A thrilling experience to teach at the famous Munnings Museum, near Colchester. This beautiful house was the home of Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) for much of his life, and when he purchased the house he actually physically transported the large studio by cart from his previous home in Norfolk. This studio stands in the grounds and is open to visitors, so I could see his actual easels, his plaster anatomical casts of horses and horses’ legs, and his painting kit just as he left it (very clean brushes I noticed) at his death in 1959.
In the house hang many of his most famous paintings and absorbing examples of his energy and his extraordinary skill and ability in painting horses. As a young man he bought and sold horses as models constantly, learning all the time how to show their form and the colours in their coats as well as their wonderful energy. He had a wonderful and successful career which enabled him to live in some style. He also had a house and studio in Chelsea, London, and his wife owned a cottage in Exmoor.
It was fascinating to see his work close up and study how he applied the paint, and most of all, the careful preparation of drawings and sketches before he made the final paintings, which lost nothing of the initial energy and inspiration.
My own class was for drawing only, and we worked energetically through the stages of mark making and proportional principles to memory and personal expression. The following two days were a chance for the East Anglian painting group to work from real models, including Suffolk Punches and two driving ponies. Their handlers were dressed for the part in Edwardian outfits.