Bessie: Commissioned Horse Portrait in Oils

Horses are amazing fun to paint, as there are so many different textures and expressions all contained in one horse. I worked from a photograph for this commission: Bessie had just won a race at an event in Wiltshire, and the sunlight was just catching her face. Her half-shut eye, coupled with the flared nostril, gave her an incredibly cock-sure look and the client and I both felt that this summed up the victorious confidence of a winner.

The painting was commissioned as a gift for the horse's owner, and when she received the portrait she asked me to alter the eye as she felt the half-closed lid made Bessie look mean. Oils are ideal for making these kind of changes seamlessly, so I repainted that detail. However, I have included the original portrait here as it is more accurate to the lighting in the photo, and also because I preferred the horse’s original expression. So here she is, in all her arrogant glory.