For most of the last twenty years, I have worked in the equine collectibles industry, making earthenware figurines like the ones pictured here. I am a specialist in the field because while I do sculpt, my primary focus has always been what we call finishwork – the design and execution of the horse’s color. Because the figurines are judged on realism and detail, there is a strong incentive for a finish artist to understand the nuances of horse color. Admittedly, my interest took a more obsessive (and technical) turn, but my heart will always be with the community of artists and collectors where it all began.
Finishwork gives a unique perspective on horse color. Because you are coloring “in the round,” it is essential to know what a color or pattern is doing even in the places that are not visible in the sorts of photos most people share of their horses.
The emphasis on realism also encourages finish artists to look more closely. How wide is that Fjord’s dorsal stripe? What color is it? It is also true that design pressures that have nothing to do with horse coloration lead artists to ask hypothetical questions. Can a horse have both fleabites and dapples at the same time? When can a tobiano have a colored leg? Can I make the end of the tail dark – or white?
A few years ago, I began publishing small guide books for finish artists. They were fun to write, but changes in the printing industry – and my focus on school – have meant they are now out of print. February is National Model Painting Month (NaMoPaiMo). Modeled after National Novel Writing Month, this annual event encourages participants to paint a model horse in a month. Although I have yet to complete a horse during NaMoPaiMo, I love the supportive atmosphere it promotes and I wanted to celebrate it. In that spirit, I’ve uploaded a PDF of the first of the Artist Guides for anyone to enjoy. (I only ask that you not reproduce it for anything other than personal use, nor make it available for download on another site.)
Clicking on the image above will take you to the PDF of “Painting More Realistic Tobianos.” For NaMoPaiMo participants, there is useful information, even if you are painting a different color or pattern. And for readers who are just interested in horse color, the book has a lot of information about variations in the tobiano phenotype. Eventually, I hope to pull some of that material over here to the blog. For now, though, please enjoy the book!