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The photo reference for this painting came from the photo reference library on wet canvas. A student of mine found the photo and offered it to me to try.  Thank you, Henn!

Due to lack of time to paint, recently, I have been working on these two horses for about a month of short sessions. I decided to try 140 lb Hot Press paper due to the detail in the wood grain and because I wanted something a little more realistic. I am still a novice with hot press paper but like it for painting horse portraiture. What intrigued me the most about this scene were the shapes; the straight mechanical lines against the organic lines of the horses’ heads.  This portrait was painted in layers. I painted the background areas right along with the horses’ heads. That helped me to be able to see the values and save my light areas. The most difficult part for me was the wood.


  1. These are beautiful, Leslie…my favorites of yours so far.

    • Wow. Thank you for this compliment, Deb! 🙂

      • Oh my, I meant “yours,” not “you.”….lol
        These are so nice though, I had to come back for another look! 🙂

      • 🙂 Ha! I knew what you meant. I fixed it.

  2. Leslie, this is beautiful. I love the contrasts, and how you’ve done so much with a limited palette, but even more I love the sense of relationship between the horses. Well titled!

    • I thought about that relationship, also, Anne. I have the horse on the left pegged as a gelding and the one on the right a mare. My story goes a little furthur. I noticed how the horse on the left has had his ears clipped and the one on the right does not. I noted the difference in the shapes of their heads and wonder if this is a picture of a thoroughbred and its pony who leads him to post on race day. They definitely know each other because their ears aren’t slicked back. 🙂 Thank you!

  3. This is wonderful, Leslie! It would make a nice anniversary card for the people who’s wedding invitation you did with horses. I am remembering that right, am I not? I love when you do horses and the wood is super!

  4. Oh Les,
    I love these equines. There is such a joyous essence around the mates.

    • Thank you, Nancy! Your comment helps. I had a bit of a time getting the twist of the neck on the horse on the right and the horse on the left appeared so gentle and I tried to pull that off.

  5. As you know, I don’t know much about horses and mostly they scare me because they are so big. But this painting makes them look like two horses in love. I can almost feel the emotion between them. They are sweet and loving and I don’t think I would be afraid of them in real life! I also think you did an excellent job on the wood grain. This is really beautiful.

    • I think these two know each other pretty well. You are probably right about these looking less scarey just because they really are behind closed stall doors. 🙂 I think honest fear of something larger than ourselves is a good thing especially if we are not taught how to move around that large animal. Horses can hurt someone without even intending to. I used to teach beginners to ride and found that one of the things that frightened them the most was when a horse would stomp a hind leg to shake a fly from it, or turn around, quickly and nip at one on their side or shoulder. I imagine both those movements would appear pretty frightening if one did not know what the horse was really doing. Thank you, Carol!

  6. Wonderful horses! And lovely job on those delicate bits on the stall locks and halters. Beautiful job on those noses with their complicated pink/gray/brown mix. I’ve never had horses – probably never will – but I do love them, in art and in person. I should practice and do more horses. And donkeys. Equines are so beautifully majestic.

    • Thank you for this comment, Cindy. The noses were fun. I actually practiced them, separately on a scratch piece of watercolor paper before attempting them, here. You do fantastic work with animals. I really admire your work with cats and llamas! Your slinky cats are the best!

  7. Lovely. They become so attached.

  8. This is magnificent Leslie! I always wonder what the animals must be thinking in their minds whenever I come across them, they have no words to express but they do convey their emotions in their own way, this is as if there are words coming out from one to another! I loved the title too, hope they remain together for ever.

    • I, like you, feel there are no words except I have been around horses so much that I watch their ears and eyes and other body languages. The one on the left with his ears positioned to the side tells me he is saying to the other, “I mean you no harm.” I think he is saying hello or good morning. The other, on the right, with ears straight forward, accepts the greeting. Ears slicked back along the neck always means “beware”, “stay away” or better yet, “I don’t like you”. That signal may even be accompanied with flared nostrils. Painting images can be so much fun, like capturing a moment in time. You are so good at that, capturing a story, Padmaja. So, thank you for this comment. You honor me.

  9. Oh how beautiful! I love the composition of this piece and you’ve painted these big lovely animals so perfectly!

    • You saw the same thing in this as I did, Sherry. The composition in the photo was alluring. It was just a matter of rendering the shapes with the right amount of value to pull it off. I worked hard on those rectangles of darks behind each horse’s head. The one behind the palomino on the right was a warm and hazy dark and the one behind the sorrel horse on the left was very dark. I also liked the wavy organic lines of the horses against the straight ones of the stall partitions. Thank you so much! 🙂

  10. Awesome!

  11. A beautiful and warm painting, Leslie. I love that sense of being together, maybe friendship.

  12. Leslie, this is really special. You obviously have a real feel for horses and love painting them. Shiny coats, flicking manes, you have captured it all. I do not use hot press very often but you used it very well and the woodgraining is nicely done.

    • I do love horses. I remember an instructor telling me, years ago, to paint what I know. I think that is what the horses are for me. I make myself paint other subjects because I think it helps me to “see” better, those things I’m not accustomed to. Thank you for this great comment, Linda.

  13. These horses look like they would be happy in Kentucky!

    • I think they would or, better yet, wonder if the horse on the left “IS” a thoroughbred and the one on the right a track pony (horse that carries the rider who leads the racehorse to the gate). 🙂 Thank you!

  14. Such a very beautiful painting.

  15. Ahhh…. what a master you are. They are stunning !

  16. This is so sweet. It makes me miss my sweet Lady whom I lost almost a year ago.

    • I am sorry for your loss, Ruth. I do know how that still feels long after. Horses are great companions. Thank you for this comment.

  17. BEAUTIFUL!!!

  18. I would buy this one to hang in my living room, reminds me of Caly and Dutchess!

    • I’ll have to do it over! 🙂 Maybe we could work on getting a good picture of the two of them and that would be even better ( once they shed those winter coats, though! ). Thank you for the comment!

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