It Looks Quite Different

Once I photograph a painting or drawing, it actually looks quite different to my eye in a small digital image to what I am seeing when I’m working on it.

This is like the little tricks of holding your painting upside down, or offering it to the mirror (love that phrase “offering up the shelf to the wall”, as though it is a gift that might be rejected, as though the wall has opinions and as though there is a subtle exchange of something rather esoteric yet out of our control – and all the other emotionally complex issues involved in offering and receiving) to see what needs doing next.
“Offering” your work to the camera is another way to understand any visual conundrums or difficulties a piece of work may have.

So here is a charcoal painting of one of our local feral Lownthwaite Fell ponies. Its another piece I’m finishing for C-Art, Cumbria’s Open Studio event that I have taken part in since its inception. There is a website if you want more information:
For more about the Fell ponies (its actually really interesting!) go here:

This image was drawn in response to a photograph taken by a lovely girl whom I was helping work towards her Art exam. The pony clearly has seen her and is in the flight response, which is so swift to kick in with these ponies. They live a feral life on the fells up here in Eden, owned and bought, sold and bred – yet as they have thousands of wild acres to roam around in, they are also lucky enough to live in a stable herd, wander the twenty or so miles a day that Nature intended, and retain their “wildness”.
We often ride up there ourselves; the fell starts at the very edge of the village, and it’s always a bit special meeting the Fell ponies. Our horses and they, sniff and do a bit of aquaintancing, whilst we know that if there is the possibility that things might get a bit too exciting, we can shift the whole herd away literally by our flick of our fingers – so switched on are their responses as they would turn, spin and plunge away.

And this picture? Well it IS a work in progress – and immediately I can see that I need to make the head smaller, the eye needs to be more obvious, the right forelimb and shoulder need work (too large, bad shape and looking flat) and the ears need changing.
Strange how it is more difficult to see these things when the picture is in front of you. You can see them, but the mirror/upside down/photograph methods are much more insistent and quicker!

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