Drawing and painting horses is a challenge. Horse anatomy is quite difficult. One of the mistakes I always did was to make the neck too short and the body, or the flank, too long. Most important is to get the curves of the rear, the back and the belly right. Often, in landscape painting, the horses we paint are quite small so as long as it looks right, we’re good. It does not actually have to be right. There is a difference! I should trademark that..
As Richard Schmid rightly says, you don’t actually have to know anything about the thing you’re painting. But it is imperative to spend time observing and drawing it! In the end, the only way to fully understand an object, whether it be a horse or a car, is to draw it many, many times.
Only then will we ‘get it’ and I am not talking about intellectually getting what a horse is all about, just referring to drawing skills here. Horses are more challenging to draw than cows, don’t you think?
I recommend charcoal drawing for the simple reason that you can take it anywhere you go. It doesn’t weigh much and it’s a great way to improve drawing skills. I use Faber-Castell Charcoal Pencils and General Pencil Co. Vine Charcoal. These come in different hardnesses, from the super hard to super soft.
Here are a few good links:
~ Think Like A Horse is a great website covering horse anatomy
~ A Horse for Elinor has good pictures of dressage training
~ Equitherapy has horses galore
Horse post, yay!
Thank you for the shout out – trigger happy as I am, there’s no shortage of horse pictures on my site 😉
I’d say part of the difficulty in catching, or capturing, the anatomy of the equine just right in an artistic rendition, is that the horse itself represents so much more than say, a cow, as in your example above. There’s strength and power, yes, but calmness balanced by alertness – a certain “readiness” in the body at all times. Also the way a horse just stands there has a certain amount of presence and grace to it, when compared to a goat or any other farm animal the artist also may not be altogether familiar with.
Taking time to observe them moving, especially among each other, how they use their necks, position their legs, and how in a group there’s a specific “dynamic” in how and where they position their bodies in relation to each other, will go a long way to grasp how a horse “should” look like in a drawing.
This comes from someone with no artistic skills at all, so it’s not altogether professional, but I DO know horses 🙂
Loved this post!
Thank you! Nice and thoughtful comment. I especially like your take on what I would call ‘the energy’ of a horse. I can’t agree more. ‘That what gives it life’, is what I say in my artist statement, I would like to paint. That goes for horses or anything. The horse has a presence and I am sure they all have different personalities etc. As an artist I think it must be my mission to pick up on these things and hope they will make their way into a drawing/ painting. It has to be the most difficult and most rewarding thing at the same time.
You may not be an artist but you’re alert and receptive to these deeper layers, and as you said, you know your horses! Thank for this great note!
Love these! Haven’t been drawing horses since I was a kid. That might be a new challenge…
Thank you! Takes lots of practice!
“…as long as it looks right, we’re good. It does not actually have to be right…” Another ‘Eberism’ I’m adding to my list of excellent artist advice.
thanks so much, Joe. Sorry, the meet-up didn’t work out this time around. There may be another chance in the fall. Will let you know.
Wow, great anatomy and you’re right about observation.
These are gorgeous Frank! Degas has nothing on you!