Sam Savitt, Horse Artist

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My all-time favorite horse artist is Sam Savitt, illustrator of hundreds of children’s books, articles, how-to’s, posters, and paintings. I was always taken with his art, even as a child, because he captured the beauty and inquisitive nature of all types of horses. I purchased his how-to book quite a long time ago, Draw Horses with Sam Savitt, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in horse art.

I discovered he authored a Grumbacher how-to book on painting, The Art of Painting Horses. I guess it doesn’t matter that I don’t paint in oils or acrylics, I still wanted it. The thin paperback has five tutorials and was about $15 or so on eBay.

I had a heavy hand with the crayons (horse on left) and colors got muddy, lines became too thick. A light touch is necessary, especially for the first layer.

I used Neocolor II watersoluble crayons by Caran D’Ache for all of the tutorials. I first drew with crayons and then used water to paint them out from the base drawing. One tip I can pass along with this type of watersoluble medium is to draw in your initial layer thinner/smaller than you need. When you use a wet brush to activate the pigment, you’ll probably push the lines out, making the image larger. Plus, it’s far easier to make something bigger than take away.

The pony painting is the worst one–I got way too heavy and sloppy with everything. I’m planning on trying this one again.

All of these were painted in a Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook.

This hunter looks a little too lean, but it was super fun to paint a horse in motion.

Honestly, I would have never chosen to draw a polo match or a huge draft, but Sam Savitt loved all horses. Great inspiration and quite a challenge.

Neocolor II crayons have really rich pigment. I kept the backgrounds super light on all of these as I tend to be far too dark with pretty much any medium I use.
A silly-looking man on the right doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great time painting this gigantic draft.

Other than the pony painting, I’m pleased with the pictures. They capture horses looking lovely and still but also in motion–some with funny-looking humans. (They’re not funny looking in his book, mind you.)

For those of you with an insatiable curiosity about Sam Savitt, there are two sets of videos on Youtube that may interest you even though the quality is poor. The first is a lecture, the second a demo.

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