A blog from the painting studio of E J Lazenby BA(hons), QTFE(2), ASEA

Posts tagged “equestrian art

Photoshop shows the way

photo (307)

Completed painting

I’m learning Photoshop skills, very slowly! I had a wonderful book for a Christmas gift from my brother and this resulted in a lightbulb moment…..
I had got ‘stuck’ with a painting – I knew it wasn’t right, but what I didn’t know is where to take it next and how to complete it.. I knew that the background was wrong, that the lighting seemed uneven… all in all I just was not happy




My start point was  a background that had already been repainted four times.. I exmerimented with the image in pgotoshop and found the right colour… then it was simply just a job of painting in the right colour and adjustingv the lighting….. Finally completed!


My second experiment I took my original reference photograph and worked it in Photoshop with a number of other layers. I created the image exactly how I wanted to paint it, then ran to the studio to get cracking… As I worked, the painting and my ideas evolved as I changed the shadows and added silver leaf….

The below images show this process….

Arabian stallion, Southern France, 2012

Arabian stallion, Southern France, 2012


Photoshop image

Photoshop image


on route....

on route….


Completed painting, 18 x 24"'Full Moon'

Completed painting, 18 x 24″
‘Full Moon’



Now I can almost use Photoshop, I’m not intending to bypass my sketchbook every time, it was just that the computer manipulation gave me the chance to be brave at the click of a button!

Thanks for joining me!

Jane x

The horse as the artist’s muse…..

January 2013

January 2013

I’ve been delighted to be invited to deliver a talk on the horse in art, or more specifically, the horse as the artist’s muse…..


It’s a fact that I’m happily obsessed with painting horses, my intention is to examine how and why this magnificent animal has featured heavily throughout art of the different ages:

from cave paintings,

The age of Chivalry (knights in armour),

The Renaissance (classically trained and complementing their humans),

The Baroque period (the power of the horse = the power of the rider, full of drama)

The Age Of Enlightenment (the entire focus was the horse – George Stubbs)

The Romantic period (the horse as a wild and untamed spirit)

Move towards modernisation (horses move into leisure bracket – advent of photography)

The horse and modern art (artists own personal interpretations)


The journey that these equines have taken throughout the history of art is inspiring in it’s very self!

I’m due to speak at The Cooper Gallery in January on Saturday the 26th… please see the below link for further information and contacts for ticket sales….



I will keep you up to date on my progress towards doing this immense subject justice!




Thank you for joining me, and a Happy and creative New Year to all!

Jane x


A day for colour (when I should have been doing something else!)

Well, you know how it is, you have to do something which is quite difficult, so you procrastinate……. manyana………

I’ve a lovely, but extremely difficult painting drawn out on the easel… I looked at it for almost an hour before deciding I needed to get myself in the mood…… you know, avoidance tactics…. The time when even cleaning the loo and putting out the bins seems appealing…..

The little pic I decided to do was all about colour, well not JUST colour, but my favourite colour combination of orange and blue…. yup, I LOVE THEM!

I took a few progress shots on my mobile as I worked, just about three hours later she was complete……

Start point- get rid of the white canvas

My first intentions are to get the staring white of the canvas blocked out… The Atelier paint goes on very dry when I use an imprimatura base, or to you and me, a background layer….

Blocked in

Now I’m ready to draw in my subject with a sharp white pencil, I don’t want to create a dark edge around the horse, just a faint indication of where the main structure and tonal changes are…

Drawn out and blocking in colour

The next bit happens very quickly for me, I rapidly place in the main colours, knowing that I can return and refine the details once this paint layer is dry…

Starting to adjust the colour and detail

Once these paint layers are dry, I start to try and increase the effect of the light; brighten the highlights, crisp up the tonal edges and add some detail…….

Just about done

I’m not wanting to place in too much detail, it’s a small piece and I quite like the looseness of the brushmarks…

The lack of detail….

So she’s now completed…… I’m now all warmed up and motivated to get on with the more difficult one on the easel… It’s after 3pm, so it’s WORKTIME!

Before I sign off, I’ll just share a few more images of my growing obsession with blue/purple and orange/yellow…….

Turning Tide

Fille du Joie

Life room painting

Highland Cattle II



I think I am going to have to allow this colour obsession to slowly work itself out….. I wonder which colour combination will become my next favourite???

Thanks for popping in!

Jane x



Please note the artist copyright on all images; no downloading or usage without prior permission… Thank you…..

Whats all this about ‘glazing medium’ ?

A number of people have asked me to explain how glazing medium works…. Now, I’m no expert! I was only introduced to this new technique by the artist David Mc Ewan, in France, this August….

So I will try my best to explain how I used it within my work, with the aid of a number of ‘work in progress’ shots taken in the studio ‘En France’……  (yup, I’m showing off!)

Well, this bottle of innocent white stuff is ‘the magic liquid’, as I soon began to call it! It is white and gloopy, resembling PVA glue, dries clear, and is used in conjunction with a small amount of pigment that becomes ‘suspended ‘in the body of the liquid. It dries clear, and a little glossy…… It’s so much easier to explain a process using pictures rather than words, so here goes………

Stage 1

STAGE 1 – The horse’s mane is painted in rather starkly; big tonal contrasts and I am basically drawing in the structure with a fine paint brush. I’m wanting the mane to fade away into darkness, so the glazing medium will allow me not only to add layers of transparent colour, allowing the understructure to remain visible, it will also allow me to add shadow, and through repeated layer, allow the main to fade into darkness….

Well, that’s the plan!

Stage 2

STAGE 2– More and more purples, blues, burgundy and dark brown is added in thin layers, it only took a few minutes for each to dry (partly because it was 30 degrees plus in the studio!)

The mane rapidly gains a more solid colour….

Stage 4

STAGE 3– I then start to add shadow colour (ultramarine blue plus burnt umber), again, it’s a steady process and can’t really be rushed…..

The mane tips are glazed over maybe 15 times and they start to become softer and softer, I also glaze the same colour mix into my background so that there is no change within the colour palette, I want the mane to smoothly darken with no perceptible edge… as I look into the areas of the painting where the mane was, a subtle glimpse of mane detail is still visible…..

STAGE 4- The darks are now satisfactory; the mane soft yet still with structure and detail… I’ve used no white in my colours, and there is a lovely depth and richness to the colour, not surprising really when there’s 15 odd layers to it!

In the last photo, the wet layers of the glaze are visible on the hair ends……

To now look at the same technique using a different image. I will shut up now, and let the pictures do the talking….

start point- heightened colour

Still bright, but slowly glazing colour back and softening the edges…

Getting softer…

Softer still….

Completed… about 25 partial glazes… phew!

So that’s it in a nutshell… I now can’t stop glazing, it’s given me the ability to create the velvety softness of shine that has previously, always eluded me…..

You know, I’ve just gotta share these things! It’s way too good to keep all to myself!!

Thanks for joining me, and please come back soon and see what I’m up to!

Jane xx

I’m obsessed with blue horses

In preparation for booking my flights for a painting holiday in France (with David Mcewan at www.paintfrance.com) I’m stoking up my obsession for white horses to practice for painting the little white Camargue horses.

Thing is my horses are anything but white!

Many moons ago, whilst attending a workshop run by The Society Of Equestrian Artists, the great Malcolm Coward (sporting and equestrian artist/guru) told me I used way too much white… I cannot remember his exact words as it is now over 10 years ago… but he said that there was only ever a ‘sliver’ of white on a ‘white’ horse, and that I had to look harder and see more colour….

One of Malcolm’s Books…..

It probably took a number of years until these wise words sunk in and I really understood what he was telling me…. In fact, I sort of wish the penny had dropped quicker for me, but everything in their own time, eh?

So, inspired to paint the Camargue ponies, hoping that whilst on my holiday I can take hundreds of my own reference photos to work from back in the studio, I searched out an image and set off working….. I have taken a number of progress shots to share my methods, procedures, mutterings and brushwork as I went.

The reality is that I will have to sell this painting to be able to fund my trip! Any takers???

Stage 1.

Working to a pencil line sketch, with tonal variations marked, I start to lay in some base washes onto the lead horse. I’m using acrylic paint as though it was watercolour…. Why? Well I find I can badly cheat on the complex watercolour rules of technique! I can lay down some of the darker tones and wash over them with a thin glaze of lighter shades, knowing that the underlayers will not move or bleed. In this way I can keep the accuracy I crave and not turn my painting into a muddy mess of layers.. all being well that is the intention anyway!

I do love the colour combination of brilliant blue alongside the warms of a burnt sienna… really does it for me!

Stage 2.

I keep on adding the base colours and looking for the shadows and darker tones. I know at this point that one major area of difficulty will be the flowing tail hairs, which I’m really not looking forward to trying to paint. The darker legs get some layers of an ultramarine and umber mix and then I glaze back over the dry paint with a weak brilliant blue to give a tint of colour, something which I wouldn’t have been able to do in true watercolour medium. The more I look at the reference picture I am working from, the more peaches, pinks, lilacs and purples I see.I’m trying to leave a minimal amount of naked white paper, but also trying to be subtle. Times like this I wish I could have a little more courage and get a stronger tone without feeling so worried!

Stages 3 and 4.

The basic colour layering and tonal work is developed further and continued into the two other horses. I want my lead horse to stand out in the foreground, so I’m hoping to make her darker and use a higher level of detail. I’m allowing the rear two horses to be lighter and more suggestive… at this point I’m struggling a little with the tonal balance.. I need a lot more layers!

I’m also considering if I am going to add a background, as I quite like the bareness of the paper.. I realise also that I will need at least, to state some cast shadows and ground surface detail, so I’m still undecided… ho hum….

Stage 5

Now I’m really pilling on the layers, steadily darkening the tones, I seem to be progressively adding layer and layer of brilliant blue, each one acting as a thin veil of colour, gradually achieving the required depth, I hope.

I’m still considering the background (or lack of!) trees, pebbles and hedgerows are not my strong point, and in fact, hedges are most probably number one on my most-hated-list. These horses are galloping in the air though, and are really in need of some grounding. Humbug…..

Stage 6 and 7

I’ve bitten the bullet and started to add a background and of course, instantly, regretted this. BLOW IT.

I now feel really harassed knowing I have to commit to hedgerow, pebbles et al….. Totally my own fault. So I head back to the easel with a very strong coffee, put some monotonous dance music on to give me ‘energy in the zone’, push my sleeves up and crack on with the job in hand.


Stage 8.

After a good few hours slog, much coffee and muttering, I think I am coming out of ‘the other end’. I feel much happier with the background and thank goodness, now feel that I may have made the right choice! I again feel I have made the right medium choice for me;  I’m in acrylic and now have applied maybe 15 glaze washes over the foreground, and then a pinky-peach wash over the horses and the sky  so that hardly any bare paper is remaining. In watercolour, my whole image would be swimming away like the painting in the flake advert!

Am I finished?

I’m not 100% sure. I may need gto go darker in the cast shadows, put more definition into the rear two horses, add more colour to the roadside vegetation…. But to be honest, my eyes are now too tired to keep painting and the coffee has done it’s worst, I’m yawning wide and caffine wired!

This piece entitled ‘White Horses’ will be for sale within a week. I’m going to stare at it all weekend to judge if I can improve it without spoling it or overpainting. The funds of the sale will go directly to my ‘Camargue fund’ to pay for a horseback day trip to collect hopefully, a delectable cselection of reference photos. Fingers crossed!

Thank you for joining me on my blog. I will keep you updated on any action in the painting studio!