Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I haven't painted a rose grey in a loooong time. I used to paint them with a sort of generic "rose grey" formula that I would tweak a bit for different shades, and while it worked fine, it didn't allow for all the different variations in color tint on the body, let alone between horses. My painting has changed a lot since then, so I have decided it's time to tackle the color again. I'll be doing a little chronicle of my painting journey with this one not only to keep notes for myself, but to share here and hopefully inspire as well. Let's get started!

The reference I am working from has a subtle color range from raw sienna and naples yellow areas to deeper reddish brown smudges. Instead of making the "rose grey" color, I mixed up a similar shade of bay and altered it to suit the rosy shift. Right now I think it looks a little too pink, but I'm hoping that further layers will help deepen and bring out the individual colors. So far I have been basecoating in oils, just working on blocking in the color zones. The picture above shows two layers, and I may do a third more detailed layer before moving on to step 2 of my plan.

The next stage will involve mapping in the dappling with either white charcoal, pastel pencil or my trusty Derwent drawing pencil. I would like to try charcoal first since I haven't tried it before and I have hopes that it will do this sort of work better than the drawing pencil. I may do some powdered pigment at that time as well. From there, I may finish the horse off in oils using a similar technique to the palomino pinto Tango I did a couple years ago, but only time will tell!


Marianna said...

What happens if you forget to do the ajax/comet bath? Does that mean you should strip the primer and start over?

Marianna said...

Ooops...I meant to post this question under your last tip. Derrrrrr...

Mel Miller said...

No problem! Scrubbing the model clean before primering helps to get rid of body oils, mold release and dust that might cause a paint job to slough off. It's not guaranteed that a paint job will go bad without the scrubbing, and it's not guaranteed that a paint job will be perfectly safe with it. By doing the cleaning you increase the odds that the paint job will be fine, so it's always a good step to take just in case.

You can strip the primer, but if it's adhering with absolutely no problem, you might be better off leaving it as is. It is a risk though!

Becky Turner said...

hey mel,
I also use the derwent pencil for dapples and I just got some white charcoal pencils and they work nice but are not as dark and they can dust off really easy so if you are blending you may like the derwent better..I do.. Im doing a dapple gray right now and I tried the white charcoal and I keep going back to the derwent! lol in fact its so small I finally had to order more from dick blick.. and I didn't have one gray color pastel pencil so I also got about 5 different shades of greys while I was at it.. but its fun to see how you do a rose grey..I just did my 2nd and I do it so different than you do! I used teh derwnet for the dapples but pastels and pure pigments for the rest including the base coat.. I have an airbrush and used to use that for base coats but Im liking sometimes just using the pastels for dappled coats..if the horse is bay or chestnut I think I will still do the base with the airbrush.. but.. I love to learn new techniques though!I really would like to see more on how you do oils.. I have one in oils im working on....his base is on with oils but I want to do the shading with the pigments.. so, I'll be watching! thanks for doing this..
Becky Turner

Mel Miller said...

Hi Becky! Yeah, for the last couple of years I've been doing greys in pencil and powdered pigment as well. I got the charcoal on him yesterday, so I'll have an update on that soon!