours.  Note that my style may take advantage of natural hints of highlight or shadow on a subject, but generally these aspects (along with perspective) are absent.

I remember that when doing equations at school, which produced two answers (+ or (-) ), was a puzzle to me which no one could explain.  I understand the concept of a practical outcome from having two answers a bit better now.

Fig 8.  Initial Colour Sequence pair of colours on Continuous Line Horse.   Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

Fig 8. Initial Colour Sequence pair of colours on Continuous Line Horse. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

Once we have decided on the colour match with the numbers, the initial two colours can be painted in, ie.  Vermillion = 0 and Orange = 1, see Fig 8.





Fig 9.  Second Colour Sequence pair of colours on Continuous Line Horse.
Fig 9. Second Colour Sequence pair of colours on Continuous Line Horse.


We can then match numbers 2 and 3 in areas to the colours required in the next channels up, or simply apply Golden Yellow to areas across the overdraw from Orange and then its alternate colour Permanent Yellow, in Fig 9.





Fig 10.  Third Colour Sequence pair of colours, in the negative direction, on the Continuous Line Horse.   Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

Fig 10. Third Colour Sequence pair of colours, in the negative direction, on the Single Continuous Line  Drawing of Horse. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

Now we can match numbers (-)1 and (-)2 in the negative direction, or simply apply Light Brown to areas across the Overdraws from Vermillion.  When these Light Brown and Burnt Sienna channels have been completed the last channel colour is (-)3 which is Burnt Umber.  In Fig 10 I have left this final area blank  (on the front left leg of the Horse).

So you have seen my Colour Sequence method, using Alternate Overdraw, for Continuous Line Drawings.  Sorry if it has been a long explanation (particularly if you grasped it quickly or had already come across parts of it), but I have tried to pitch it as helpfully as I can, based on my demonstration sessions.    

A couple a years after I started Colour Sequence I came across the Winding Number Theory.  There is a connection and I did pick up one or two ideas from it.  I will talk about this in a later post, but as always I am not a trained mathematician and so I will keep talking in pictures. 

 I hope that you will give it a try and I am sure you will enjoy the ride, as I have for so long.

If you display or publish your results, it would be great if you could specifically acknowledge me and my ideas.