I will be devoting some of my posts here to the connection I see between painting horses en Plein air, (from life), and horsemanship. There is a strong bond that develops between horse and human with horsemanship. With in this relationship of respect and trust is a level of awareness that is most frequently called, "feel". Tom Dorrence, Ray Hunt, and Bill Dorrence with Leslie Desmond talk about it in their books. I learned about it during my journey with my Percheron, Comanche. When he came into my life he was 15 months old, 300 pounds underweight and his feet were in bad shape. From his view, humans did not have much to offer him. Getting a halter on him was hard, picking up his feet was impossible. These very basic tasks required breaking the learning down into simple steps that he could learn.
The way I approach a Plein air painting, has a connection to the way I view horsemanship. When I am setting up my easel, I have a feeling of purpose and clarity. I am present, with all of my energy on my subject. I watch the horse that I am going to paint. The position of the ears, look in the eyes, the level of tension that might be present around the mouth or in the neck. When I make the first drawing on canvas in thin paint, I am very aware of the placement of the feet, and the position of the head and neck.
As I continue with the painting, I focus on the horses personality. I want to know "who" I am painting. This connection and understanding of the horse, translates into the colors that I use and the "life" expressed by the horse. The light shining on the coat, the cool shadows and reflected light, add a feel of life to the painting that reaches out to the viewer, making another connection.