Civil War Soldier in Oils

29 Aug

Dear readers,

I’m sorry to have been scarce lately.  I haven’t been on my computer much lately.  Anyhow, here I am with something new.

I’m trying to get in the habit of painting regularly, and though it is a challenge, I do enjoy it.  Practice can only help, right?

I felt like trying my hand at painting something that told a story this time.  I wasn’t sure what to paint until I got a Civil War magazine from my grandpa.  He and I share this interest, so he often sends his Civil War magazines along to me when he’s done reading them.  I flipped open the newest one and saw a photograph of a man with a sword and a bugle on horseback.  It was a powerful image and, rather on a whim, I decided to paint it.

As might be expected, the photograph was sepia, somewhat blurred and grainy, and of course, very old.  Nonetheless, I wanted to paint it.

Oils are forgiving, that’s the good news.  I had to make many corrections as I painted this.  It took some hard work and a lot of research to try to make the details of the soldier and the horse’s tack look right.  I enjoy research very much, so that part wasn’t so bad.

I did this painting, just like my other recent oils, with only three colors, Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue, plus white.  I use these colors thanks to an art instructor who was willing to help show the way to oil painting.  He suggested I start with these colors and see how many colors can be mixed from them.  How amazing that so many colors can be made from this basic palette!

“Civil War Soldier on Horseback”

-16×20 inches in size, painted on a canvas board.

-Painted with oil paints.  Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and White.

-Brushes used were mostly Brights and Flats, as well as a couple of Fan Brushes for the soft background textures and a Dagger Brush for the grasses and the leather reins and straps.

-This took 10-15 hours approximately to paint.

I’ll show you the WIP images first before showing the final result.

And here is the finished painting.

A few close-ups.

Thanks for looking.  Have a great day. 🙂


Posted by on August 29, 2012 in All Artwork, Paintings


6 responses to “Civil War Soldier in Oils

  1. zorgor

    August 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Impressive! (as usual) And I remember you talking about being hesitant with color! Doesn’t look like you are anymore! It is amazing that this was done with just those 4 colors.

    Not much to that ‘scabbard’ huh? Hope the horse doesn’t get cut or stabbed! What is a bright brush?

    • Jenna

      August 31, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      Thanks very much, Zorgor. Well, I’m still a bit wary of color…hard to break old habits. I just wanted to make myself do more in color, so here is the result. Each painting has helped me learn a lot about color and also about the nature of paint and which brushes do what. I too am amazed at the array of color that can come from these basic colors. It’s rather exciting!

      No indeed about that scabbard. It’s likely incorrectly painted. The reference image I used looked for everything like there were just a couple of metal clasps holding the sword in place. But when I look online, I found a very close match to what was in the old photograph, and it looks that way, but the scabbard is there…the reason it threw me off is because it is as silver as the sword itself. Interesting point you brought up! Thanks for mentioning it. Perhaps I should fix it. 🙂

      A bright brush is not inlike a flat brush. It’s nice and stiff and is great for laying in a thick amount of paint in a few strokes. Here is a link to bright paint brushes…

      The description of a bright brush as given by…

      Flat ferrule, short-length hairs, usually set in a long handle. Width and length of brush head is about equal. Useful for short, controlled strokes, and with thick or heavy color.

      Thanks again for the comments. I appreciate it so much. 🙂

      • zorgor

        August 31, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        I see what you mean about the metal scabbard — I did not see it at first. I think it would be very difficult to paint it so they both look like metal, but so you can still tell them apart. I guess I’d be studying a photo that shows that, but that would probably be in an indoor setting… Yeah, I dunno. I’d just paint it leather brown, but you seem to like challenges like this. 🙂

        So it sounds like a bright brush is just a stiffer flat brush?

  2. Jenna

    September 1, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Painting the scabbard brown is a good idea. In some way, I should try to fix the scabbard to look like it, well, is actually there! 🙂 I do love a challenge!

    Very much so, yes. A bright is great for oil paints because it can hold a lot of paint and it can push it around the canvas much easier than a softer brush. I never used to use them, but now I like them a lot.

    Thanks again for the nice comments!

  3. Inspired and pretty

    September 4, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    It’s a very beautiful painting 🙂 There was a lot to paint, many details. I loved seeing the close-ups, I’m always amazed at all the details in your drawings and paintings. I think you’re doing very good with colours ! It must have been a lot of research to find the right colours for the uniform, hat and boots.
    I give you an A+ for this painting ! 🙂

    • Jenna

      September 5, 2012 at 2:55 PM

      Thank you, Jocelyne! Yes, it took a lot of layers, not to mention trial and error, to get through this painting. I am a detail freak, so I really rather enjoy the details. It’s definitely a challenge with a paintbrush though. I’m still not quite used to painting, so it was an interesting experience. Yes, I did have to do a fair amount of research. Civil War history is something I have studied in the past, so it wasn’t completely unfamiliar, but it was tricky at times. Thank you! I appreciate the encouragement very much. 🙂


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