Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thunder Run

Thunder Run
20 x 30 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas $1500

I became aware of the Salt River Wild Horses and their plight on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona just recently. The Salt River Wild Horses come under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This act was to protect all wild horses and burros on public lands but it also put the Bureau of Land Management as manager of these herds. And made no allowances for them on National Forest Land. Horses are seldom respectful of boundaries, imagined or fenced. 

Wild horses are not indigenous to America. Most of the mustangs on public land are descendants of horses brought over by the Spanish Conquistadors. The Salt River Wild Horses are, however, not mustangs. They have been living on the lower Salt River since well before the Tonto National Forest was created in 1902. An Arizona Champion newspaper article, dated January 25, 1890, and in the Arizona State Archives, classifies horses in the Salt River Valley as "native stock." 

Mustangs have been a subject of several paintings and when I discovered pictures of the Salt River Horses on the internet I had to paint them. I began working on a sketch which would involve horses, water, reflections and an approaching storm. Allegorically the storm is the plight facing these wild horses if the Tonto National Forest isn't stopped from their plan to round up and sell or kill them.

Drawing transferred and sky filled in

Any time I venture into new territory a painting takes longer. I do not work with a preliminary color cartoon like some painters. This canvas which is 20 x 30 could be considered my study for larger paintings on this subject. And watercolor canvas is a lot more forgiving than paper.

Foreground floated in

I also love the effect of floating in colors on an area of the canvas covered with water. It gives a great watery feel which was perfect for the Salt River in this painting. The rainbow colors also represent a hopefully better future for the wild horses. 

Horses and splashes blocked in

In past paintings of mustangs the horses themselves are main color focus but I chose to represent the horses as closer to their true colors since I was taking liberties with the water.

Clouds too complex and Splashes not done

The wild horses are taking definition but the clouds have too much. At this stage I was also not that happy with the splashes. Of all the elements in this painting the splashes were the most difficult. And yet I saw them as one of the major parts of the painting. The clouds were stealing the show. I simplified the clouds and put some purple in them and the splashes. Water is not just white even when splashed. And when they were too white they stopped the action.

Last, of course, is always the signature ravens. I debated where to put them. They are fleeing the storm as are the wild horses.

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