Princess of Sylmar, 24" x 36" canvas
Collection of Ed & Ina Stanco
Michelangelo said, "A painting is the best of all the Arts because it 'gives' every moment of every day. A favorite book gets read and shelved away; and a musical or acting performance--no matter how spectacular--ends in short order. A good painting goes on a wall and it's there, to be enjoyed, for years. Later, they often become heirlooms." All true.
At completion, you'll be surprised at how it becomes the conversational piece of your collection. For some reason, people are drawn to the history, excitement and romance of the Thoroughbred racing game.
How is a high-quality painting produced? Over the years, many have been taken aback to hear the process. In reality, like all competent artists, I have a distinct and disciplined formula.
The erroneous assumption is that artist's are born with a certain "gift from God," and magically turn out paintings without a glitch. There are certainly abstract artists who work on flights of inspiration, but for a "representational", or "realistic" artist, such as myself, to be highly successful, nothing could be further from the truth.
My paintings are labor intensive; I affectionately call them enjoyable misery. Each is a blend of sound draftsmanship and precise, academic painting techniques. An analogy could be made that my preparation is similar to that of a movie producer. My goal is to "strike the eye" and captivate, so prior to beginning, I must compile every "prop" necessary in order to be successful.
In each composition I strive to satisfy line, color, form, contrast, perspective, symmetry, texture and harmonious balance. And all of this needs to be compiled within the parameters of its story and content.
I'm also a narrative (storytelling) artist, and as such, rely on photographs as a reference tool. Most of my work documents riveting and historical moments in sport, and many times they include people. As such, it's impossible to not use photos for reference; it'd be negligent to take liberties with the likenesses of my subject matter. This noted, I rarely paint verbatim from a photos. I use photos for guidance and historical accuracy.
~ Anatomy of a Painting ~
Obviously, the process begins with a subject. If it's a horse, when possible, I prefer to see it in person. Reason being, from a true color standpoint, photos have a tendency to lie. Color can easily be affected by fluctuations in photo processing. What's more, any leg and facial markings can be covered up within ten strides by racetrack dirt. It's always advantageous to visit a horse when possible; it's the best way to capture his total personality.
When portraying a racing scene, I also prefer to see a video of the race and any pictures available from the race at the wire. This helps me comprehend the stride pattern of the horse. It also allows me to recapture the background, weather from that day, and other facets, like saddle towel details.
Final Word on Photo Reference: If visiting your horse is not practical, I can work from your photos, providing that they're clear and high-quality shots. If the pictures were taken by a professional, contact me, first. Though I never paint directly from a photo, everyone owns the copyright to their shots. Photographers are artists too, and I hold the highest respect for their efforts. I'll describe for you how to procure a letter of release from the photographer.
~ Illustration and Painting Steps ~
After obtaining the horses' color and body-markings and still photo and video reference, I then determine the format and size: Would the composition be better served as a vertical or horizontal design?
Paint medium is rarely a concern. I don't have a specialty, per se. I'm well versed in oils, acrylics or a mixed-media of professional watercolor and gouache. I give my clients what they prefer. My preference for art intended for print reproduction are the paints from the water soluble families--acrylics, gouache and watercolor. Their inherent properties allow the achievement of certain effects which are unattainable with oils.
Substrate: For oils and acrylics, I'll paint on either canvas, linen, or treated hardboard. For water-based paints I use the highest quality watercolor board available.
The composition is first drawn on a small sheet of paper to work out design. When I'm happy with it, I make a full scale preliminary drawing on heavy paper. This is a contour line drawing which is fully accurate, but done only in a pencil outline.
Once I'm satisfied and my client signs off on the actual-size pencil drawing, I place it on top of my watercolor board or canvas and transfer it down through light pressure. It's basically the old carbon copy process. This process allows me to paint on a virgin surface. Brightness and purity of color is very important to me, so working out design problems on a different surface, first, permits me to paint on an uncontaminated final surface.
Due to the intricacy and detailed nature of my work, I can produce no more than 4 paintings a year. Each painting requires, on average, 3 months work. This said, if adequately compensated, I will -- and have -- worked 'round the clock to complete a painting in 3 weeks. Provided I have the time within my schedule, I have no qualms with meeting a short deadline. I recognize it's sometimes necessary to reach a deadline for a wedding anniversary, Father's Day or birthday gift and having a painting done was a last-minute idea. I'll do my best to accommodate your time request.
I'm flattered by your interest. If you'd like for to me paint for you, please e-mail or call me directly. We'll discuss timeline and all details as they pertain to your desires.
- Michael Geraghty
301. 602. 4385
email: mgArts31 @ gmail. com