Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It All Began With Walter Farley

Yes, it did. The man who wrote The Black Stallion series, The Island Stallion series.....and more.
My answer to a reader who commented on my blog, got me started on my own start, which was when I was about 7 years old. Each morning before school, I ate breakfast while listening to The Black Stallion, read by Arlen E. Barnard, on the radio. My mother discovered that program one morning, and from then on it was all over. There had to be more horse books. More.
One Saturday---I had to be at least 8 by then---she took me to the public library and got me a card. I asked where the horse books were, and then, it really WAS all over. There they were, a whole long line of them. That's when I discovered the Black Stallion series and The Island Stallion series. At first I only took a couple at a time. As I got to reading better, I took one or two more besides. Just couldn't get enough of them....
All of that just never stopped. My grandmother helped the cause. Except for the beautiful little dresses and colorful shorts, tops and pajamas she made for us, she would give us other gifts too. Most often, books were what she gave me. Very memorable books that still stand on my shelves. Other books have come and gone (but when it comes to horse books they, too, are here. Once they get into my hands they are HOME. Right next to the ones she gave to me).
Throughout school, I hated math. The pad of white typing paper my folks bought me to do math problems on each year, mainly got used for horse drawings. "It's all gone??! How could it be all GONE? That is for MATH. You used it up drawing horses? No wonder you're failing math."
The horse books found their way to school too, making great reading during geography class. And so, came the day I heard: "Yes you can ride your bike to the library with Anna. It won't make much sense, though, because you aren't to take out any books until your grades are where they should be. (Report cards had come out, mine was obviously lacking, to put it mildly).
Okay, so that's where it began, with The Black Stallion. Much later there was The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy, with such an exquisite rendering, in black and white, of the stallion Midnight--dancing--and his little rider, that I felt I really wanted to draw like that someday. The books by C.W. Anderson affected me the same way. One of them, I took to the weekly art class in high school, and worked endlessly on the head of a thoroughbred in leather halter, facing straight out of the page. That was my first pencil drawing with serious detail in it, and it was difficult. I still have it. (After all that work, I would hope so).
Last summer at the local library's book sale, I found Man o'War by Walter Farley. Had never heard of it. The other day I read it, and it was such a fast, fine read that I almost couldn't put it down.
Now, of all things, it seems that I need to be illustrating the novel I just finished. Someone wants to show the entire package to a publishing house she has worked for, as an editor and illustrator. Rough drafts are in progress. It sure is interesting, pulling the pictures out of one's mind, putting them on paper to match the word pictures already there. I'm off now to do more. There's no telling how all will turn out.....there are always surprises, aren't there!