|Sisters Josephine, Christine and Diana Pullein- Thompson, their books enriched my childhood.|
As much as I enjoyed reading the stories I also loved looking at the illustrations in all these books. There were some fabulous illustrators at work back then. Back then in the days before desktop publishing, photographs were still very expensive to use and print and illustrators were very important. Many of the books I was given dated back to just after World War II and although some might have a grainy photograph on the frontispiece, most were illustrated with glorious drawings and prints.
I grew to love the wonderful work of the likes of Stanley Lloyd who illustrated books like Primrose Cummings' 'The Chestnut Filly', 'Silver Snaffles' and Betty Cavanna's 'Spurs for Suzanna' and Harold Eldridge whose wonderful drawings illustrated Walter Farley's 'Black Stallion' books.
|A Stanley Lloyd illustration from my copy of 'The Chestnut Filly' by Primrose Cumming|
|A Skeaping illustration from his book - 'How to draw horses'|
|One of my earliest masterpieces, in the style of a Skeaping!|
|Getting better - I was a bit older when I did this one.|
Today I still doodle horses on paper - if I drift off in a meeting or when I have lost interest in a phone conversation. I rarely finish a drawing off properly though as I like trying to capture their spirit - much like Skeaping, but sadly with only a minute modicum of his giant artistic talent. I will occasionally find the time to do a finished piece and for these I prefer working in mono - pen and ink or pencil in particular and I have drawn a couple of friends' horses as a present for them but I much prefer free-style doodling.
|I will occasionally try a more detailed drawing|
|But I still prefer trying to capture movement in a few hasty strokes.|
A real treat for me remains, in rare quiet moment when there is no one on the yard, to take a sketch pad into the stables and make some quick drawings of the horses. Drawing the curve of a neck or the turn of a head can give you a real feel of a horse you know well, in a completely different form than a photograph can. If I come across an old sketch I can usually tell what horse I was drawing even if it is just a few lines and the horse itself is long gone. When you try to draw a horse you feel it's weight and its peculiar physical structure but you try and capture a sense of it as a living being - and trying to translate that, however amateurishly, onto paper fascinates me.
|Illustration from a lovely 1925 book on hunting 'Hullo! is that how you ride?' I wouldn't like to be the poor horse though.|