Saturday, December 18, 2010

arabian head study in ink

An ink painting of an Arabian horse. Art Spectrum Ink on watercolour paper. Through my detailed drawing practice I have improved my quick and gestural paintings. I love using rich, dark ink.

Monday, December 6, 2010

horse skeleton

Here is something I drew while studying equine anatomy. It's an excellent example of what happens when you confidently draw an entire hind limb without considering the space required for the rest of the horse ...

Truth be told, I wasn't too worried, as my aim was to become more familiar with the names of various bones. It's very odd to consider that the horse's knee is equivalent to our wrist - meaning that they are actually delicately poised on one finger. No wonder they are so prone to tendon strain when we work them hard.

So here's my very creatively compressed horse

Sunday, November 21, 2010

need holiday reading?

I highly recommend the fascinating late nineteenth century journal of Lady Anne Blunt (including her sweet watercolour sketches). The journal details her (often adventurous) travels amongst the Bedouin tribes and elsewhere in search of Arabian horses for the Crabbet Stud (many of whom were to become wonderfully influential dams and sires of the breed).  Among the many lovely horses she imported to England were Skowronek (Poland) and Mesaoud (Egypt). Her journal entries are always entertaining and include tales of woe relating to over-exuberant camels and some lovely descriptions of horses.

There is a lovely blog (at Clouddragon) on Lady Anne Blunt here, by the happy owner of a Crabbet descendant (note that the story also continues at the bottom of her page). 

Monday, November 8, 2010

horse poem - in progress

For my next exhibition I'm going to combine words and images. Here's a work in progress. Not sure what the final format will be. I've posted it on my fiction page:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

anatomical horse

Well, sometimes my gothic fiction interest creeps into my horse drawings (not so often the other way around). This was intended as a response to Stubbs, but it does come across quite ... unsettling. It was something I was considering putting in a reasonably conservative equine art competition / exhibition some time ago. Think they would have gone for it?

By the way - it's Liquid Spectrum ink (permanent) on watercolour paper.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

music, art, words ...

I didn't realise how much I had missed playing the guitar until I started again. It all happened because someone loaned me Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins and I remembered I didn't mind guitar solos one bit. Not at all actually.

Operation save-up-for-electric guitar begins. Strangely (in the meantime) I'm working on Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring - but it's just because I never learnt the end when I used to play. And I'm determined to fill in all the gaps and do the things I left undone - through sheer laziness and lack of belief. Plus - it is well known that Bach is excellent and leads to happy ears.

Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I had my right hand chopped off. Yes, odd I know - I suppose it's like wondering what you would do if your beloved partner left you. It's a worst case scenario survival plan. Well you can ride a horse one-handed (or no hands), learn to draw and write with your left hand and ... well, I guess - some sort of device for rhythm guitar? Music, words and visual art - just different ways to express the same thing. What is that thing? Not sure yet. But I know there's about million of us working on it.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Meg Wade of Castlebar Arabians

champion endurance rider Meg Wade is recovering from a fall she had while competing:
While her husband is nervous, she has no fears.
"I'm not scared at all about getting on a horse. I'm not scared of horses not one little bit, I'm looking forward to it," she said.
"I definitely want to ride again, and as long as I can ride I definitely want to compete. I am still competitive. It will happen I am sure."
Full story at:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ancient Cats

We met this cat at the Louvre and it looked so much like our beloved Betty (she now resides permanently in the garden, non-mummified but peaceful). They really had cats down, those Egyptians. So poised and compact!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

wild horses

Many years ago I was lucky enough to get a book ($2!) called Wild Horses. It was written by Hope Ryden. She'd spent a lot of time out in the field, documenting the stories and behaviour of mustangs. She took some beautiful photographs and I thought I'd share some sketches of mine - inspired by Hope's images.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

some australian birds

Tasmanian Native Hen, Cradle Mountain

Magpie, Eltham

Liquid Spectrum ink on Blue Lake Watercolour paper.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

colour in poetry

Keats remarkable description of a woman transformed into a snake

'She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d;
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv’d, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries— '

Keats - Lamia

Sunday, April 25, 2010

minding Charlie

Well, this long weekend has been a bit of a fail as far as drawing or writing. We're minding Charlie (my parents'/sister's very young dog). He is part poodle and much too smart to be left unattended for long periods in a non dog-proof house. He seems to think my habit of staring at nothing for long spells and twitching my fingers with little tappy noises is the boringest thing ever (I call it writing a novel). I'm pretty sure drawing will be viewed in much the same way. There's nothing like a dog to help you get your priorities straight (throwing spit-covered tennis ball, now number one). 

Charlie saw some horses close up on our walk yesterday. First time. He did not like them. Not one bit. He was very courageous though and wuffed at them at least three times before running away (innocent surprise of horses, who've meandered up in a friendly way to see us and couldn't understand why we were heading off so soon). I'm sure, given time, he would grow to love them. But I thought we might have given him horse nightmares, considering all the horsey items in the house (and now he can put a terrifying picture to the smell). What an exciting stay he's had!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

life drawing

life drawing sketch ophelia keys
life drawing sketch ophelia keys

life drawing sketch ophelia keys
We had a very ambitious model in life drawing. She had trouble holding some of her poses - but you had to admire her determination!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

boldini - romantic horse

Giovanni Boldini, more known for his romantic images of women here gives us a romantic image of a horse. It's frothing at the bit to show its romantic spirit can't be long contained!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

rollkur petition

the following is a message from Philippe Karl:

'On 9 February 2010, more than 20 experts will attend an FEI meeting in Switzerland to discuss once again whether the so-called hyperflexion (“Rollkur”) is an adequate method of training a horse. In order to support the opponents of this method and offer them further arguments, a petition has been initiated at We’d like to invite you to support this action against hyperflexion – time is short!'

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

horses of st mark

James and I had a beautiful time sketching the horses of St Mark in Venice. They give a remarkable feeling of serenity in person. The real horses are inside the Basilica - we had the joy of listening to the singing below at mass while we drew.

sketch of horses of st marks by ophelia keys
sketch of horses of st marks by ophelia keys
sketch of horses of st marks by ophelia keys