Second Chances

“This is a portrait of a young friend’s first horse whom she has given a second chance at life,” says Caitlin Leline Hatch. “The horse’s story resonated with me, as I feel I’ve been given a second chance at my art after taking 10 years off to focus on raising my children. A part of me felt a deep loss when I gave up painting and I never knew if I’d find the space to do it again. I feel this is my second chance, too — emerging from the ashes.  

“Phoenix Rising” (watercolor, 15 x 22 in.)

“I work wet-into-wet and start from the middle of my surface and work outward from there. This allows me to have a lot of time and control while painting the head of the horse. I can re-wet the back of the paper over and over again, which keeps the paint on the front wet so I can push and pull the paint around much longer than a more traditional approach. If I’m in a pinch and the front is drying too quickly I use a fine mist spray bottle and gently mist the area I’m working on, which activates the paint again without distributing what’s already there. 

“When I started on the neck and body area of the horse I tried to use quicker brushstrokes and let my intuition lead the way. I ended up using a regular spray bottle here, because I was overworking that area. However,  things had dried too much that small blooms started happening, but it was just the right ratio of wet to dry and it ended up looking like ashes falling off the horse. Since the name of this horse is Phoenix, my story became clearer with this effect and I went with it. I slowly added more “ashes” up the neck, but had them get smaller and smaller as they moved closer to towards the head. Had I not let my emotional self take over this process I might never have grabbed the spray bottle!”

“Phoenix Rising” was awarded Best Western in the December 2022 PleinAir Salon competition.

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.


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