Friday, September 5, 2014


This special horse-themed post celebrates 4 of my favorite equine artists.

Let's start with an update on Sept 2011 post that is one of the most frequented on the blog -- NORMAN THELWELL. There's not a lot about Thelwell on the internet and perhaps that's why this post gets so much traffic. If you're looking to add Norman Thelwell books to your home (or barn) library ... several reprints of the classic titles can be found on the usual on-line sources. We don't carry those at SNB since are are available elsewhere. The Thelwell titles we do have in stock are catalogs from exhibitions/auctions of his original art. Details on these books here:

Thelwell A catalogue for a 1989 exhibition and sale of Thelwell's original illustration art.

And also this title:
The Definitive Thelwell The most popular cartoonist since the Second World War, Thelwell is best remembered for his little girls and their cheeky fat ponies.However, he was a wide-ranging artist who surveyed an impressive range of social subjects for a variety of newspapers and periodicals, most notably Punch.This catalogue contains 177 works spanning his entire career: cartoons, illustrations, paintings, and sketches.Introduction by David Wootton. A biographical chronology. A list of Thelwell illustrated books and cartoon collections.

Meanwhile ... enjoy a little background on and the amazing drawings of the pony club master!

"I'll be glad when she's interested in boys."

If you don't know the works of Norman Thelwell (1924-2004), you're in for a treat! If you love horses, English country life, or just a good laugh, his cartoons always deliver. The detail is amazing... and he was also a wonderful fine artist as well as an internationally known cartoonist and illustrator. He was also an art teacher and always stressed the importance of carrying a sketchbook and drawing constantly! Funny how that advice pops up over and over from the best artists, isn't' it?

Here's a bio from his official website

"Best known for his humorous cartoons of little girls and their ponies - from which the description 'Thelwell pony' has become a part of the English language - this subject only scratches the surface of his life-long passion for cartoons. He published 32 books on subjects ranging from the ever-popular ponies to cats and dogs, children, fishing, sailing, motoring, house-hunting, gardening, golf, country sports, the environment and stately homes.
Thelwell's first pony cartoon was published in Punch in 1953.

Thelwell's first book, a collection of his cartoons entitled Angels on Horseback, was published in 1957, and was inspired by his observations of two hairy ponies - 'small and round and fat and of very uncertain temper' - who grazed in a field next to his house. They were owned by 'two little girls about three feet high who could have done with losing a few ounces themselves.... As the children got near, the ponies would swing round and present their ample hindquarters and give a few lightning kicks which the children would side-step calmly as if they were avoiding the kitchen table, and they had the head-collars on those animals before they knew what was happening. I was astonished at how meekly they were led away; but they were planning vengeance - you could tell by their eyes.'
So were born Thelwell's characters Penelope and her pony Kipper!"

And here are views of some Thelwell cartoons and tips on drawing ponies (these are books from my own collection):

Click on photo below to enlarge and read bio:

In addition to his books on ponies... Thelwell tackled English country life...
Dogs, Cats... even the Wild West....
Here's the back cover note from "How to Draw Ponies":
Here's the text from this page of life sketches:
"....if we are to make him (the pony) look convincing on paper we must find out more about him. This we must do with the aid of a sketchbook, the most valuable piece of an artist's equipment. Take one with you wherever you go, and draw in it as much and as often as you can. Draw horses and ponies at shows, grazing in fields and standing in stables... If they are moving, then make a lot of quick sketches on the same sheet, going from one sketch to another and back again as the animal changes position."
"The best way to learn how to draw is by drawing, and by doing it as often as possible. Do this with ponies and horses and you will learn a great deal and improve your draughtsmanship at the same time."
Here are the construction drawings for a cartoon....
.. and the finished cartoon:
More samples of Thelwell books:
Here are some typical cartoons from various books (captions below as noted)

"He will quickly get used to having his bridle put on."

"Ponies are natural jumpers.... But don't expect miracles too early"

"How to time your jumps: Take-off too early; Take-off too late; Take-off just right"

An active pony with need shoeing regularly.. Keep something handy to pick out his hooves.

Do nothing which may cause him alarm...

And these last two show case Thelwell's keen observation of British wit and country life:
(the maid above is anxious to know: "Will you be dusting for fingerprints?")
Be sure to look at my post from the Empty Saddle Club show that features a Thelwell pony come to life (even though he was really a miniature horse :)

Want more Thelwell fun??? Check out this super-cute post of finalists for Thelwell pony look-alike contest:

Other favorite horse artists from the past ... CW Anderson. His gentle pencil sketches of famous thoroughbreds and his children's series "Billy and Blaze (see post

Anderson portrait of Man O War..

sample Billy and Blaze series illustrations..

sample cover original versions

The Billy and Blaze series is available as paperback reprints, but the current reprints have altered the drawings from their original soft pencil style..

to a slightly harsher looking, current style...

sample cover of current versions..

Sam Savitt, official artist of United States Equestrian Team and also author-illustrator of many horse stories for young readers

and George Ford Morris. In addition to his stunning commissions of racehorses and family pets, Morris is renowned for his portraits of champion American Saddlebreds. More on Morris from "Upon A White Horse" blog Previous post here on this blog as well

more pics of Morris sculpts and studies here:

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