Date: July 20, 2014
This painting took a lot of pre-planning because I had taken more than 500 photos of Vento and Elli. After much consideration I selected 3 photos to use as reference. The main one was the portrait of Elli in the foreground; that photo also provided much of the background. I used a second photo to show Vento being ridden by Melinda. And then for balance and an added splash of color, I used a third photo as a guide to the jumping fences and flowers shown on the right-hand side of the painting. This left a fairly empty stretch of sand in the middle, but I deliberately left it that way so as to not distract from Vento in the background. I eliminated the bits of poles and fences that were in the original photos with Elli and Vento.
In this stage of the painting several hours have already elapsed. I first sketched the outlines of the main elements, transferred them to the watercolor paper, and then painted the sky and the background trees. The red Santa Fe dirt can be seen, with the outlines of the fence and horse/rider preserved as blank paper.