I began a series of 20 + paintings, on large canvases 63”x39” (150x100cm) to 39”x31” (100x80cm) to capture and express the beauty of the Mustang, their form, power and freedom, roaming across the seasonal changes of this dramatic western expanse of the United States.
The canvases become smaller as the Mustangs’ world shrinks with man’s interference.
To free-up the land coveted by the Frackers and Ranchers helicopters are used to round them up into compounds and restricted areas, where those that have survived the ordeal, are often held for years. Some are resettled, a few domesticated, and the rest sent off in stock-trucks for slaughter and doubtlessly human consumption. A terrified one of these is portrayed on my final canvas measuring just 12”x31” (30x25cm.)
My Painting process involves a combination of Plein air studies, photographic references for anatomical detail, and small visual colour notes in watercolour, oils and pencil sketches, to imbue an intimate connection or even a glimpse into the lives of individual horses.
My approach is to establish the Mustangs’ dramatic landscape, its winter harshness, the delicate spring and the scorching summer, and then show their entrapment by man in holding pens, cattle trucks, and in many cases their inevitable slaughter.
Blocking in the shapes of the landscape in mix media on layers of gesso grounds, I then build in the main action and details to establish the spatial relationship between the form of the animals and their surroundings.