View Full Version : "Neptune's Steed" WIP

09-30-2005, 02:57 PM
it's been awhile since I posted a WIP while actually in progress because it takes me so darn long to finish a painting....but I really wanted a kick in the pants to get moving on this one. I started it back in the spring from one of my pics from my trip to Italy. I have been inspired to start back on this again by Lulu's pics of her trip to Italy. thanks Lulu!! :wave:

title: "Neptune's Steed"

size: 22"x12.5"

reference: my own pic of the Neptune Fountain at the Piazza del Signoria in Florence, Italy. I can close my eyes and feel and smell the place right now. *sigh*

paper: Arches 300lb cold pressed

paint: M Graham and possibly some Winsor Newton....not sure yet :D

I am almost finished up with the purple underpainting and am going to try to stick to mostly realistic colours - I have been challenged by my family actually. lol

I am hoping for lots of texture in this piece - hoping to get that by using salt, spattering and lifting techniques. it's gonna be a fun piece to paint!!!

thanks for peeking.....

comments and critiques most welcome


09-30-2005, 03:53 PM
I'll be watching! :)

T Christensen
09-30-2005, 04:51 PM
Oh yeah....me too...........TerryC

09-30-2005, 04:53 PM
And I shall keep my beady little eye (or two) on this also' :p

09-30-2005, 04:56 PM
I will be watching with interest as well Em.

09-30-2005, 07:32 PM
hi Andrea!

hi Terry!

hi Pearl!

hi Judy!

thanks for watching....here's as far as I got today.

I think the underpainting is done now and I will start on colour next time I wet my brushes.

the background was painted quite wet and then coarse salt thrown on. most of that will be washed back when the next washes are added...but some texture will still show through.

thanks again for peeking!!


10-01-2005, 06:56 AM
This is an amzing technique, em - I didn't believe tou could cover that purple until I tried it myself.


10-01-2005, 07:43 AM
I'll also be watching!

Looking great already.



my new art website (http://www.diva-design.de/JBB/index.htm)

10-01-2005, 07:44 AM
Woo-Hoo........pulling up a Chair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10-01-2005, 07:47 AM

Love the perspective on the prancing steed. Your purple underpainting is so good, it could stand on its own (I think once that you said that is what you aim for when you are doing it).

I think using salt to add texture, rather than have it "be" a texture on its own is much more subtle and less "gimmicky."

Looking forward to watching you paint this. If you need a "kick," we'll be glad to pester you. ;)

Glad Lulu's photos got you "back in the Italian mood."


10-01-2005, 08:24 AM
Oh, joy... another Em WIP... I am pulling up my chair here too....
And I just simply MUST find a tube of Dioxizine Purple... these
underpaintings impress me no end...

Jo in Georgia

Granny R
10-01-2005, 10:21 AM
Your purple washes are to die for Em. I love how the wash in itself forms the shapes. Love the effect of the coarse salt on the background for texture. Beautiful. It's a treat watching your steps.

10-01-2005, 02:42 PM
Oh Emily, I was there, looking at him and the other amazing statures in that square just last week. Didn't have my sketch book and made a promise to go back by myself - 65 minute train ride - i should be there once a week! You've given me a wake up call. Apart from that - I'm pulling up a chair - I love your WIPs!


10-01-2005, 03:31 PM
I'm impressed....
Is this "Dioxizine Purple" as Jo said.....
I like the idea of purple as a shade, but up till now I have mixed my own.....not good....so would like to use a colour that remains constant.....with just diluting.
Any colours it does not work well with....bnefore I end up doing trial and error....with mostly error ;-)
Could I have used that on the hot air balloons....

10-01-2005, 03:52 PM
Oh...look at you over here....great

10-01-2005, 09:39 PM
Doug - it can be surprising the results you can get with the purple underpainting

hi Jutta!

hi Judy!

Sylvia I welcome the pestering ;) and yes, when I paint an underpainting I think of it as a graphite drawing.....I "draw" in the shapes and forms with the purple much like I would with a pencil. so it could stand on it's own. :)

Jo - I use M Graham Dioxazine Purple but Winsor Newton's Winsor Purple is the same pigment I believe :)

hi Ruth! I am glad you are enjoying the WIP - it helps me too to stop and take pics and evaluate at the same time :)

oh Robyn!!!! :envy: :envy: :envy: what a fantastic opportunity you have living there!! so envious I am!!!

Pam! yup....feels good to be working on this again :)

ahhhh Brian!!! so I've corrupted you to the land of the purple underpainting ladies....whodda thunk?!! mixing your own is a gamble - I did it for years actually. I used ultramarine blue and permanent alizarin crimson. I'd mix up a big batch of it and then just re-wet it each time I painted. but it didn't always stay consistent. Nandie was experimenting with the underpainting and used Winsor Purple. it was a big "duh" moment for me when I realized there was an easier way. :rolleyes:

things to avoid with the purple....be very careful with it under yellow. kind of makes mud. under green you need to be careful as well....it takes a light hand or it will be too dark.

and most definitely your balloons would have been a great subject for an underpainting. actually, I am totally baffled as to how to create value and shape and form without an underpainting and I am in awe of those that can do it without an underpainting.

I've been working on it today......

here it is with a new colour for me....WN Quin Gold. on the background with a very wet wash and coarse salt.


and I did some wet in wet washes with the Quin Gold on the horse itself. both my daughters want me to stop on the horse right now...they like how it's so smooth against the textured background. BUT as I told them...it's an old weather worn statue.....it needs to have some character ;) so character is most likely my next step.


thanks for commenting and keeping me company :)


10-02-2005, 03:39 AM
WOW! Great start, Em! Love the composition.

I can see why your daughters wanted you to leave the horse alone but you're right, he needs texture and character. Looking forward to seeing your progress!

You've discovered quin gold just as they changed the formulation? Join the club! lol :rolleyes:


10-02-2005, 03:58 AM
I have to agree wth your girls. Looks awesome like it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I really love the contrasts of the smooth horse agaist the rough textured background too!!

10-02-2005, 07:40 AM
Ruth and em,
You can still find some older tubes of WN Quin Gold (I did and scarped it up) in paint stores. Look at the ingredients, the pigment you want is Quinacridone PO 49. If it has more ingredients than that, it is the new formulation which I read somewhere that people don't like as much as the original.

Looking good, Em. Agree the horse needs some aging. :)


10-02-2005, 09:09 AM
Wow, this is fantastic! Staying tuned for the finish..

10-02-2005, 09:21 AM
Hi Em... this composition is just wonderful... I love the perspective of your steed... fabulous background already... I can't wait to see how you *weather* this guy...

I love dioxazine... it's a beautifully vibrant purple that does stay consistent... when added to my black mix, it makes the most beautiful darks...

I love quin gold, too... if you can find it, buy it!!! I think that Daniel Smith still has a supply...

10-02-2005, 09:37 AM
Hi, Em... I've come in to look at this many times already :)
It's nice to know that Winsor Purple is a close equivalent to DP.
I also love Quin Gold ...need to look for it next trip to my art

I am fascinated by your exquisite shaping by use of shading
and darks... And learn more each time I look and read. Thank

Jo in Georgia

10-02-2005, 10:31 AM
Jeez.....for a moment I thought you had written "purple underpantied ladies"....
Thanks for the tips....I'm not too convinced that this is always the way to go....but in the case of smooth shadings, I think it would work....as it does for you.
Winsor Purple it is then.....it could last me a lifetime......unless I start painting flowers.;-)
Your use of salt really worked here and I have only seen a handfull of cases where it does work, and that is just the way you used it....for wall weathered effects, especially in cement or stucco....
Is there a reason why they carved the ears that way?.....so they don't break off?

T Christensen
10-02-2005, 10:44 AM
I have to agree with Brian , I'm not sold on this method either . Unless it is used as a tool not as the result . I'll probably have to eat my words at this finish tho :) . Love the start , anxiously waiting for the finish .......TerryC

10-02-2005, 03:09 PM
Em: Another great one. I am enjoying watching this develop. I'm gonna give that underwash a try on the next painting. The composition on this is great -- very striking.

10-02-2005, 05:02 PM
Glad I found this--always like looking at your step by step progress, EM... And I am looking froward to seeing the finale... What a dynamic beast you got there...


10-03-2005, 12:56 PM
If you wouldn't do watercolours I believe you would be a sculptor. I just amazing, this underpainting thing. Excellent as usual.

10-04-2005, 12:45 PM
I am always at awe when you do an underpainting because it is a complete piece in its own right. The horse before color looked much like a white stone statute and is magnificent.

I was thinking - have you tried to underpaint not only with your usual mixture but with various mixtures because not all shaded areas contain violet as a base. Imagine painting grass in shade, I am not sure what you'd get if you underpainted it with violet.

I am saying this because sometimes after you complete a painting the underpainting is so obvious and not appropriate for some parts of the painting. I hope I am not intruding on the "offence-taking" territory, I am trying to inform myself and see what your experience has been.

In my opinion, this kind of underpainting would suit some floral subjects and many still lifes that you have done - all I am saying is that it is not appropriate for all times and for all subjects. Sometimes, the underpainting seems to deaden the vibrancy and brilliancy of some colors - Would it be possible to stretch this method further by introducing underpainting using other colors beside the violet, like ultramarine or burnt sienna perhaps?

Any thoughts or conclusions, I am sure you have experimented much with this.

I am now tempted to press DELETE because I just remembered another thread where hm.. things were said.... But, at the same time, I want to stay true to my opinions and voice them the way I feel them.
They are in good faith.

10-04-2005, 03:36 PM
my apologies to all who have commented that I am not addressing in this post. I have limited time right now but couldn't let Ale's comments go unaddressed.


no offense taken. your comments were well thought out and your questions valid.

I agree that not all subjects are suitable for a purple underpainting. but in my experience with my own likes and dislikes as judgement I have come this far in my colour journey.......( I have much more to learn!!!)

yellow is not suitable at all. it dulls the colour and makes a bit of unnatural shadow colour when all is said and done. that having been said....look at my horse above....I've chosen to use the purple underpainting here since I plan on mucking up that colour quite a bit and I knew that purple would help me do that. :p an exception to every rule!! yellow is one instance that a warmer colour would be suitable for an underpainting although I haven't done much experimenting.

I don't prefer purple shadows on white objects. but I've painted them that way. it all depends on mood and the flavor of the light.

I always use purple under green...regardless of subject. but that could just be my preference and not yours. it's a matter of taste I'd say. I am careful to not overdo the underpaintings values since green can be lost over top of purple. I use it for darkest darks mostly. some examples of my paintings where purple underpainting was used....


very rarely when my paintings are done is the underpainting obvious to me - now maybe it is obvious to others - I might be too close to it to see it. interesting point.

this painting was done with the purple underpainting on skin and it is very evident here that it was used...as well the background was mainly purple....it is my sisters fave colour and this was painted for her. :)


but with this portrait the underpainting was used but I don't think it's as evident.


it's my preference now to not use purple for an underpainting on skin. that is a reflection of my tastes changing as I grow and learn.

I am sure that other colours would be suitable for underpainting - I have not worked much in this area since I feel I am not that limited with the purple and feel I have more to learn yet. I feel I get reasonable results with it and my main purpose is to set shape and form and values. I am afraid I would be starting from scratch knowledge-wise if I were to switch techniques right now and not use the underpainting. I enjoy it. I love to see the paper take shape and form and once the underpainting is completed then I can have loads of fun with colour!!!! it works for me right now.....who's to say I won't tire of it and go off in another direction tomorrow?!!!

thanks for some thought provoking questions Ale. I hope I've answered them sufficiently:)


10-04-2005, 05:39 PM
You gave me a good answer Emily. Sorry that you had to go through the trouble with loading and demonstrating and explaining.

I remember these and other of your paintings lile the coconuts and the aloe with that fantastic shadow on sand.

These here are awesome too. The one where I could least guess how you achieved what you achieved is the iris ... yes, and the birches. It is more obvious on the skin - and you noticed that too. It is certainly an intriguing way to get better more saturated darks - at least in some situations. I am intrigued to try it as soon as a suitable subject crops up. Actually I was making a similar comment today on Ruth's macro - when I try I will show you so we can share the experience.

I thank you (and everyone else here) for sharing and revealing their techniques because it is with using all available techniques that we will be able to achieve the most in our painting.

10-04-2005, 07:52 PM
Isn't this place great!!

Love those Birches Em.

10-04-2005, 09:13 PM
Em... every time I walk past my babies, I smile... every time... your painting technique is as perfect as it gets... even with skin... and especially with my babies' skin...

BTW... we're going through the terrible two's... lol... Kiara, still not able to walk, has been fitted with a little wheelchair... it's giving her some mobility because Colm likes to push her around... Her hearing aid has really helped and she's talking up a storm... Colm's favourite TV show is Jeopardy!!! *laughing*

10-05-2005, 06:43 AM
Wonderful explanation and demonstration Em!
Char, are those your grandchildren?? How did I miss this painting? It's delightful!!
Love the one of your sister too, Em, she looks like quite the character!


10-06-2005, 10:36 AM
thank you all for commenting and following along.

I had hoped to have this finished by now but life has gotten in the way. I did paint some yesterday though and I am almost done!!!

I did some dry glazing with WN Brown Madder to warm things up a bit on the horse. did a bit of spattering and dabbed most of it up so that it wasn't very noticeable.....just roughed up the surface so it wasn't perfect ;)


then I went in with MGraham Ultramarine Blue on the horse dry glazing and on the background wet in wet. did some more spattering too. I like the background as is right now and I don't think I'll do much else to it. although I'll wait until the horse is completed to decide:)


my next step would be to go in with my darkest colour - my black mixture of MGraham phthalo green and WN permanent alizarin crimson .....hopefully I will work on that this morning. my painting buddy is coming over!!!

thanks for peeking and for all your comments and questions too!!!


10-06-2005, 10:43 AM
looking wonderful , Sis

and thanks for the time and effort to be so forthcoming about your techniques!

10-06-2005, 08:34 PM
Em he is looking wonderful........... Woot..........

10-06-2005, 10:19 PM
This is beautiful em. Love that background :clap:

Lynn Quinn
10-07-2005, 11:35 AM
Thanks for doing this as a WIP! Must be quite time-consuming, but its very helpful!

10-07-2005, 12:22 PM
:cool: :clap: :clap: :clap: :cool:
Thanks for the mini lesson......

10-07-2005, 12:58 PM
thanks everyone!!

I am glad you are enjoying the WIP photos - doing them sure has helped me complete this sooner than if I was just doing it on my own :cool:

here is the last step....my black mixture of WN permanent Alizarin Crimson and M Graham phthalo green on the horse. I spattered and blotted up while still wet so the dots weren't too obvious. then I added some streaks and some dotty bits to add weather and some depth as well.

I think it is finished now :)


and a couple of close up shots...hopefully they will look like a big image of the entire painting....*crossing fingers* ;)


thanks for following along and for commenting and for your questions too!!


T Christensen
10-07-2005, 01:01 PM
May I be the first to say ....Wonderful ...........TerryC

ArtsyMom x3
10-07-2005, 01:06 PM
You are something else....and this is no exception. These paintings, every single one of them are the most vivid paintings I've seen....they are so creative and magical. Thanks so much for the priviledge of viewing them!! You use colors in ways I am blown away by!! GREAT JOB!!! Now THAT is what I call artistry!

10-07-2005, 06:22 PM
thanks Terry:)

oh my!! thank you for the kind words Monique:)


10-07-2005, 07:12 PM
Fantastic finish Em, thanks for taking us along for the ride, another way to use that neat purple underpainting. Great job. Stars from me.

10-07-2005, 08:16 PM
I really love this Em. It is my new fav' of yours. COngratuations.. :clap:

10-08-2005, 04:48 AM

I love the finished painting with its streaky mix of colors on the horse!

Your WIP was so interesting and informative, I've given you my Mentor point for today. You sure deserved it with this one. Think I'll rate this thread too. ;)

Well done. Oh, and it was fun seeing your paintings together again.


10-08-2005, 07:49 AM
What a beauty he is, Em! Your technicolour steed finished as a breathtaking piece of art... I love all the spatters... your background is exactly what it should be... interesting in texture, filled with colour, but sitting behind your horse...

Like Sylvia, I'm giving you a Mentor Point and rating this Thread... you give soooo much to WC when you do these WIPS!!!

10-08-2005, 03:35 PM
thanks Judy:)

thank you JJ!!

Sylvia and Char - thank you so much for rating this thread. this is my first thread to show it's rating - others have told me they've rated my threads but I've never recieved enough ratings for them to actually show on a thread. this means a lot to me since I feel this site has a great deal to do with giving and receiving information. for others to feel that my thread rates in that group is an honor to me:)


10-09-2005, 05:23 AM
WHOA HORSEY!!!! This turned out fabulous..... love the weather-worn look and everything. Two hairy thumbs up!!

10-11-2005, 07:06 AM
I love the horse, I'm purple with envy.

I'm not clear on the difference between an underpainting, and the first 'wash' done on an object. Saw this new post in the library and would like to try it, not sure if I could attempt a purple underpainting first though, any suggestions: http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=54511&si=carousel%20horse


10-11-2005, 10:46 AM
Andrea - hairy? *shudder* ;)

Kathy - I would say that the difference between an underpainting and a first wash would be that the underpainting is applied very deliberately to create shape and form and shadow. the way I view an underpainting is that if it can stand on it's own as a completed painting then it's done it's job. I think of it much like a graphite drawing - I "draw" in all the form. Washes are an easy way to lay down colour - you can be particular about how you lay them down but then that would probably be bordering on being an underpainting then. that is just my interpretation - I'm sure others have differing views on this:)

not sure I've explained it well enough....anyone else want to take a stab at the difference between an underpainting and a wash?


10-11-2005, 04:01 PM
Andrea - hairy? *shudder* ;)

Kathy - I would say that the difference between an underpainting and a first wash would be that the underpainting is applied very deliberately to create shape and form and shadow. the way I view an underpainting is that if it can stand on it's own as a completed painting then it's done it's job. I think of it much like a graphite drawing - I "draw" in all the form. Washes are an easy way to lay down colour - you can be particular about how you lay them down but then that would probably be bordering on being an underpainting then. that is just my interpretation - I'm sure others have differing views on this:)

not sure I've explained it well enough....anyone else want to take a stab at the difference between an underpainting and a wash?


Thanks, I think that makes sense to me now. Maybe I'll try it on a small painting first.


10-13-2005, 06:17 PM
WOW - I am so glad, that I found this thread. WOW again, your work is really stunning and also your use of colours. Now that is a really WIP, you explain your steps, say, which colours are you using. These are the informations, for what we all are searching.
I will rate your thread with 5 and I will also give you a Merit Point. I would give more, when it is possible. Love your work very much and this portrait of your sister is also stunning and this Iris .... oh they are all wonderful.

10-24-2005, 10:31 AM
I'm really taken with this painting. The drawing and detail of the horse is impressive, did you trace it from a picture or hand draw it? I'd love to see the picture you took it from too. Would you mind if I tried to do it for practice?