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The Headless Horseman

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

As a child living in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, my father would take us kids on regular bushwalks. He made these walks magical by weaving stories into the experience. When we climbed over a fallen log we would become invisible. We would pass by the Faerie Dell and the giants toothbrush. We would walk along the headless horseman track.

As part of my Forest Series I painted a work called The Headless Horseman. Here is the process...

I had a bolt of fabric that was given to me, and being a fan of recycling I cut this into large segments which I then gessoed, to use as a surface to paint on. This particular segment is quite large, measuring 150cm high by 192cm wide. I lay this on the floor of my studio and began to lay down acrylic paint.

At this stage I am adding leftover paint from other projects to build up layers (I work on multiple paintings at once). The horse and rider are pre-planned, but the rest is intuitive.

At this point I pin the work to the wall.

It looks too dark so I decide to lighten the trees.

I drip paint from the trees to create a messy tangle of branches and peeled bark. I want the headless horseman to be partly hidden.

The finished work! Photo courtesy f Daniel A'Vard

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