Thursday, January 26, 2012

And don't forget to look into the corners

Norman Thelwell (1923- 2004) was a most remarkable cartoonist. Best known for his "Thelwell Ponies," it seemed he could draw nearly anything and make it funny. From a horseman's perspective it was clear that he knew the horse world very, very well. With a short series of pen strokes he could make a horse look guilty, or happy, or very, very angry. His detail and gesture work were incredibly expressive. 

Tonight, while studying a few of his drawings, I noticed a particular sequence of pages in his book, "Thelwell's Riding Academy (1965). I had looked at these pages many times before, but this was the first time I took a really close look at the background figures that no one ever looks at. The closer I looked, the more impressed I got. Check this out…
For me this was a wonderful lesson. Leave out the detail if you must, but use the right gestures. We all know them and have seen them a thousand times in real life. The trick, of which Thelwell was a master, is to add just enough detail to make your point. But not too much or everything gets muddied and the impact is lost. :-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pen & Ink practice

Practicing drawing trees at Chez Jacroux
I have already noticed a few extra benefits to doing a regular comic once again. The routine will improve not only your drawing skills but also your ability to observe the world around you. Secondarily, you will quickly find out what you are weaker at drawing and can then work to improve those particular skills.

I have always been a bit wary of drawing trees and plants. Not that I can’t, but that I try to illustrate sometimes when I should interpret instead. You don’t always need to draw “that particular tree over there.” Instead, it is frequently more valuable (unless you are doing a study of an individual plant) to merely interpret the shape, light qualities and texture of the tree. Often that is enough information to make to tree look “real.” Too much detail can distract and, in some unfortunate cases, destroy the final drawing or sketch.

Tree drawings
Today I was practicing drawing trees in pen & ink. I was also breaking in a new Noodler’s Flex Pen (regular size not Ahab) in the Ivory Darkness color. It was filled with my favorite Noodler’s Lexington Grey ink. The new pen’s nib seemed a bit broader to me than the nibs on my two other flex pens. More like the nib on a Noodler’s Piston Fill but with a flex. Despite my initial surprise at the broadness of the nib, the new pen behaved itself well. I think it’ll be a fine edition to my working collection.

Breaking in my new pen

Noodler's Flex pen in Ivory Darkness color.
The pen color is striated in black and white.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


My last two posts have been about “Horse Life,” my new comic. I’ve been enjoying getting a jump on it while being housebound during the first big snowstorm (in WA state) of the Winter of 2011-2012. Here are some pictures to show what I’ve been seeing out my window for the past couple of days in Snohomish, Washington

My street

Another street shot

Pokey goes for a walk on the deck
(Note: this is an 8" Pokey

Monday, January 16, 2012

Horse Life #2

It's snowing outside and that makes a perfect excuse to contemplate Summer trail riding.

Happy trails everyone! ;-)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Horse Life #1

I was going to say something very elaborate and “Frasier Crane-like” to announce this but have decided not to make such a big deal of it. Basically, starting today I’m going to begin posting a brand new comic I’m been creating called “Horse Life” here in my blog. It’s all about the horse world and what happens in it. I’m yet not sure how often I’ll post, at least once a week for sure and hopefully more.

The comic starts here today! I will put a category in the blog sidebar so that you can see the whole run listed.

Hope you enjoy it.