Jun
16

The Creation of “Gathering Light”

 

Sportie

It is amazing how time and space come together to lead me to make choices for the elements for a portrait.   Such was the case with Sportie.  Sportie is a beautiful Irish Draft and Arab gelding who became an angel a couple years ago.  His owner, Tracey lives in England.  She described him as:

“Sportie was my best friend, we had over 15 years together and he always kept me smiling.  He was playful and cheeky and always ready for a cuddle or massage.  Sportie loved my daughters and when there were little they often lay with him in the stable.  I am so lucky to have had him in my life.

Of all the photos Tracey sent me from the beginning I found myself being drawn to one in particular — of Sportie playing in his pasture — his mane flying up in the air.  It wasn’t a detailed photo that I’d usually pick for a portrait — but the joy in it was incomparable.

When my schedule permitted me to begin Sportie’s portrait I called Tracey to confirm that I was starting.  She had a beautiful voice and a delightful English Accent.  I imagine she would say I have an American Accent!  We talked of the upcoming portrait and she became very excited that I was ready to begin.  When I asked Tracey if she had a preference for which photo to use for his portrait — she said she loved them all as they were all him, and that in particular she loved the pictures of Sportie playing in the sunlight.  That was my favorite photo too so that was the right choice.

As I went through a few days in preparation for the painting, I kept seeing Sporty’s image in my mind’s eye with rays of light radiating out from his mane.  I cropped the picture into a square to make a close-up of his face.  Enlarging the photo that much made for quite a blurry photo, but fortunately I had another photo of Sportie that was a similar position and allowed me to see more details.  I composed that sketch onto the pastel paper.

 

 

I began the painting creating the background with a series of bright yellow at the top and then added the lightest yellow — almost white pastel.  I realized as I did this there was one flaw in my plan — Sporty’s mane was white — and what made the photo dramatic was that he was backlit from behind with a darker background — making his mane light up.  My thought to make rays of light at the top wouldn’t offer enough contrast to make the mane shine.

So I started adding tones of green to offer something to set off the light color of the mane and the horse.  The green strokes felt like they wanted to extend out from the middle of the square painting; essentially the middle of his throat, in a sunburst pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

The picture of Sporty had an amazing and subtle array of colors.  What most people don’t realize is that light reflects off of everything, especially a white horse.  The camera enhanced this effect in the shadows of Sporty’s white coat.  If I softened my focus I could see lavendar, turquoise, and blue.  I decided to go with this effect, and starting with the shoulder I applied sweeping soft layers of muted colors, working my way up to the neck and over to the head.  The array of colors allowed me to use colors from my pastel boxes I rarely use!  Later I added highlights to the face.  Then I worked in the pink markings around his lips and the shadows around his eye and lips in subtle tones of dark blue.

 

The picture of Sporty had an amazing and subtle array of colors.  What most people don’t realize is that light reflects off of everything, especially a white horse.  The camera enhanced this effect in the shadows of Sporty’s white coat.  If I softened my focus I could see lavendar, turquoise, and blue.  I decided to go with this effect, and starting with the shoulder I applied sweeping soft layers of muted colors, working my way up to the neck and over to the head.  The array of colors allowed me to use colors from my pastel boxes I rarely use!  Later I added highlights to the face.  Then I worked in the pink markings around his lips and the shadows around his eye and lips in subtle tones of dark blue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The body was now complete so I moved to the mane.  This I drew in bold strokes of the lightest yellow.  Some shadow tones in blush rose and gray offered contrast.

While creating I always listen to music and one particular cd I chose was so fitting to this piece that I thought readers might like to listen to it.  It is called “Air” by Peter Kater


I always create the eyes last.  It is as if I need to create the body first for the horse to have a place to “live” and then the eye is the final touch of the spirit. The photo was taken at a distance so I couldn’t see Sporty’s eye clearly, but I could feel the softness of his expression.

 

 

The other photo taken of a similar pose with a similar expression gave me some of the detail I hoped for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly since the rest of the painting was so colorful, I felt that using black to create the dark eye wouldn’t look right.  So I used a very deep dark purple instead.  It came together so smoothly — and there he was, looking back at me.

I always put a new painting on an easel in my living room when it is finished.  I turn the light on and step away and turn around.   It is an amazing experience for me because it is the first time I have ever seen the painting complete, from more than a couple feet away.  It is truly viewing it for the first time.  There is always a fascinating sensation that the painting was already created, and the painting seems to be so much more than the sum of its parts.

 

“Gathering Light”

When my husband Rod saw this piece he had an interesting observation that he perceived a lot of movement in the horse, and to him the sunburst pattern was actually moving from the outside in rather than from the inside out.  He also noticed that Sporty’s eyes followed him wherever he moved in the room.

I had an unusually challenging time coming up with the title for this painting… I wanted the title to be more than just the sense of light — but also about Sporty and the light combined, and I finally settled on “Gathering Light”.

As Tracey awaited her portrait to arrive she admitted to feeling nervous because she knew it was going to be emotional seeing him again.  I assured her that I believed she would feel it as a reunion rather than a reminder that he wasn’t with her.

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Upon receiving the portrait Tracey’s comments were:

Sportie has arrived and WOW took my breath away, totally drew me in!  I did cry a little but loads of smiling.  The colours are amazing and the family all agree how beautiful it looks. My girls would both love a poster in their bedrooms!  It is being framed at the moment and I can’t wait to get it up in its place.

overjoyed, Tracey

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It is such a wonderful feeling to know that my art can part the veil between a woman and her beloved horse, and touch the hearts of all those who see this beautiful being that is Sportie.  I hope you have all enjoyed reading about my journey with him and that you will share with me how the art speaks to you.

I wrote the following poem for his painting…

 

Spirit
Illuminate me
I stand before you innocent as a child
with my arms wide open
ready to receive the light you offer

You are the truth of a cliff’s edge
and the laughter of a daisy
You are wild as geese in flight
and gentle as a old oak

You are full to overflowing
With Love

~ Kim McElroy

Prints and Posters of “Gathering Light” are available at www.spiritofhorse.com

 


Comments

  1. Kim… received your blog this morning. all I can say say is, “Awesome”! gave me
    tears. it was such a beautiful paintin of the Creation of Gathering Light. thank you
    so much for sharing this beautiful aft. I love the blog you have, and all the info you
    give. take care Kim.
    Warmly,
    Elaine

  2. Thanks again Kim for this amazing beautiful portrait of my boy sportie,he looks so handsome and proud and he will take pride of place in my living room.The colours are strong yet peaceful and almost hypnotic i cant explain the emotions it brings out in me, a little tearful but mostly joy and strength.Also,i love the title and the poem everything i hoped for and more . Thankyou…..
    Tracey.

  3. He is amazing !!….. as are all the others I have “met” through your web page. I do get tears each time I read about the beautiful angels you work with. Its wonderful getting a behind the scenes look at how you think about the creation of the painting. I am always excited to see what e-mail comes next !! You are truly a gift. Cant wait to get my angels painted :-) And I still have my fingers crossed that i can make it to one of your classes someday.
    Hugs, Virginia

  4. Wow! the colours are so vibrant — the popping green and yellow, and the shimmering blues. Just gorgeous! It’s like a cool lake, and a burst of sunshine, and a load of personality! Thank you universe for this gifted artist and the magnificent horses she lets us get to know!

  5. I just love the behind the scenes story of these fabulous spirits. I’m drawn to the colours of Gathering Spirit and how you created the contrasting colours to capture Sportie’s energy. Thank you for sharing this wonderful creation with us.

  6. Dear Kim,

    Your paintings and blog have brought me to happy tears ever since I have found you on the web. I so love your work and your passion for horses and painting their beautiful spirits. This painting is so very special and your poem is so lovely. Your purpose in helping others connect with their artist soul in such a loving manner is so very heartfelt.

    Blessings with Love & Light & Laughter Always in Your Heart~
    Lisa A Bull
    Zaisho

  7. Dear Kim,

    I just had to blog you and your work. You are Magnificent with so much heart & Soul~
    Please come and see what you have done for me in sharing of your purpose & passion. You are truly ‘Inspiration in Action” and I invite you to join BraveHeart Women’s Global Community that Ellie Drake has founded and given to the World to help us Thrive and Rise up to Shine our own Enlightenment with Each Other from our Hearts & Souls to the World. Healing it one heart at a time. She and so many others have supported me as I have been healing my own heart and soul. Please visit and see for yourself. I know that you have made a difference in my life and I know you could for others there too.

    Blessings with Love & Light & Laughter Always In Your Heart~
    Zaisho

    http://www.braveheartwomen.com/blog-entry/Zaishos-Blog/Releasing-Beautiful-Energy/13000079279

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Kim and Mystico