View Full Version : Completed pastel horse portrait

02-14-2012, 05:05 PM
I wanted to make a drawing of a friend's horse as a favor (and practice for me, it had been a few years since I had made a good quality horse drawing), so last summer I watched her and her quarter horse compete in a western pleasure meet.

Using the photos I created a decent sketch, and then started working in Stabilo pastel pencils on Mi Tientes gray colored paper.

It was only the 2nd time I have worked in pastel pencils before, but I think the results were pretty good. I just wish I had found a way to get a better, darker black out of the pastels...I ended up having to use compressed heavy charcoal to get the true black I wanted in some of the shadowed areas.

I was certainly happy with the picture's reception-she cried when she got it.

I (stupidly) tried to use a spray fixative, and ended up darkening and destroying a lot of light, minute details (should have read up more on protecting pastels when complete) and had to go back and redo a lot of little things, but it was a good learning experience and the recipient was very happy.

Anyone have any recommendations for fixatives for pastels for the future--brands, use, etc.? I think I remember seeing a good thread somewhere about how to properly spray a pastel or charcoal (wish I had read it before doing this one)...


02-14-2012, 05:45 PM
Hello I am new at pastels myself infact have hardly drawn much since school til lately but they have all been in pastels. I use Nupastels but these are not pencils but the stick which you can buy in open stock so maybe try one of their blacks as I find the black very black, using a lot of black in my pictures.
From what I have read that other people have said they don't recommend using any fixative on pastels as it darkens the painting. Not sure if that goes for the pencils too but I expect so.
Lovely picture I can see why she was so happy.Trudi:)

02-14-2012, 05:48 PM
Also I am told that usualy the matt is not put right up to the picture to allow for if any pastel falls off so that it does not go on the glass but falls in the space made my a spacer between the matt and painting. Hope this is some help.

02-14-2012, 07:07 PM
Absolutely beautiful!! I can't believe it's pastels - I thought it was done in oils when I first opened your post.

Sorry, I don't have any suggestions for the fixative. I'm sure someone else will pipe in though :)


02-14-2012, 11:36 PM
Thanks for the recommendations Artsask---I matted the picture by using one strip of archival tape across part of the top, taping the picture to an archival board, then I taped the mat to the backing board. The recipient had a home made barnwood frame constructed for the picture, and then had a professional framer make a glass cover and complete the framing-it turned out really nice! I will likely never use fixative on pastels again (ugh...learn by mistakes!), thanks for the suggestions!

Thank you both for the compliments-appreciate it! Several people I e-mailed photos of the drawing to thought it was paint as well! I was surprised at the nice color you can get with pastels.


02-15-2012, 10:16 AM
OMGosh Sara ..the drawing (B&W) is wonderful. Is the drawing UNDER the pastels? If so you start just like our basset painter David in here. I had to go back and look and relook at the saddle that is fantastic with detail. Not to say the rest isnt. The whole thing is amazing.


02-15-2012, 10:36 AM
Beautiful horse! Over in the pastel forum there are several threads about fixatives. A new, non-toxic one is out on the market & has gotten generally very good feedback; you just need to be careful in the application.

chammi kaiser
02-15-2012, 11:31 AM
Wow, that is a beautiful animal so well done. I love the way you have done that saddle. Terrific work.

02-15-2012, 11:36 AM
Wow! Amazing work! I just love all the fine details you put into it.

02-15-2012, 01:50 PM
Very nice!


02-16-2012, 06:19 AM
WOW! Absolutely magnificent piece. The lovingly created details are a feast for the eyes! Love the framing too, very unusual and compliments the painting well!

02-16-2012, 06:30 AM

02-16-2012, 07:28 AM
Stunning painting. The detail on the saddle is amazing. Good job.

02-16-2012, 02:57 PM
Wow, thanks very much for the compliments everyone-I really appreciate the feedback.

birdlady-the graphite drawing was a standalone prep sketch on regular 8.5 x 11 inch printer paper (I have been stingy in using sketch paper), and I did it as a thumbnail (large thumbnail!) prep sketch to get the lighting, details, shadows for the horse finalized as I was combining multiple photos that had the details and lighting I wanted.

I also was trying to get the saddle on the saddle stand proportionate to the horse, as I didn't have any photos of the horse standing with the saddle/saddle stand for scale comparisons. I was really relieved when it passed muster with the recipient...I thought for sure the saddle may have been a little too small, but she said it looked fine.

LOL--I got as many compliments on the saddle alone from people seeing it in person as I did for the horse and the whole picture! I was happy it turned out so well...I was nervous about drawing leather and getting the details right-it was a beautiful saddle to see in person, even though the owner/picture recipient said it is considered a little out of style for western pleasure now (I find that hard to believe, I think its a magnificent saddle!).

I'm glad to hear of the excellent recommendations and trial product uses posted on the pastel forum-I will definitely be making use of that in the future!

02-18-2012, 08:06 AM
Beautiful. how big is it (unframed)? I would love to see the progress pictures of the whole creating process. Could you post them, please?

02-18-2012, 02:19 PM
Stunning work! Such incredible detail on that saddle, i'm in awe! And the horse is exceptional!

Kathrin G.
02-18-2012, 03:47 PM
The horse is so well done and beautiful :thumbsup: but the saddle is just blowing my mind :eek: :clap: wow :clap:
fabulous work :thumbsup: