Archive for category Subject: Horses

Horses in Acrylics (Ready to Paint) || Dave White

Horses have a reputation for being difficult, and not just in the hand or on the plate (sorry, topical reference at the time of writing!).

They’re a particular combination of shapes and proportions that even the most competent artists struggle to get right. Good books are hard to come by – in fact, the last one was actually about unicorns. This, however, is a humdinger. Dave White is an accomplished animal painter and he’s chosen a nice selection of approaches to illustrate here, from a head and shoulders portrait to a mare and foal and a steeplechaser, the latter conveying strength, movement and speed with effortlessness and elegance.

As ever, the Ready to Paint format provides pre-printed tracings that take the hit-and-miss out of getting the drawing right, leaving you to concentrate on the colour and shading that are also central to a convincing result.

Click the picture to view on Amazon

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Drawing & Painting Horses || Eva Dutton

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.

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How Your Horse Moves || Gillian Higgins

This isn’t the sort of book I’d normally review and, no, I haven’t started an equestrian spin-off. Dangerous things, horses, have a mind of their own!

In point of fact, the book was sent to me in error, but it’s worth drawing to the attention of anyone who wants to paint horses because of the excellent illustrations of equine anatomy, many of them rather neatly overlaid with the skeletal structure. If you’re wanting to paint horses and you want them to have that natural sense of movement that even a standing horse has, it’s well worth having this by your side.

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Painting Unicorns In Watercolour || Rebecca Balchin

This site normally has a policy of avoiding fantasy art. It’s not that I have anything against it, I simply don’t understand it and I find it difficult to be objective and to know whether the results are any good or not.

So why would I touch a book on unicorns? They’re the stuff of fairly tale, they don’t exist, missed the last bus to Noah Central and failed to make it to the Ark. Up there with the Dodo, except that the Dodo was real, so what kind of analogy is that?

Well, a very clever one, actually, because unicorns do have a sort of existence. Artistically speaking, they’re just a horse with a broom handle stuck on its head. Take the pole away and you’re left, plus or minus the odd cloven hoof, with a horse. And what this book is, above all else, is one of the very best books on painting horses you could wish for. Horses are a tricky subject and the proportions are hard to get just right, so full marks to Rebecca for some superb, sensitive drawings and paintings which get to the very heart of her subject.

If you want a book on unicorns, this is pretty much the only one but, if you want a book on horses, it remains the one you should buy. Of course it’s a bit fairytale, but that doesn’t get in the way if you don’t want it to.

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Draw Series

Looking at this series, which has just been reissued, it comes as a surprise to realise that it was first published in 1981, making most of the volumes over 25 years old. All too often, publishers look at their backlist with an uncritical eye that seems to overlook developments in style and design that they themselves have done much to push forward and eagerly reissue titles that just look tired and do their list no favours at all. However, the initial impression here is of a freshness and clarity that many more recent books would do well to emulate.

Each book is a mere 48 pages but, at £4.99, very competitively priced and covers a remarkable amount of ground. By sticking to a single subject, the general preamble is kept short and the authors are able to get stuck straight in, covering all the main areas right from the start. Text is kept to a minimum, giving the greatest prominence to the artwork itself and it is this, as much as anything else, that contributes to the longevity of the series as art instruction books have moved away from lengthy discursive text to shorter descriptions which mainly take the form of extended captions. This, in itself, has been driven by advances in printing technology which has provided illustrations which are nearly as good as the original itself.

These books are excellent primers for the novice and will encourage as well as educate.

Reissued 2007
£4.99 per volume

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