Digital painting of a group of horses galloping through the American prairie

As has become customary on this website I’ll write briefly about what has been occurring with me personally before charging into writing what the subject matter of this composition is supposed to be. This past year has been a humbling experience. As previously mentioned in earlier posts to this website my mother died in January of last year, and later that year in May I was laid off unexpectedly from my job along with just about everyone else I worked with at Opera Software. I spent the better part of a couple of years working odd hours and taking care of my mother. I worked for a company where I was under an N.D.A., so projects I have worked on that have not been made public aren’t possible to be placed in my portfolio. That coupled with my near complete lack of time created a situation where I was left without a current portfolio for anything but illustration work when I seek employment in web design. Smart. Oddly enough I’m writing about this failing when adding yet another illustration piece in my portfolio, but work of a different variety is forthcoming.

“Libertad” is Spanish for “liberty” and “freedom”. Horses originally evolved on the North American continent and died out around the time humans arrived. The Spanish reintroduced the horse to North America, and their feral descendants are what we call mustangs today. The painting above depicts a herd of mustangs running through the Midwestern United States with the Rocky Mountains in the far distance. “Libertad” felt like a good name to pick both because of the history of the mustang and because running horses in the open plains always evokes a feeling of freedom to me.


Late last year my sister asked if I would fulfill a favor a mutual friend asked of her. This favor involved painting a triptych of horses for their living room; I agreed. My instructions were to use turquoise and a reddish brown like burnt sienna as dominant colors as they were the color scheme used in their living room. Those two colors are a good choice as red and cyan are complementary colors.

The color palette I used for Libertad
Libertad’s color palette

There’s not a mistake here. Burnt sienna has intentionally taken the place of a red on the color wheel. As the instructions were to use turquoise and burnt sienna I chose to desaturate all other colors on the wheel to make those two colors stand out more. I base my color choices off of real paint tube colors when painting. This comes from my background in traditional painting, so even the dull colors in the color gamut do not have a base that is fully saturated. Yellow is lemon yellow; green is permanent green light; blue is ultramarine, and so forth. I’ve been asked before, “Why do you limit yourself to just these colors?” My answer comes from my education in graphic design. Design is about limitations; you cannot design something without constraints. I look at my paintings and illustrations the same way. They are graphic design just as much as the layout of this webpage is.

One of the many sketches I did for Libertad
One of the many sketches I did for Libertad

I was told to paint a triptych of horses with those two colors, and that was it. Above, the sketch was divided into thirds; I kept that in mind during the entire process; and eventually it was printed in three parts as well.

Progress video, showing the different stages of the progress of painting Libertad

Libertad was printed in three parts, each 24​ × 24​ (60.96 cm × 60.96 cm) and should be framed shortly.