I’ve been writing about art books for more than thirty years (yes, it seems longer to me too) and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of books I’ve seen dedicated to drawing and painting horses. Some of this has to do with the fact that it’s quite a specialised subject and partly because they’re one of the most difficult animals to get right. Just getting all four legs in proportion seems to be beyond most artists. Stick to guinea pigs, they’re just adorable little lumps.
However, all those problems mean that pretty much anyone who does want to paint horses is going to need a really good guide and Eva Dutton is not going to let you down. Her thorough work is beautifully and generously illustrated and deals with all the practicalities such as conformation (basically, what makes a horse look horsey) as well as the techniques you need to capture hair, manes, eyes, hooves and everything else, both static and in motion.
Starting from basics and using simple block diagrams, Eva will show you how to get the shapes and structures right; this section is excellent on the practical, rather than the anatomical approach. From here, she moves on to things like motion and proportion and it’s in these sections that you start to learn how to give your work the character that makes for life and reality. Further chapters deal with backgrounds, colours and markings, as well as a handy selection of brushwork techniques.
The final section of the book is a series of five demonstrations that give you a chance to put what you’ve learned into practice. These are worth following as they give you a chance to work from a pre-planned image, rather than trying to get to grips with a moving creature before you’re ready.
This is a nicely thought-out and well-structured book from an author who is clearly comfortable with her subject.