A day at the races, the sun shining on this amazing event which is a bit like a circus that appears from nowhere. An astonishing spectacle of beautiful horses and brightly coloured riders flashing by. A dream for every artist?...well there are challenges of course in this fantastic subject matter - the beasts move at such a speed when they race, that you can barely capture them with a camera, let alone a pencil, (even a pastel pencil). Any tips? Something to do with form? Well, happily there is an opportunity to view the horses and riders in the paddock prior to each race when they parade around for 10 minutes or so. First choose an angle to draw the horse from; side on, or approaching etc. Then draw some rapid flowing lines with a pastel pencil - or use the side of a chalk pastel to block in a basic shape or volume. Then as each horse passes at the same angle add some details to your drawing; make a composite horse built up from each new bit of information you discover. Also, don't overdo the legs...pinning them down in too fixed a way is counter productive, they look strange and the horse will lose it's dynamism. Then fit a rider to the horse - jockeys wear large colourful hats, making the task of drawing a head a lot easier, and wonderfully patterned tunics that can't be overdone. At Musselburgh today the sky was blue and the course a vivid green, so last of all it was easy to refine the drawing with colourful negative shapes.
Damian Callan is a practising figurative artist and tutor based in Edinburgh.