Horse Drawing and Painting workshops at Blyford Dairy Studios

 "Two Horses, Three Cliffs" by Jennifer Sendall

"Two Horses, Three Cliffs" by Jennifer Sendall

"Painting the horse in motion" workshop by Jennifer sendall at Blyford Hall Farm, Suffolk

 I remember my first Horse painting attempts very clearly, sitting in a paddock with  wondering where to start... I was an experienced plein air painter, but it was still a struggle! 

Although I had painted and drawn horses from photographs, when I first set out to work from a live horse exercising around a paddock I just didn’t know how to deal with all the changes that were going on in front of me. There was so much information in terms of colour and light, so many details, and so much movement! Fortunately I have since learned there are many things that can help make the process so much easier. This is what I will share with you in this workshop.

You may have noticed from experience that working from photographs can deaden things, you can get so tied down to copying details that you lose the wonderful excitement, poise and dynamic “swish” that horses embody. These workshops are designed to help you create work that capture the essence of these wonderful creatures. It will teach you 5 key practices that will enable you to produce much more accurate, expressive and original equine art.

The workshop consists of the same schedule repeated both days.

 In the morning we will have a short talk, with different content on the Saturday and Sunday. This is followed by the morning session in the paddock with the horses being put through their exercises as we draw or paint them. We will be looking at how to capture the horse in motion and which techniques are useful for this scenario.

In the afternoon we will take time for the longer pose, where we can consider more carefully aspects of anatomy as well as light and setting.

This course is specifically designed to give you experience with 5 key practices that will help you to create accurate yet lively equine art.

  1. The primary good practice is working from life. You may have heard that in most professional and historical fields, working from life is recognised as a prerequisite for creating quality work. This is for good reason; working from a photo isn’t wrong, but it is very limiting. If you do not practice working from life your photo work will be stiff, and your colours will tend towards being one dimensional. Blyth Dairy Studios are on the site of working stables and we will be working live with the horses.
  2. You will shown ways of setting up easels and working that will double your time observing and recording visual information so you get the most out of a session.
  3. You will be taught how to set up and prepare your painting surface and palette that will make mixing and painting go smoothly and you can concentrate on what you are doing rather than how.
  4. You will be taught how to work “sight size”, this method helps eliminate errors of drawing and scale. Sight-size was historically a portrait painting technique, which involves the artist placing the painting and the subject so that the visual images were at the same scale. This practice has been adopted successfully by many plein air painters today, and is very useful for obtaining accuracy quickly - an essential requirement for moving subjects.
  5. Finally we will look at how to manage the brushwork and your thinking to create work that reflects the dynamic and lively aspects of living, breathing horses. 

I will be teaching in oils - my preferred medium - so I encourage those that use oils to bring them. It is the most forgiving and flexible of all the mediums. However, most of the principles can be applied equally to watercolours, acrylics, drawing, pastels or mixed media, so please feel welcome to use whatever medium you feel most comfortable with.

This is a challenging workshop that is well suited to practiced painters, and artists new to horse painting but experienced in other areas. Absolute beginners are welcome, but I recommend you work in charcoal in the morning, so you are not having to learn to manage paint and the moving horse at the same time.

The workshops are run at Blyford Hall Farm, an old dairy farm now converted to stables and art studios. This is run by Ben and Annette Wardle, and their daughter Martha. Ben is a countryman and artist, who runs a private studio as well as manages the stables and classes with Annette, who focusses on the stables and teaching. Ben has a Masters in Arts Practice and will be supporting the teaching when he is not dealing with the horses. Surrounded by lovely Suffolk countryside and under the famous Suffolk skies are stables, old barns, an ancient cart and gently rolling fields, Blyford Hall is a great place to get in touch with our rural heritage.

 Ben, Annette and Martha, our hosts at Blyford Hall

Ben, Annette and Martha, our hosts at Blyford Hall

You should leave at the end of these sessions with a toolbox of techniques and practices that will help you to take your work to the next level. 

The fee for the workshop is £60 for a single day, and £100 for the whole weekend. Lunch is not included, and you will need to provide your own materials, although boards, charcoal and sketch paper can be requested. Lunch can be taken at the local pub, or you can bring a packed lunch if you prefer. Tea and coffee will be provided. The day starts at 9.30am and finishes at 4.30pm, but you are welcome to remain and paint the lovely environs of the farmland and buildings for the remainder of the afternoon. Because of the rough nature of farmyards and paddocks we would need advance warning of disability to ensure we can accommodate you. 

Please book by Eventbrite here. Places are limited to eight, when we are fully booked we will put applicants on a waiting list for our next event and give you first refusal. 

Once booked you will receive contact details and an information pack. Any enquiries please use the contact form at the top of the page.

Look forward to seeing you there! Warmest Regards



Blyford Dairy Studios, 

Blyford Hall,

near Halesworth,