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The above painting is of a Gypsy Cob or “Tinker Horse”. You can read more about this breed of horse here.

I chose this painting to challenge myself, also. I wanted to work on capturing black by using the three primary colors. The other thing I found fascinating was the fact that the remainder of the horse was tones of white.Β  I did not paint this piece fast. I carefully drew the horse as a line drawing. I modeled in the shapes in the the whites and the blacks by using varied saturations of red, yellow and blue.Β  I mixed all my colors on the paper by scumbling them together with water. The background was painted after I wet it thoroughly and scumbled yellow and two reds together, softening and lifting with tissue as I worked.

Stephen Kellogg has written a beautiful poem about this horse, here.


  1. Leslie, This painting is lovely. You created black that is alive and the subtle colors in the white are beautiful. I also like the background and especially the lower right with the complementary red and green juxtaposed. This painting is vibrant!

    • Thank-you, Linda. You just made my evening! The things you mentioned took me a long time to find while I was slowly feeding color into color. Thanks.

  2. Hi Leslie,
    This painting just sings because you’ve captured the movement and the powerful form of the horse. You’ve kept your colours clean and vibrant and your tonal values work very well. Congratulations. It’s a very good painting.

  3. What a gorgeous painting Leslie. The horse nestles beautifully against the background creating a great contrast. You’ve also captured the movement perfectly, with the mane just catching the wind. Lovely piece of work.

    • Thank-you, Heather! Have you seen many of this breed of horse around where you live? Supposedly, the breed originated in the UK.

  4. aloha Leslie – you succeeded. i’d say you’re going to have to devise greater challenges for yourself. beautiful darks and rich lights against the mid range value of the background – yeah, that works. And a composition that stops the viewer spot on the subject while allowing exploration through out the work. . . you handle painting at this pace well. (i hope you dont mind me saying these things, as you clearly know what you’re doing) i’d say… just have fun pushing the areas you like exploring…

    • Thanks, Wrick. I do not mind your comments. I welcome them. Much of what I try are challenges I read in a book or hear another artist talk about.

  5. This is wonderful! It’s so strange, because when I look closely I see that there is hardly any black or white in the painting, but it looks like it from a distance. I’ve always loved horses in particular because I think they are so perfectly beautiful, and you’ve captured the beauty so well! I also like the color in the background very much!

    • Thank-you, Camilla for taking the time to look closely enough to see the different colors in the black and white. πŸ™‚ I think horses are gorgeous are gorgeous, also.
      Hope your exams are going fine!

  6. I’ve always loved horses and you captured this one beautifully. I love the muscle lines and your use of primaries to create the blacks and whites.

    • Thanks, Bree! I think the roundness of this mare and her musculature is what captured my interest first! Good eye!

  7. It’s easy to see why I am so inspired by you and your work, Leslie! This is an amazing example of your ability to create lively and vibrant art, while making it look as though it just flowed effortlessly from your fingertips. The beauty you created here is hard to even put words to! I am in awe of your talent and your amazing abilities. πŸ™‚

    • First of all, thank-you so much for your wonderful comment. You know I feel the same way about you inspiring me. I have even caught myself wondering, of an afternoon, if YOU are flying RIGHT NOW!…and wondering what you are seeing in color from way up there. πŸ™‚ You’ll have to paint us an aerial view someday, you know! πŸ™‚

  8. Wow, now i really am impressed.
    the pose of this horse is great.
    it’s looking really challenging

    • Thanks, Kokot. It is challenging to get these and have it read black……at least for me it is. πŸ™‚

  9. ah Leslie, the more I follow your blog the more I look forward to seeing what you will do next. You are not merely a talented artist, but a committed and hard working one. This is a wonderful painting. I love the movement, love how you created it, and love the creature that inspired it. I can feel the wind.

    • Thank-you so much Kirsty. I look forward to your visits. I had never heard of a “Gypsy Cob” before finding the reference photo for this on Wet Canvas. I had to try and paint her after I read about them.

  10. Leslie this is a lovely piece. So much detail, you’ve done a wonderful job.

  11. This painting has both strength and gentleness about it which is quite difficult to catch – though you’ve managed it very well Leslie! We were always told never to use black paint, how black ‘kills’ what it surrounds etc (Yes, I have a black background on my blog and I think it looks fine with the paintings πŸ™‚ ) I love the subtleness of the ‘whites’ and I can almost feel the wind blowing and ruffling her mane! Very sensitively rendered πŸ™‚ a lovely painting!

    • Thank-you, Lynda! I was told the same thing about black paint. When I have tried to use it, it always dries flat. I feel the same thing about any color without adding another color to it. I read, recently, about an artist that used only black watercolor to create night scenes and viewed a couple. They were good. I tried and mine looked like a mess. He must have built his up with tons of washes. I have used ink, before to get rich blacks, but then it is a mixed media. Such experimenting. Thank-you for making my day with a lovely comment! πŸ™‚

  12. Amazing, Leslie. Sense of motion and muscularity are captured so well. Your patience with feeding the colors was well worth it. Can’t wait to see what you paint next! Thanks for sharing your wonderful art.

    • Thank-you Adam! You encourage me to try more! I appreciate that, you know. πŸ™‚

  13. He is so pretty! Isn’t it fun to build colors, especially black, from primaries? I love what you did with black and with white. The white is delicate and sensitive, and the black is harmonized with the rest of the painting. Very nice!

    I never really tried to mix pigment on paper, I either do optical mixing (glazes) or mix on a palette until I like it. I think mixing on paper demands bravery and self assurance I don’t have.

    • Thank-you, Alex! I use both ways of mixing. However, I get a better sense of color when I allow the colors to mingle on the paper. You are kind to talk about bravery and self assurance in regards to this, but I have neither. I keep teling myself, “It’s only a piece of paper.”. When I do that, it gives me the impetous to be experimental.

  14. Wow beautiful. Horses are very difficult to do (well for me at least). Great painting love the background too. Great job super talented πŸ™‚ I love your blog πŸ™‚

    • Thank-you, Alonso! I was one of those girls in love with horses and started drawing them in kindergarten, lol! I need to include more of them, here, as they are such gorgeous animals.

  15. This artwork is amazing Leslie! I love the black and white and the pale pink hue sets it off beautifully.

    • Thank-you, Debbie. I just returned from sitting on your beach scene for awhile. Love it! I didn’t see that pink, at first, and then I squinted at the reference material and saw it. Go figure….I knew that there might be pinkish skin under white and it took me so long to connect.

  16. this wonderful creature moves…the muscles, the stride and wind…great flow!

    • Thank-you, JRuth! Those are the things that drove me to choose the reference for this. Looked like she was striding right off the page.

  17. No one does animals like you, I think.

    Love the fact that you mixed the paint on the paper and it never got muddy. The whites on the horse are perfect and the darks and blacks are spectacular!

  18. Leslie,
    I love this painting! Such strength portrayed in a powerful form but most of all I love the fact that I can feel the motion of stride in this beautiful horse. I think I’ll have to visit this painting again later when I have more time and see what happens ;).



    • πŸ™‚ Of course she may walk off the piece of paper before you get back. Thank-you for your comment, Stephen.

      • Leslie,
        Fortunately, she was still there πŸ˜€

        I’ve posted a poem on my blog that was inspired by this painting. Really lovely!



      • Thank-you so much, Stephen. It is a beautiful poem!

  19. Wow! You totally captured the diligence of the work horse with a light movement about him.

    • Thanks, Nancy! This may have awakened my interest to do horses again. Oh no! Remember all the drawings when I was little! LOL

  20. Your drawing skills are so strong, and you draw like a real painter draws (if you follow). Lovely work!

  21. I can feel the movement of the horse, it looks almost as free as the gypsies and a little cheeky too. Brilliant!

    • Thanks, Richard. She does look free and “cheeky”? Thank-you double!

  22. There is movement, calm and peace in this painting ! Wonderful ! I do not know how you do it ! BRAVO!

    • Thank-you, Isabelle! That means a lot on this one as I struggled. I fought with the background and thought I’d ruined it when I went to bed that night. When I woke the next morning, “voila”! I love watercolor…..just when you think you’ve botched it, it shows you why you like it.

  23. The Gypsy horse looks really lovely and alive. I can see how the horse sway and move. The dark tone of different colors mixed together create a really nice dark. I think i will try that someday.

    • Thank-you, Francis! At first, it was frustrating because I’d use too much yellow or too much red. So far I’ve found that putting some yellow, then red, then blue works pretty well.

  24. I love how you grabbed the sturdy, weighted down stance of this beautiful animal. He’s so believable in the swish of his tail and nape.
    Rendering white as white without using white is very tricky but apparently, not for you.
    Another terrific piece Leslie.

    • Thank-you, Bonnie. I am lucky when working with white, as a watercolorist. We just have to tone the areas of the white of the paper we have designed. I can not imagine what it might entail to paint white with oils. I admire your paintings!

  25. Challenge met! You really captured the horse’s movement, and your blacks and whites both sing!

    • Hi Anne! I was so happy to see that you were back that I immediately added you in my watercolor blogroll. I have missed you. Love your wild horses and was glad to know they are on the return! Thank-you for such a nice comment!

  26. stupendous!!!!

  27. Leslie, I just love this painting. I am a sucker for horses in any art form but this watercolor is just lovely. As a beginning painter, I am fascinated with all of the white tones, and love that you’ve explained how you achieved this. Thanks for sharing – it’s a great painting to appreciate and to learn from. -Laurie

  28. HOLY GOD! This horse looks like liquid grace and form and shy! Yes, you managed to convey everything, even a personality. Sweet, skilled beyond words.

    • Thank-you so much, Pat. Horses are a real love of mine. Spent many years with them. I found this horse called a “tinker horse” on the wet canvas site and researched the breed a little online. They are gorgeous. I have fun everytime I paint a horse.

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] PDRTJS_settings_1255482_post_475 = { "id" : "1255482", "unique_id" : "wp-post-475", "title" : "What%E2%80%99s+your+portrait+say%3F+-+Poem", "item_id" : "_post_475", "permalink" : "" } This poem was inspired by a painting from my friend Leslie White at Lesliepaints. You can see the painting here Gypsy Cob or β€œTinker Horse”. […]

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