David Paton artist

Equine / Horse Paintings

Horse paintings in oils

My favourite horse paintings scenes are horse racing art, hunting scenes and hacking out scenes with magnificent landscapes in the background. If I am not painting from real life, I can paint any horse painting scene,  all  I need is good photographic references. I can work out the tonal values, light direction and correct horse’s anatomy myself.  To make a good horse painting successful and look accurate you need as many horse painting reference photos as possible. Of course the best background would be real life  with the landscape you want.  I will need a helper to hold the horse of course and both horse and rider well turned out.

Horse Illustration Pen and ink on Watercolour Paper

My second style is a more illustrative style using pen and ink. I love to draw and paint the anatomy of horses and produce figurative illustrations. This was due to years of practice of drawing soldiers on horse back as a child rather than concentrating in class!. Part of my technique to produce good horse art is to make it look effortless. Often at the end of a days hunting I will sketch an incident I saw on the field to record the idea. Once I and happy with the concept I will search my files for a more accurate photo to help portrait my idea. I will then draw a pencil sketch on water colour paper of the horse I want to portrait and then ink it in.

To accomplish this you have to work fast and confident, so I make make there or four sketch drawings on water colour paper before I am happy with which concept to ink in. Once I am happy with the scene I ink in the scene with pen and ink. I then lightly apply the watercolour in light colours on top of the pen an ink illustration to bring even more impact to my horse painting.

My major influence and favourite sporting equine artist is illustrator Charles Johnston Payne AKA “Snaffle’s” . This was his pen name and he is known for producing incredible horse prints full of character. Nearly every scene I see today happening on the field he has drawn in the most skilful way. His horse print’s tell a story about the rider and horse in the most using just simple Pen and ink lines. Like him I also use pen and ink to illustrate my horse paintings on watercolour paper. The big advantage of using water colours to produce horse paintings being that it is quick and easy to add specific details that would normally take weeks to produce in a matter of hours. So if you horse painting budget is tight you should consider getting a illustration, tailored made and drawn to your requirements. They also make superb horse prints to raise funds or good give as presents.


My two horse painting styles. One is using the traditional academic technique of oil on canvas the other is using pen and ink with watercolours on paper. When painting horses and rider portraits it is the preferred preferred technique to use oils. With oils you can quickly capture capture the colours of a horse’s coat and rider using a variety of techniques and its fast. I also use a palette knives to give the horse paintings a more contemporary feel. This process of marking gives a more stylistic approach. It also allows me to make a more fluid strokes with brushes in a spontaneous manner and achieve the sort of mark on the canvas I want. With a combination of Palette knives and brushes my horse paintings become more dramatic and atmospheric I like to get away form the staid academic approach, to equine art and achieve a more contemporary fresh approach

This process is used every day by many political cartoonists who produce stunning imaginative work which no camera can ever evoke. Watercolours combined with pen and ink are ideal for making equestrian horse prints and paintings based on humours events and any form of sporting equine scene. It also allows the artist to be more flexible in a way horse painting in oils cant. It is the ideal medium for you to commission horse art as it allow’s the artist to include other interests the rider may have.

You can purchase a print or commission your own horse paintings by contacting the artist by +353 (0)86 812 0910 david@paragondesign.ie


“ I love my horse painting of the foals set in the Landscape of the Somerville parklands. David caught the atmosphere of the mare and foal in paddock amongst the tress superbly ” .

Richard and Patricia Beattie, Somerville Balrath, Co Meath,

“ I wanted something different, I already have a large collection of traditional horse paintings and prints all over my walls. So, David’s interpretation of a Point to point was very different, it did not look to horsey and at the same time was bright modern bright contemporary” .We then reproduced it as horse print to raise funds for the Club and it was an instant success.

Tom Cosgrove, Straffan, Co Kildare,

“ We have an eclectic collection of painting’s and to be honest I did not really need another horse painting. Buy when I saw Davids amazing painting of War of Attrition, I had to have it. The painting shoes horse’s anatomy brilliantly, but it is the style in which he has painted the horse and rider that is amazing. No background, just the horse, fully stretched out jumping a fence in mid air, Magic.

Sara Mc Donald, Ardee, Co Louth,

“ I am mad about hunting, it is my passion and the characters that go with it. In the illustration David did for us, he has some how managed to include my 86 year old Mother, Father, Sister, friends and myself in this incredible illustration. He has caught the scene brilliantly and we turned it into a print so everyone gets a copy. Very reasonable price for an original piece of art.

Anne Laidlaw McFarland , Derry, Northern Ireland.

“ Who would have though you could make a horse painting creative said my wife, but when she saw David’s work she was gobsmacked. He has combined his love of landscape painting into an incredible equine scene. We then reproduced it as horse print to raise funds for the Club and it was an instant success.

Peter Woods, Danestown, Co Meath.

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