Dala Horse and the Gray Mare

Gray Mare with Blue Dala Foal

Between projects in my college art classes, drawing pictures for ladies in my prayer group, and using color pencils just for fun, I acquired a fair amount of experience fairly quickly when it came to drawing wildflowers. You can mess up a flower petal and it can still look realistically like the flower you're trying to portray--there's something about flowers that unless one grossly messes up, people don't often notice the mistakes.

Animals, however, are a different story.  Especially animals that people know and love. When you mess up a leg or the nose or the eyes, people notice. And the more beloved the animal, the harder it is to look realistic; kittens and puppies still intimidate me, because they come with so many expectations.

Horses are another animal that you have to get just right. Just about anyone can sketch a drawing that is recognizable as a horse, even out of stick figures. But transforming it from a sketch of a horse to a realistic horse? It is an intimidating prospect. Which is why, the first time I drew a horse, I deliberately avoided faces, the hardest part to get right.

This was a big learning project for me--not only figuring out how to draw horses, but grass. Turns out you can't just use one stick of green and make it look grassy--it just becomes a solid green background with no texture whatsoever (unless there's a lot of white paper showing through). So to make texture you need multiple shades of green, yellow, sometimes a little tan, and purple. Yep, purple. It's perfect for darkening greens and making shadows without being too dark, like black tends to be.