View Full Version : Ol' Murray

Jim Updegraff
04-20-2005, 07:29 PM
Recently Iíve seen several horse portraits Ė Man oí War, Citation and some early 20th Century British racers and hunters. It struck me that I could do that. So, here is the start of a painting of my good saddle horse, Murray.

Murray is a big blue roan grade gelding, an honest sixteen hands and 1400 pounds on a good day. His breeding is questionable but from his looks it is a Percheron Ė Quarter Horse, or maybe Thoroughbred cross. I suspect Thoroughbred because of the length and slope of his shoulder. There is nothing fine or very refined about him. He is just a big strong horse. Seventy years ago he would have been hauling a wagon or a cannon. I bought him as a coming three year old because I thought he could carry my weight. He has frequently show that he can do that. Occasionally he has also shown that he can throw my weight a fair distance.

Not very smart but a good old horse for all of that. Here he is, all saddled and bridled for a three day ride.

Oil on pressed board with way too absorbant gesso, 24" x 24".



04-21-2005, 01:10 AM
I like this a lot...Jim....nice to read his background too....looks like a strong horse...and I think you have been very successful in depicting that strength especially in the strong linear application and planes...very strong work... :clap: looks like you two are best mates... :)
cheers kim

Anita Murphy
04-21-2005, 07:43 AM
I like this too. Very interested as I have been toying with the idea of a horse myself. Tell me, what is a quarterhorse? Don't think we call them that in UK parlance.
What I particularly like is that this is not your typical horse portrait - he has his ears back like he is really fed up having to pose YET AGAIN for some artist!
can't wait to see how he comes out.

Jim Updegraff
04-22-2005, 08:15 AM
If I can do this without being to prosaic about it, Quarter Horses are an American breed that started in the colonies with horses that were good sprinters over a quarter of a mile. Certainly the foundations were riding horses imported from England. The line turned into the standard American working saddle horse, especially after the western prairies were opened and cattle ranching became a major user of horseflesh. They tend to be smaller than Thoroughbreds and more heavily muscled, especially in the hind quarters. I suppose the Australian Waller is a similar animal with the same agility and quickness. The horses you see on cowboy movies are Quarter Horses. Today they seem to come in two varieties, the more elegant and delicate racing type and the stockier working cow pony. There is a breed register with all sorts of color requirements, e.g., no white above the knee or below the jaw. The breed has been made taller and more refined since the 1960s by the injection of Thoroughbred blood lines.

Jim Updegraff
04-27-2005, 05:42 PM
A little more work on this thing. Whether it is progress is open to question. The hind legs are giving me trouble.



Jim Updegraff
04-28-2005, 09:16 AM
Not pleased with where this is going. Someplace I lost the animals bulk and attitude. Last night the whole front end was scraped back to the under painting. Iíll let it dry throughly and then get back to it but probably not until next week Ė off to see the grandbaby this weekend. The little darling will be a year old on Friday.

Anita Murphy
04-28-2005, 10:36 AM
Jim - I think the hind quarters need to be larger and maybe the body isn't long enough. Hard to say without a comparison but that is my impression. Worth zilch by the way!

Jim Updegraff
05-09-2005, 11:02 PM
I think Iím about done with the basic shapes and tones on this. Next is the modeling and figuring out where the light is coming from. The convention seem to be to have the light from behind the viewerís right shoulder but this one seem to be going toward having the light source behind the viewerís left shoulder.



Anita Murphy
05-10-2005, 08:55 AM
Think what I really like about this Jim, is he is not posing like true show horse, but is looking a little disgruntled by the whole process! I love that his ears are back!

Jim Updegraff
05-22-2005, 06:36 PM
Here we go again. Itís getting closer to finished although Iím having troubles with the hindquarters. A horseís hind legs are its primary engine. All the forelegs really do is hold the body up while the hind legs drive it on. From stifle to hock they are tremendously muscled with great strong tendons along the top and a great gaskin muscle an the bottom. Iím having trouble showing the mass and strength of the hind legs.

I may post this over in the animal forum and see what some of those experts on equine anatomy have to say.




Anita Murphy
05-23-2005, 08:53 AM
Jim - is he a little short in the back? I'm always surprised by how long a horse's back is. I think that that is stopping you widening the hind quarters to make them large enough. Not an equine expert, more from years of observing my sister on her horse.
He definitely is not amused by having his portrait painted!

05-23-2005, 11:21 AM
Jim, I dont know anything about horses, but just how big is this guy? I feel the viewer must be laying on the ground looking up at him. Raising the horizon line might keep things in perspective.