Jul 16, 2014

Native American War Horse

I recently decided to paint a portrait of an "Indian Pony" as something different from my usual modern day western or English style horse portraits. Just like many of us today, the Native Americans of the old west prized the colorful spotted horses such as pintos and appaloosas. The pinto has sort of become an iconic symbol of the Native American horse. So I decided to use the pinto as my subject for the Indian Pony painting. I had planned on leaving it simple with just some feathers in the mane and a simple bridle. But when I was nearly finished I started wondering how it would look with war paint. I did a few mock-ups in Photoshop with a few different color variations of war paint to see how it would look. Here are my Photoshop images of war paint on the not-quite-finished painting:

I still couldn't decide if I wanted war paint or not. I shared this image on some social media sites and forums and asked people what they thought. It seemed to be pretty evenly split for and against war paint. That didn't help me decide. Haha!

The decision was finally made when someone told me they wanted to buy the painting and they liked it with war paint. Since it hadn't actually been painted yet, I let the buyer choose which color combination to go with. They chose the blue eye ring. I'm not sure if that's an authentic Native American war paint color for the eye ring or not, but I like that choice because there is blue in the background but no other blue in the picture. So adding that touch of blue to the horse ties it in nicely with the background. Here's the actual finished (not Photoshopped) version of the war-painted horse.

The original is (obviously) sold but Fine Art Prints of the painting are available here.

I also took a photo of the painting before the war paint was added, so if you prefer a the Indian Pony without war paint that version is also available as a Fine Art Print, here.

By the way, many people refer to the old west spotted horses as "paint horse" but they were actually pintos. Yes, both "pinto" and "paint" horses have the same type of markings. The difference is that "pinto" refers to coloring alone while a Paint Horse must also be of certain breed bloodlines and body type as defined by the American Paint Horse Association. So a Paint Horse is also a pinto, but a pinto isn't necessarily a Paint Horse. Since it's unlikely the Native Americans had registered their horses with the APHA, they were mostly riding pintos. :)

Anyway, that's all technicalities. If you'd like to read more about the color and breeds you can find a lot of interesting information on the APHA website.

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