The Breyer SpotLight: Your Horse Model Market Resource

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  • News: You've asked for it and we've got it!
  • Updates: In case you missed it…
  • Article: Choosing Mediums ---- Acrylics (Tips on customizing your models)

News: You've asked for it and we've got it!

For quite some time we have been receiving requests about customizing as well as repairing Breyer models. What do you do if your favorite model has a rub that needs to be repaired? Or where do you start if you wish to test your creativity? Well now we have someone to answer those questions for you!

Elaine Hartley Botten has been customizing models for many years and has agreed to share some of the things that she has learned. I have seen the photos of Elaine's work and have to say; her models are outstanding! (We are working on some details of creating some pages that have photos for you on the website and will include links as soon as they are done.)


Before we get to the article though, we wanted to remind you about our new page on JAH model Alvaro. There are also links on this page that explain just what a “Sabino” is. (Alvaro is created as a “Sooty Palomino Sabino” - that's a tongue twister!) You can see Alvaro here:

JAH Alvaro, Connoisseur Model

And now; onto Elaine's first article for us about choosing the right type of medium or paint for your model. What is the easiest type of paint to work with when you're just getting started?

Choosing Mediums ---- Acrylics

There it sits in all its glory - the model horse you have worked so diligently to prep and prime and now the first question that comes to mind is what am I going to use to give this guy his special look?

When choosing a medium it is important to decide how much time and/or money you want to invest in your paints. The easiest and least expensive medium to use is acrylic paint. They are water soluble and clean up is a breeze; also, they take less time to dry than oil paints. There are several different types of acrylics out there. The craft acrylics such as Folk Art and Apple Barrel are the least expensive but it is worth the investment to get your hands on good artists' acrylics in the tubes. There is a big difference between the quality and texture of “crafty” versus tube acrylics and the outcome of your model is far better when top quality paint is used.

I have learned my techniques through trial and error and have completely destroyed horses which I have had to strip to start again. I have also been able to conquer and overcome what seemed like a daunting task at hand. All my work is done by hand; I don't have an airbrush so I rely on brushes and technique.

When painting models by hand the consistency of your paint is critical. There is nothing worse than putting hard work into your project only to find you have brush marks all over the place. Brush marks make the paint job look rough, will decrease the value of your model should you choose to sell it and will keep your model from placing well in any show.

Temperature and humidity levels play a large part in how your paint will dry on your model and how manageable it is in general. If it is cooler the paint will naturally dry slower; humidity has the same effect. If the temperature is warm and you are painting a large area on your model, you can purchase an extender which is a clear gel type of medium that lengthens the drying time of the acrylic. I use extender as a thinning agent and will sometimes also add a little water. The extender makes the paint spread more even and less likely to clump by causing it be too thick in some areas and too thin in others.

Always make sure you allow adequate drying time between the layers of your paint. Paint actually has different drying times based on their color - paints with large amounts of colorant usually take longer to dry than lighter colors. There is nothing worse than getting in a rush and picking up your model only to leave that perfect fingerprint in the paint! I generally allow a minimum one hour drying time between coats.

There is always a safety factor to consider. Acrylics are not as strong smelling as oils but it is still important to work in a well ventilated area. You may not be able to smell the paint that well but keep in mind you are inhaling and absorbing more fumes through the skin in a tighter, poorly ventilated working area.

In summary acrylics are a great medium to start with - they are kind to your bank and easy to use!

Elaine Hartley Botten was born and raised in Wyoming. She grew up on horse back, was rodeo queen, raced barrels and showed Quarter Horses professionally in both breed and color organizations. She is a cowgirl and artist at heart. Elaine has been drawing and painting since an early age and since she no longer owns real horses her efforts are now focused on customizing model horses.

What great information Elaine, thank you so much! If you enjoyed this article, why not let us know by emailing us at Or if you have any questions for Elaine, email us at the same address and we will pass your question along. And we look forward to Elaine's next article about working with pastels on models… can't wait!

Breyer Horse Collectors