The best way to insure a wonderful horse portrait is to start with the best possible reference materials. That starts with photography.

The best way to get all that information is for me to meet with you to photograph and observe your horse. The place of meeting is not as important as the opportunity for me to see and observe the animal.

If you would like a particular setting for the painting, that will also need to be photographed for reference. The best of all possible ideas is to photograph the horse in that setting. But photos of the horse and the location can be combined from separate materials.

Photography Services

When I meet with you to take photographs, I will also use the time to watch the horse move, observe personality and note any of those endearing quirks that make your horse special.

I will also be able to get a good, up-close look at coat color, including the color and temperature of highlights, and special markings. If necessary, I will also do a few life sketches to assist with detail work later.

This work will generally take an hour. During that time, you are welcome to make comments about the way your horse will be portrayed so the appropriate reference material can be gathered. If you have a particular idea in mind, by all means share it! New ideas are always welcome.

The basic charge for photography is $200 for the actual photography. If you live within 100 miles round trip of Newton, Kansas, or if you meet with us within that 50 mile radius, there will be no additional charges.

If the round trip is 100 miles or more, there will be travel charges of 50 cents per mile plus meals. If the trip requires more than one day to complete, lodging will also be charged.

If several people are interested in artwork and want to meet at the same place for photography, travel expenses can be divided among the participants to reduce the travel cost to each. Each person will still be charged the $200 basic fee.

If you have any questions, contact me. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have about photographs or any other part of the painting process.

Using Your Own Photographs

Your portrait can also be developed from existing photographs. This is especially important if the horse you want painted is deceased, is in poor health or is no longer accessible for other reasons. However, the quality of the finished portrait will still be largely determined by the number and quality of photographs you provide.

The more photographs you provide, the more options I will have for developing concept designs. Unless you have a photograph you want re-created as a portrait, the more photographs you send, the better.

Send any photographs you think will be helpful. Even if you will be getting a head study portrait, don’t choose photographs based solely on that feature. Some of the best head study portraits have been created from photographs that show the entire horse. Computers and software allow me to scan and crop excellent reference material from many different types of photographs. Don’t rule out those pasture or performance shots!

Good reference photos also:

  • Are well-lit
  • Taken outside in natural lighting
  • Show the horse close enough to show details. I can’t draw what I can’t see unless you want a generic horse
  • Include the halter, bridle, or other tack you want to be included in the portrait
  • Be free of photographic distortion (no huge heads and tiny bodies)

Make sure at least one photograph shows the true color of the horse and make sure you have marked that photograph.

Include a photograph of markings (blaze, snip, socks, other markings), if necessary.

If you cannot decide what type of portrait you would like, send as many photographs as possible and I will develop concept drawings showing a variety of ideas.

If You Want to Use a Professional Photographer’s Image

If you will be using the photographs of a professional photographer, you MUST also provide the express written permission of the photographer to use his or her work as a basis for your portrait. In most cases, photographers are very helpful in allowing their photographs to be used for reference material. In some cases, they will require a fee for the ‘right to use’ their photographs. This fee is NOT included in any of other portrait charges and can range anywhere from $20 to $150.

I cannot state this too clearly.

I honor the copyrights of other professionals and will not use professional photographs without the clear permission of the photographer.

I will make the contacts and the requests for the right to use professional photographs if you so desire.

What Happens Next

Whether I take the photographs or you provide them, once the photographs are in hand, the process is the same. I will review all available photograph, looking for those that best express your ideas for the portrait.

Then I will develop compositional sketches from the best photographs, and you will have the opportunity to choose the ones you like and/or make suggestions for new concepts.

The photographs will also be used in the development of the preliminary design and then the final portrait. If you provided print photographs, your photographs will be returned to you with the finished painting.