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Books • published books by  Ruth Buchanan

To see Ruth's original paintings and drawings, or for details on commissioning a painting, please go to
Hoof, Hide and Heart: the art of drawing and painting animals is an A4 paperback book of articles written by Ruth Buchanan and first published in
'The Artist' Magazine (UK).
Click on book cover image (left) for details and to order

Society of Equestrian Artists’ Review of Hoof Hide and HeART

'Have you ever struggled with the structure of a paw, or the subtleties of how light passes through or reflects from an eye? Have you tried to paint a portrait from a commissioner’s indifferent photographs and wondered how to correct distortions? Or how to adjust a viewpoint or angle when painting an animal? How do you combine observation from life with reference photographs? How do you tackle long fur in watercolour? How do you avoid mixing mud and keep colours clean and bright? Take a look at Ruth Buchanan’s new book ‘Hoof Hide and HeART, The Art of Drawing and Painting Animals’. Based on a collection of ten articles first published in ‘The Artist’ magazine, this slender volume is packed with all kinds of information, tips and demonstrations. Ruth covers a range of topics from eyes and noses, the texture of fur or the sheen on a horse’s coat, to movement, expression and body language.

Click on the book cover image to buy

Double page spread Ruth Buchanan's book Hoof Hide and Heart, the art of drawing and painting animals

Ruth places great emphasis on getting the basics right before you even start looking at colour, whether it be the gait or weight distribution of a horse, or the patterns and tones within a composition. There is a section on drawing from life, from memory and imagination. Her object is to free you from the rigid adherence to your photographic references, and to help train your powers of observation the better to inform the choices that you make when composing a picture. Still on the subject of drawing, Ruth demonstrates various methods of constructing animal forms, from simple stick figures and maquettes to ‘engineering through proportional measurement and triangulation’, at the same time creating lines of movement and establishing the distribution of weight. Moving on she examines the process of ‘going from source and reference to a composition’, using thumbnail sketches and tonal drawings to develop and refine her design. At each stage she explains why she has made certain decisions as she adjusts the groupings of animals, angles and light.

Back cover of Ruth Buchanan's book Hoof Hide and Heart, the art of drawing and painting animals

The book is beautifully illustrated throughout with pen and wash and graphite drawings, and watercolour demonstrations which lead you through the creation of each painting or drawing with great clarity. In one of these she takes you from her initial annotated life sketches of a flock of ewes, through creating a composition with the aid of both sketches and photographs to the finished watercolour. At each stage she explains both methods and decision making. Each demonstration is accompanied by a list of materials used and she describes how she uses them. If, like me, you only make the occasional foray into watercolour then her seemingly effortless demonstrations are an inspiration. They give an insight into both the way in which Ruth tackles a subject and the way in which I, for one, could improve my own techniques. 


The book [Hoof, Hode and HeART] will certainly be a very useful addition to my reference library. While there is a great deal of very useful and thoughtful information in this book, if I absorb nothing else, I will remember Ruth’s observation that if the paint in your tube or pan already contains three pigments and you mix it with another, then you are well on the way to mixing mud. Thank you, Ruth.  My New Year’s Resolution will be to mix no more mud!'

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