Saturday, August 11, 2012

Spirit Run

Spirit Run by J. Binford-Bell

Spirit Run is my latest completed work. I have done three paintings after my sabbatical into photography. All of the three have employed not just my customary liquid watercolors and inks but oil sticks. And I have moved on to less familiar subjects. As a result I have spent more time in sketching and more time working on one picture at a time.

All the pretty horses

What young girl, who fancies herself artistic, doesn't spend time drawing horses. In fact, had I kept my high school spiral notebooks, you would find they were more full of horses than notes. I was the kid who ran with scissors. Today we diagnose them HAADD, hyper active attention deficit disorder, and medicate them. I found I could attend to what was being said in class if part of my overactive brain was drawing in the margins of my notebooks.

But I digress. When I conceived of the idea of running horses I frankly had forgotten how to draw them so it was back to Google for images to use as models and yes, a drawing lesson on two. I drew five or six horses in different positions and then I traced each individual and laid them on a table. I rearranged until I had my basic composition. Then I traced through what I wanted on a larger sheet of tissue paper.

Liquid skies

Nothing beats liquid watercolor for skies. And because of working in that medium I begin my skies first. They set the tone for the rest of the painting. And it is easier to mask off the foreground and quickly lay in the sky than mask off the background and laboriously fill in the touching middle ground. It is oh so much quicker too and allows you to get the mask off before it decides to be part of your final work.

Painted ponies

There is a set of my followers on my Face Book Fan Page that believe this is where I should have stopped. There is certainly a simplicity about it and I can see where after pouring the sky I could have masked the horses legs and tails off and poured a simple "ground" for them to run upon. I keep my sketches so there is no reason I cannot do that version later. It just isn't at this point where I wanted to go with this work. Like I knew where I wanted to go.

Horses melting into the land

I like my goddesses and now my horses to be a part of the landscape. My original idea was that they should appear to come out of the land. Like my previous work Stampede, Spirit Run is based on the feeling I got upon visiting Dead Horse Mesa in Canyonlands area of Utah. They are ghost horses.

From the earth

And so the dark space which can be shadow cast by the setting sun or the chasm between mesas that live horses could not leap or a hole in time from which the horses emerge. At this point the painting is still all watercolors except from some metallic glitter floated in on the wet colors. I was also at this point sure I had ruined the painting. It isn't easy adjusting to the fact that with inks and oil I can cover up a lot of my mistakes.

Laying on of the oils and ink

Inks add definition and the oil sticks I think add weight. Made the horses look maybe a bet too real so I worked on fading the center horses back into the chasm from which they came and uniting them more with the earth.

In the finished work at the top of this blog some of the streaks in the earth become water by the addition of inked in ripples of silver. All my desert paintings have water. For me it is a prayer for moisture on the dry land. And in this time of drought I also put on a thunder cloud brand on the shoulder of the lead horse. And of course there are my signature ravens around the sun. And the one all alone which stands for a lost friend.


  1. A fascinating insight into how you do things. Love the step-by-step explanation and adore the end product. Now that is some painting.

  2. Always fascinating to see how artists create.

  3. Having read this I thought it was rather enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this information together.
    I once again find myself spending a significant
    amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still
    worth it!
    Feel free to visit my blog post : what are the symptoms of add in children


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.