I’ve painted so many racehorses over the years that I’ve lost count, but very few of them have been in lipstick. The detail and control required in depicting the muscling and veins beneath their shiny coats is a challenge in a loose medium like lipstick, which is why I don’t do it often.
But there are always exceptions, and I’ve painted the great Australian racemare, Black Caviar, as well as the brilliant Frankel, probably the best horse we’ve seen in many years.
Today I painted American Pharoah. Becoming the first horse to win the US Triple Crown in 37 years is a rare achievement, and it inspired me to pick up my lipsticks for the first time since being back from Japan and Hong Kong.
American Pharoah doesn’t have the prettiest face, but he has a kind eye, and I started with a reference photo which emphasizes this. I add in the dark colours, work in the rest, highlight with coral and orange, and then use earbuds and a pen for the detail.
If I were to paint American Pharoah again, I’d bring in the blue and yellow of the Zayat Stables silks – now that I have lipsticks in these colours thanks to friends based overseas, this won’t be quite such a challenge.