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. :-)


  1. Spot on observation, here here on your conclusions! I love Thelwell's work, the attention to detail and command of character in his pen work is wonderful.