© Amanda Griffey 2018

Reference photo by Lara Alma Surring.

Used with permission.

“Watchful” is available on multiple printed products. 

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Especially with horses, as they have the largest eyes of all land mammals. As a nearly life-long horse person, I was always fascinated with what seemed like a ‘deep well’ of a horses’ eye. You could look in it and see the horse, but you could also see your own reflection.


I stumbled across the photo reference for “Watchful” while looking for horse photos in a reference photo group on Facebook. While I have had horses nearly my entire life, I was never very good with a camera. and never got one of those stunning soul-searching photos of a horse’s eye. So, when I saw this one, I knew I had to draw it. The beautiful western “lone star” design on the bridle buckle made it even better. I also loved the well-worn texture of the leather and thought it would be a fun challenge to try to capture. 

The original photo by Lara Alma Surring, was in black and white, and while I could have created it in color, I loved the simplicity and solemn look of the black and white, so I decided to create it in pencil (graphite.) While I thought the bridle leather may be a challenge, the hair ended up being the biggest challenge. The hair direction changes several times on a horse’s face due to the underlying bone structure, and it took a little while to figure it all out. While it was challenging, I am happy with how it turned out though, especially the leather. I feel as if you could reach out and feel how soft and supple it is. 

“Watchful” has been very popular, but the original is still available. It is also available in prints, on mugs, and cards.