Painting a Horse in Watercolor: 7 Tips and Tricks to Know
If you like to have a painting of a horse in watercolor, you must first ask: what is it you want ?
Why not just a photo? What would make the difference between other forms of art and watercolor?
Often people don't give it much of a thought. But they feel that there's something deeper in handcrafted, customized artwork than in a photo. That's true for many reasons, even though a photograph can do the same job, if handled as a sophisticated medium. But here is the thing about watercolor: it's a tiny bit magic and shows gorgeous colors brilliantly.
Watercolor originated as a technique employed for draft work only, a quick sketch or a plan. Not a finished artwork. But the impressionists in the 19th century changed that and made watercolor a salon worthy medium. They valued how the use of the white of the paper created light effects and how wet in wet paint created unforeseen results - every next generation of painters continued to explore the exciting world of watercolors ambitiously.
If you want to remember your horse in a certain moment at a certain day - honestly : get a good photo. That will do it, because photography successfully creates the illusion of "proof" and "frozen in time". If you want to see an interpretation of what your horse might/ could/ seem to be and what associations it could evoke: get a watercolor painting of your horse!
Examples of Horse in Watercolor
The image below shows a simple close up of the face of a horse, realistic, but only to a degree.
"in its face", 2021, watercolor on paper, 23 by 16 inches
While preparing this painting of a horse in watercolor, I made a decision concerning the color: monochrom in burned sepia, which is a very warm tone and lively. It could be a bit annoying as well - depending on the eyes of the beholder. I also portrayed only a detail of the horse's face, as if I were a horse too - eye to eye.
"Beauty", 2019, watercolor on paper, 8 by 10 inches
This watercolor work doesn't create a feel of intimacy, as the first one did.
This one is clearly made up and transformed into a poorly decorative object. I had in mind these doll horses kids can get as paint sets. (Don"t buy these sets though! They are just very unsatisfying - bad quality all together). But the idea is intriguing.
Horses are beautiful - everybody would agree. But tough to handle: oversized, dirty and just .... a real animal. But the idea, to turn them into a bird like thing, more like a vision - maybe they are as small as a hand and could be changed to the salt dispenser on the table, entertaining with sparkling skin - a watercolor horse painting can go there.
7 Tips on How To Make Your Own Horse in Watercolor Painting
1. Make a plan of your watercolor horse painting
Give yourself some time. to make up your mind. What exactly are you shooting for? How would you like your horse painting to be in the end? Find your answers first before you get the brush.
2. Have a reference paintings that you like
If you are insecure in drawing a horse, but you would like it to be somehow realistic - take a photo for reference. Do not hesitate to check the photo while drawing to have better results.
3. Quality is key while drawing
Use high quality brushes and treat them gently - they will like you back. Also use real watercolor paper and not some thin copy paper from next to your printer. Otherwise you would regret it…
4. Be bright & fresh with your watercolor painting
Don’t get too dark! Work in one layer over the other layer, very thin , very clean use of color - and always fresh water.
5. Patience is essential while drawing a horse in watercolor
Be patient please - never get to dark - dark kills the surface, creates black holes which will ruin your artwork.
6. Keep your work simple and spacey
There is no obligation to use all the color you have and to fill all of the paper you work on. So don’t be afraid of the white of the paper - less is more.
7. Have fun
Drawing a horse in watercolor is definitely not an easy task. However, enjoy the journey as much as the destination and have fun during working. Focusing on the result more than you should could harm the result you would get.