Unicorn, Step By Step


Unicorn 001

Unicorn 001

Acrylics and glitter, 16×20.

Colors: Green-yellow, hooker’s green, permanent green light, crimson, ultramarine blue, magenta, mars black, titanium white, glitter in a glaze medium.

Brushes: large flat and large round, 10 filbert, 1/4″ angled brush.

I haven’t posted in a long time, and I apologize to my followers (both of you). I’ve been having a tough time, and a lot of transitions. Blah blah… but here I am.

So, unicorns… I hope in the future to create more of an online presence to sell paintings. I’ve thought about what will sell beside naked Goddesses, and since I paint mythological and folkloric subjects anyway, I thought I’d paint some mythical beasts. And I thought I’d start with some unicorns.

Really it began because I was at a friend’s house for the holidays (Christi Swing, whose music I have posted here), and she was certain her boyfriend was going to make her a unicorn as a gift. I knew he was not (although the gift he was making her was pretty awesome). One of the guests in the house had some paints and canvas sitting out, so I borrowed materials and painted her a unicorn to ward off dissapointment:


I liked the painting, and it gave me ideas. Paint unicorns!

So for the current unicorn, I started with a background of green-yellow and magenta (pardon the shadow falling across the photo):


When that had dried, I began to shape the unicorn’s head and neck, using several horse photos. I used a blend of crimson and ultramarine, which I used throughout the painting process.


A note here on the subject of unicorns: Americans have come to visualize unicorns as horses with a single horn. However, if you look at classical examples such as the unicorn tapestries hanging in the Cloisters, you will often see unicorns portrayed as having goat-like features. Mythologies from throughout the world have included antelope unicorns, goat unicorns, and deer-like unicorns. For this painting I chose the features of a horse.


The goat-like unicorn portrayed in the medieval Unicorn Tapestries on display at the Cloisters museum in New York City.

Let’s go on with the painting: I began shading out areas of light and dark, using ultramarine, crimson, and titanium white:


More shading. I also added the shape of the horn, and some hills in the background using the three shades of green listed above, and titanium white:


Things start to take shape and form: I began working on the horn, and adding magenta for more lighter definition. Also more work on the background: I added more green-yellow throughout the backing, and I used a light blue (ultramarine and light blue (shown) mixed with titanium white) to create some towering shapes. This gives a bit more depth to the background, and adds an aura of mystery:


I was not thrilled with the shape of the neck and shoulder, so I added greens to redefine that area of the beast. Then I developed the hills and spires in the background. Also more work on the horn, and a little more shading:


Final painting. I worked up the mane in magenta mixed with titanium white. I defined the ears a little better using the blend of ultramarine and crimson, along with some magenta. At the suggestion of my GF, who is my second brain, I added glitter into the mane and horn by mixing glitter into Liquitex glazing medium and brushing that onto those areas.


I’ve been experimenting with a new signature, a four or five stroke shape of a wren. You can see it in the lower left corner of the painting.

Thank you for looking, and please “like” and comment.


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