Three Bars TB - head close up of painting. The oil painting of Three Bars commissioned by Walter Merrick was 30" X either 36 or 40." This is a close up of the detail of the face. On the original this area of the painting was about 2" tall.
Walter wanted Three Bars to have a full mane, yet somewhere in his past his bridle path had been trimmed. When it grew out, the bridle path hair never co-mingled with the rest of the mane. In his tail Three Bars had a white tail root. If you opened up his tail hair it was white on the inside. When he would switch his tail, with close observation, you would see white. He was not a roan, but there were a few dark patches of dark chestnut, a different tone than his bright red chestnut color. He had a few white hairs in his hide, almost not noticeable.
I used to be a member of the Cowboy Artists of America and enjoyed carefully viewing the master's work like Robert Loughheed, Frank McCarthy, Brown L. McGrew, Tom Ryan and Melvin Warren. Then there were painters who were fakers. If you don't know horse anatomy the horse people don't appreciate you. Some of the signs of a "faker" reveal themselves with the draftsmanship of hands, eyes, feet and muscle definition. When I see an artist painting horses in deep grass, I know he is scared of his skills on feet. Same with faces. When an artist turns a cowboy's head away, to not have to paint a face, it tells you something.
Eyes are hard, but every artist has to research and study the light and shapes and not run from the hard stuff. Many people would photograph just the heads on my full body horse paintings and make 20" X 24" enlargements. It appeared as if they actually had separate paintings. The world's greatest horsemen were going to view my paintings -- it was not a "faking" event -- they knew.
Author: Darol Dickinson