Friday, 22 September 2017

Better at Drawing than Driving!

The very handsome Harvey, who nearly didn't get the sneaky shots done to create his surprise portrait!

I had a tight window to be in the yard where Harvey lives, by 5pm, to photograph a couple of horses when they had come back from an event. I also had another horse to photograph in the same area, whose yard was also waiting on horses coming back from an event. 

It all started so well. 

I had the loan of a very smart, sporty Mercedes, I figured how to use the SatNav, I had enough fuel to get to where I was going, and off I set in plenty time. 😎

I was about 20 or so minutes into the journey, when I realised I'd forgotten to put the camera into the car. Also, that I didn't actually know how to get back to where I'd just left from. 😳
I knew my hosts were partying, so rather than phone them, I just looked for  'HOME' in the SatNav, set it, and off I went. 

In my defence, I was heading in the right direction, but when I pulled up in a car park I'd never set eyes on, I had to make that 'lost' phone call, and was given the right postcode, with much hilarity on the other end of the phone. Apparently, as the car owner knew where she lived, she hadn't bothered putting 'HOME' into the car when she'd got it, and I'd taken myself off to where the previous owner lived. 🙈

Back on track, camera in car, still on time, I get stuck in traffic on the M25, for ages. I'm phoning clients as the minutes are galloping past, then I look at the fuel gauge on emergency and break out in a cold sweat. It takes forever to get to the next junction, where I'm desperately hoping to find Services, and have to stop at a pub, get directions to a garage, then set back off on my way. 😅

This means I have to change the yards' timings about (I can't find the first yard anyway, I drove past it several times 😒), my second client meets me, and we set off to that yard, only to be unable to get in, because her SatNav took her to a gate that we didn't have a code for! So we circled it a couple of times, until we finally got in. 

As we were horribly late, the sneaky plan to calmly photograph Harvey on the quiet was blown, and I was grabbing random shots of him when the owners weren't looking, in between doing the horses that were all polished for me! (Thankfully, my next client was very understanding about the collapse of the day!)

Luckily, we didn't get found out, and the surprise portrait was handed over last weekend, so I can now post him. He has the most gorgeous eyes, and the frantic photographing had him a tad concerned as in the photo on the left, but with relief I got this shot on the right which had him focussed on food!


Phew! 😅

I framed him up in a dark wood veneer, as it allowed the colours in his coat to come through.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Story of Smog's portrait.

I photographed Smoggy a few years ago, not with a view to a portrait, but just so his little person, Rennie, could have some photos and not feel left out, whilst I photographed Pam's horse for the real deal of a portrait. Early this year, with the cruellest twist of fate, Smoggy was taken ill suddenly, and didn't survive. I was asked to do his portrait, for the family to have the complete set of all their horses together, and went to dig out the photos. I couldn't find them on my computer, memory cards, anywhere, and neither could Pam.

Thankfully, at a show the previous year, Adrian Sinclair had taken some lovely shots of him, and very kindly allowed me to work from them. 
I drew the portrait up, went to start it and realised I'd drawn it up on the wrong side of the paper, the coarse side which doesn't allow me to work in such detail, so I turned the paper over and began again. 

It's never as easy working from photos that I need to adapt, as what makes a great photo doesn't necessarily make a great portrait reference. I just keep making marks, and walking away and coming back, and trusting that it all comes together.
It's spooky sometimes, when I'm working, I become so involved that suddenly I feel the animal there, and that came through very strongly with Smog. I was so pleased with the finished piece, and sent the image for approval. 

Then the bombshell, Pam loved it, but had I forgotten I was supposed to have done it on a black background? My heart missed a beat, and I couldn't believe I'd been so careless. However, all was well, the neutral background met with approval from Rennie, and I could breathe again. With hindsight, I genuinely believe the feel of the piece wouldn't have worked on black. Smoggy at work? Who knows!

I took the work off the easel, and got another shock, as there he was, staring out at me in outline from the backing board I work on! I'd unwittingly transferred the original outline onto the board when I'd worked the other side of the paper! 

It made me smile, because I just loved the thought of Smoggy still making his mark. 

Then the final hurdle, the suppliers had discontinued the frame I'd used for the other three horses, so I gilded and distressed a similar frame, to try and make the four portraits flow when hung together, so after much experimentation, he was finally finished, as below. 

Such a beautiful pony, inside and out.