willow the wonder pony

Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Illustration, Maine College of Art | 4 comments

The Illustration Department at Maine College of Art believes in drawing, big time. This year (almost) every class began with observational studies during the first fifteen minutes. The arrival of Willow the Wonder Pony on Tuesday brought the semester to an epic finale, complete with hay.


Meaghan Martin and illustration senior Molly Blyth-Olson brought their miniature pony from the Gorham Equestrian Center to a third floor drawing room via the freight elevator. Willow calmly munched while students drew from all angles.

Molly said, “Willow’s 10 years old, and we rescued her from a kill pen in Pennsylvania (a kill pen is a type of auction where the animals are either privately rescued, as was the case with Willow, or they are sold for the price of meat and shipped off to Canada or Mexico).  We believe her to be a miniature horse crossed with another small pony breed (mini horse/shetland pony, potentially) but we don’t really have any way of finding out.  She’s a mutt!”

When Meaghan and Molly found Willow, she was not in ideal condition. They’ve worked hard to bring her back to her full glory.

Students drew on sharp observation skills and their keen imaginations.


Word spread: Willow has a new fan base!



Cecil Cates added extra wonder to his drawing.


Isaac Hilyard quickly captured Willow’s posture.


Drawing a moving creature is a challenge. Finding the form takes time.



Willow has such a gentle expression!




Here Abbie Masso works in extra detail.


Coral Howe finds an elegant line.


Willow was only mildly curious about her audience. Issac Hilyard roughed out her silhouette.


I drew in the sketchbook I made for this semester.


While working on my very first picture book, Maddie’s Magical Ride, I learned every  horse has a distinct character. In Jeanann Alves’ story about Dumpling, a miniature pony, the animals have adventures all over Peaks Island. Below, Dumpling takes his nightly place as the gatekeeper of the barn.


In less than an hour, Willow was sweating. Not so much from modeling, but from the indoor warmth. Our time was running out. Meaghan and Molly invited students to come pat Willow. Anabelle Souza’s expression is evidence that Willow gives fine fur therapy!

As Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”


Willow completely charmed us all. Drawing live yields a respect for the challenges of seeing not only the form but the spirit of a subject.

Hearty thanks to Meaghan and Molly for sharing Willow with the Illustration Department!



  1. The peaceable kingdom captured. I love Cecil Cates and Isaac Hilyard’s sketches and kudos to all the artists for catching in line this beautiful creature.

    • I am so grateful for your reading of my post, and appreciating my students’ work. We’re all in this drawing game together!

  2. Thanks for sharing Willow’s story and her visit to your class. What an incredible gift on so many levels. “Life drawing” at it’s finest. I love that nobody said “no”. Kudos Jamie. Your students are so very lucky to have you for their teacher.

  3. Thanks, Peg! Your comment is appreciated, and I am the lucky one.
    MECA students never cease to amaze me.

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