National Gallery of Ireland at Home: Mainie's Mares

Semi-abstract oil painting of horses in motion
Mainie Jellett (1897-1944), Achill Horses, 1941. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.Credit

Follow this step by-step video to learn how to create your own drawing inspired by Mainie Jellett's painting Achill Horses (1941).

Mainie Jellett (1897–1944) was a very famous Irish artist. She painted in a cubist style, breaking things down into geometric shapes. Take a look at her painting, above. Can you spot four different shapes?

Now, let's get started on our drawing!

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National Gallery at Home

Mainie's Mares




  1. Start by bringing your pencil for a walk across the page. Use curved and straight lines to create different shapes.
  2. Download and print out this page of horses. You can use it to trace the horses, or you can look at the line drawings to help you draw your own.
  3. If you want to trace: select a horse on the print out, flip the page over and scribble over the horse on the back of the page using a dark pencil.
  4. Turn the print out over, and place it with the scribbled side down on your drawing.
  5. Use a sharp pencil to trace the outline of the horse. This tracing process creates a ghost image of a horse on the page underneath.
  6. You can also draw the horses freehand, if you prefer!
  7. Draw at least three horses of different scales, putting the biggest one at the front.
  8. Now it's time to colour in! Try to use a different colour in each shape, like Mainie.
  9. You can mix or blend two colours together.
  10. You can make a dark tone by leaning heavily on the pencil or crayon.
  11. Keep going until all of the shapes are filled with colour.
  12. Take your time and have fun!


Created by artist Sarah Edmondson for the National Gallery of Ireland.

Music: 'Rhythm of Memories' by Earth. 

This activity, which would normally have taken place in the Maples Group Creative Space, is now brought to you online.

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