Double Portrait: A Young Woman and Her Horse

I love getting commissions from people I know. I rarely turn one down, because I know I’ll have access to draw from the model, take photos, and visit again if I need more visual information. I have found it also helps a painting when I have an understanding of the family’s background story, which often helps explain their request for a portrait.

My most recent commission was proposed by my dentist, as he poked around in my mouth after a recent cleaning. “Yack”, I said, trying to respond positively despite my mouth being wide open. He excitedly went on about his daughter, who he’s extremely proud of, and a horse they bought. He envisioned a painting of daughter and horse  together– but he wanted it to be a surprise. Immediately red flags appeared–(or was it just the task lamp glaring inches from my face?)  –as I tried to figure out how I would paint her alongside a horse if she would not be modelling for me.

I was lucky. He had taken a few photos of her last spring in her prom dress, posing with the new horse, which were decent. In November I visited the horse for more photos–by now his mane was grown long and he had put on more weight. I used parts of several different photos and put together this portrait. I finished it in time for Christmas. While I have yet to meet his daughter, I felt comfortable painting her with the little information I had in the photos. After all, I was once a sixteen year old girl who adored horses, too.

Painting of young woman and black horse by Nancy Lane

Serica and Buddy, Oil on panel, 18″ x 24″