This drawing is being created for the American Quarter Horse’s “America’s Horse In Art” show in Amarillo, TX, which opens August 16th and runs through November 8th. You can find more information about the show on my home page.
Many of my western or horse pencil drawings involve a whole scene. For this drawing I decided to come in close and make a more intimate composition. I wanted the viewer to get a feeling of the connection between the cowboy and his horse.
I begin by sketching in the front of the saddle. One of the biggest challenges for me was making a convincing depiction of the stamping on the leather. The saddle is worn and dirty from years of use, so there is white dust in all the crevices. Figuring in the shadowing and highlights complicates things and takes a long time to draw.
Next I work on the rope and the saddle. There is a lot of foreshortening in this image so very little of the saddle is shown. I add layers of 5B and 8B graphite to bring the darks of the mane and neck in. I put layer after layer of hair down, which gives the drawing depth. Right now it looks quite flat. When I’m finally satisfied with the cowboy’s deeply shadowed face, I start developing the horse’s mane and neck. It’s very important to get that neck to look round.
There, that’s better. The neck has a much rounder look and I work to get the darkest shadows laid in. I use several different pencils ranging from 3B to 9B to achieve this. One of the most difficult things I did in this drawing was the breast collar. Hours and hours of work!
Now for the fun part – the horse’s head. That’s where you capture the spirit of the horse, in his many expressions and position of ears, nose and eyes. This mare was a young horse in training. She waited expectantly for the cowboy to tell her what to do next.
I finish the head and begin work on the cowboy’s jacket. Putting the dark against the mare’s white blaze really makes it pop.
The jacket is finished. Making the folds look convincing takes extra time and effort. I let the shadows define much of it. The next step is the front legs of the horse and finishing up the breast collar. Many layers of pencil are needed to get the rich darks I’m after.
I was surprised at how long this drawing took to complete, but at last - I'm finished! “Let’s Go Home” is ready to be framed and shipped to the next show.
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