Xciting Xamples!

Sometime last month, I painted my first horse in watercolor pencil, and decided I wanted to explore them further. Since then, I’ve found a few books that failed to inspire or help. Until now….I have two books to recommend to anyone interested in drawing animals, and horses in particular. I first learned about author J. C. Amberlyn from this wonderful post from Joan at Dusty Acres Studio, which inspired the heck outta me and made me wanna go grab a book by Amberlyn immediately.

Our library system owned this one:  “The Artist’s Guide to Drawing Animals” and I was able to recently acquire it.  I’ve not read the book, only skimmed it, but since I really want to learn to draw (and paint) wildlife accurately, this book looks to fill the bill perfectly.   She breaks animals down into basic shapes, she explains skeletal structures, focuses on the eye, the nose, mouth, etc., of each, and I find her artwork inspirational and her teaching accessible to this beginner.

I may wind up buying this book, as she covers so many animals I’d like to become more familiar with, and it would make an excellent reference book in years to come.

OK, so back to today’s artwork.  I ordered a box of willow charcoal some time ago after my daughter encouraged me to try charcoal, due to its forgiving nature.  Boy, was she right.  I really did enjoy using it, and although I think I was a bit heavy handed my first go-round, and had to put in some time with the kneaded eraser to lift back some light areas, I’m definitely willing to keep on with it.  Anyway, this was my first try at one of her sketches inside the book (p. 74):

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Even I could see as soon as I finished that the head was much too short.  So I tried again:

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A little better, but still a ways to go.  I think the head still needs to come down even longer.  Did I sketch in the three circles first, block out the head, as Amberlyn recommends?  Um, nope, just went right in with the charcoal as I’m prone to do (act first, think later), but….at least now I have a book that I feel can really help me to progress.

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I also want to mention the other book I found, called “Drawing Horses:  Basic Drawing and Painting Techniques” by David Sanmiguel.  This book was published earlier this month, and looks to be another great reference.  It’s devoted to capturing the horse in almost any medium:  graphite, charcoal, pastel, ink, watercolor, and more.   As I said, both books look like winners, but if you’re interested in drawing animals of all kinds, you don’t want to miss Amberlyn’s book.

I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend so far.  We’ve been blessed with near perfect weather, and hoping it continues!  Peace and hugs to all.  And happy creating.   Don’t forget to do something special for yourself today.  🙂

36 thoughts on “Xciting Xamples!

    1. Thank you very much!! I really appreciate it. I’d love to paint them and capture their proportions more accurately. They’re so soulful and beautiful. I’ll keep working on them. I really appreciate your comment and that you like them as they are. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I will have to check out your book suggestions, Laura! I think your first sketch looks like a pony’s head. I like your other sketches as well. And I agree, they aren’t easy to draw bit you are doing awesome! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! That’s what Hub said about the first one. I was trying to draw that same sketch from the last photo tho lol. I’m glad you like it. Charcoal is much easier than trying to use pencil or ink. You can fix mistakes much more easily.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I was watching a video that mentioned willow charcoal so I ordered some the next time I placed a Blick order. (I always order enough to get free shipping, it’s my downfall lol). I was staying away due the mess too, and I can’t say there was no mess, but it pretty much stayed on my fingers and rinsed off faster than the mixed media stuff I work with, so I’ll definitely give it another try.

          The Frugal Crafter uses cheap hair spray for a fixative, which I’d never tried, but it worked great on my picture, which was in my sketchbook and would’ve likely smudged without a coating of something. I’m chemically sensitive, so I asked Hub to spray it outside and it worked great! I figure it has to smell less than the “art fixatives”, although I don’t know as I’ve never tried them. I just know masking fluid smells so bad that after ordering it and taking a sniff, I’ve never used it since lol!


  2. My library has an excellent drawing animals book, too, but I can’t remember what the title is…have been meaning to go back and reborrow it. I have one or two myself, but I liked the library one better. Am pulling up your link to see if it’s the same book. I like your practice horses!

    Liked by 1 person

          1. I finally resorted to my phone (thank goodness for smart phones)…LOL! The book I really enjoyed was by the same author, but it’s called “Complete Guide to Drawing Animals.” I like the one you recommended from the cover and will check that out, too. Thanks!


  3. Nice! I really like the eyes, especially. Aside from making the head a smidge longer, it looks to me like maybe you should focus on the muzzle in your next attempt–size and shape, especially with the mouth, chin, and nostrils. /unsolicited two cents

    Anyway, awesome work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. The muzzle sticks out like a sore thumb to me also. Probably could have done without the charcoal outline! But yeah, it’s just off. Thanks for pointing it out. It does help to have comments like this for improvement. 🙂


    1. Ugh, didn’t mean to click Send so soon. I’d love to see you work in charcoal. I thought it would be much messier than it was. Also tried using hair spray for fixative, and it worked surprisingly well. Apparently the key is to buy the really cheap kind without any conditioners. I used Final Net.

      Joan, I’m not sure if I’ve asked you before, but did you paint the bunny in your avatar? It is really lovely. I get inspired every time I see it! Is it watercolor?


      1. Yes, I painted the bunny in my avatar. I met him on a camping trip. He is done in water colour and ink. Maybe a bit of pencil crayon, I don’t remember. It’s in a different sketch book than I’m using now.


  4. I really like this, youve got a good style which i think is worth more than getting perfect lifelike drawings every time (tho thats kind of useful too and something I’m struggling with… 🙂 ) I’ll check out Amberlyn’s book for sure. The David Sanmiguel horse book has been on my wishlist for a few months now, since i saw this quick extract on how to draw a very simple horse on the artists network site: http://www.artistsnetwork.com/articles/art-demos-techniques/drawing-horses?lid=CHarnnl031215&et_mid=732071&rid=250021659

    Liked by 1 person

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