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.
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.
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.
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.