Size Relationships

Why is it I have trouble determining what should be bigger or smaller in a painting? It’s easy if there is a perspective component; if an object is in front of or behind another object. I’m working on a sleigh with two horses at the moment and the size of the hooves has been a problem. It may be because I’m not used to drawing horses or perhaps these particular horses have big feet. I have enlarged the hooves of these horses three times. Actually they do have big feet, they are draught horses. Not Clydesdales or Percherons but they definitely have big feet. Not that I know much about horses. Just look up draught (or draft) horse breeds on Wikipedia. There are hundreds of them.

I take heart that I’m not the only one to have such problems. Horses drawn by some old English artists have petite feet (and often heads). I think it was a bit of a style back then but it may have come about because of difficulties judging the relative size. Some of these paintings, old masters or not, are beautiful.

This doesn’t seem to be as difficult with portraits. I think it’s because we are so used to looking at people. Apparently monkeys can easily recognize all of their own troop. To me they all look the same. Jane Goodall could apparently recognise all of the chimpanzees that she was observing. Regardless I have difficulty judging the relative sizes of various body parts of various animals. I expect I would improve if I painted a bunch of horses. In the meantime I’ll continue with my old standby: if it looks wrong, change it.

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