“Matoi and Lara Ames”
Oil on linen – 30 x 34 – Collection of Lara Ames
Matoi was a multi-Champion Park and Driving Arabian stallion and sire of many other fine performance horses. He was also much loved by the Ames family, particularly Lara who had ridden him to some of his wins. When he passed at age 30, Dick Ames called to commission a portrait of his daughter on Matoi as a surprise gift for her at Christmas. Starting with an excellent reference photo by photographer Howard Schatzberg, I made only a few small changes to make sure Matoi was presented in his best stride. But the original photo had been taken outside in an arena with a high, solid wood fence. I showed Dick several little oil sketches with different settings I imagined or adapted from photos of the Ames’ beautiful Minnesota river valley farm, Cedar Ridge Arabians. The idea using the road between the ponds with Matoi reflected in the water was the easy winner. Our next choice was to place the scene in autumn. Most daring, I will freely admit, was my decision to move the sun from behind the figures around to the front. I wanted more of Lara’s face in sunlight and more detail and shine on Matoi. My thanks to Dick Ames for entrusting me to paint his daughter and this remarkable little stallion.
Oil on linen – 17 x 11 inches – Private Collection
Included in the 2016 American Academy of Equine Art’s spring invitational exhibition.
I hadn’t painted Saddlebreds in a long time so I attended a show at the Minnesota Fairgrounds to study them and take photographs. I combined several of my references to create this proud head portrait. Tip: if you want to make sure your values are conveying good form and light, take a photo of the painting and convert it to gray scale. If it still works well minus all color, you’re good to go.
Early Morning at the Horse Show
Oil on linen – 27 x 25 inches
Selected for the 2015/2016 Society of Animal Artists annual exhibition and national tour
The splashes of sunlight in the midst of deep shadow stopped me in my tracks as this Percheron was being bathed. Then the sprayer mist caught the sun just coming over the building. Magic! I took photos for reference but I also stood and stared, trying to commit to memory the values and colors in front of me that I would need if I’d have any chance of recreating this scene.
Oil on linen – 24 x 16 inches
Winner of The Kasper Foundation Equine Art Award at the 2005 American Academy of Equine Art juried show.
Winner of Best In Show and the WRVAG Founder’s Award at the 2010 Wind River Valley Artist’s Guild 61st National Show.
This was the second equine painting I did after graduating from The Atelier. It was almost startling to me how much more accomplished this painting felt than any equine piece I had done before I found the school. Then the painting began to win awards which only confirmed I wasn’t imagining the improvement in my skills. I can’t thank this classic instruction enough for how it transformed my ability to see Nature and then paint it.
One Summer Evening
Oil on linen – 28 x 32 inches
I attended a workshop on photographing horses. At day’s end, as the light turned golden, our horse and rider models rode to a large pond. Only Natalie took Daisy into the water. After several trips that went out further and deeper, there was a big splash and her high laughter as the pony went galloping back to the barn alone.
The Calling Mare
Oil on linen – 9 x 15 inches – Private Collection
This bay Arabian mare was one of the Gamaar daughters owned by a couple I knew in Minnesota when I was first showing my art at local horse shows. I was welcomed to their home frequently and over the years have used a number of the photos I took of their beautiful horses as references for pastels and oils.
Waiting in the Wind
Oil on mounted linen – 22 x 16 inches
Art Renewal Center, International 2010/2011 ARC Salon, Finalist: Animals
This painting was inspired by a slide I took many years ago at a friend’s farm. I loved the gentle reach of the horse’s head. I imagined the eyes were watching the house, hoping a favorite person might decide it was dinner time. The painting felt flat at first but I followed the advice of an artist I admire: if things aren’t working, try waking up the painting with some splashes of color. That worked and the painting sailed along to completion.
Oil on linen – 24 x 20 inches – Private Collection
Winner of The Sam Savitt Award at the 2006 American Academy of Equine Art juried show.
Cover art on Horses In Art magazine, Spring, 2007.
This painting started with a small, poorly focused snapshot I took inside a barn aisle many years ago. The filly’s head was a blur because she moved just as I snapped the shutter and there was a person in the foreground blocking part of the aisle but I had to paint this scene about light and mood. I was particularly humbled that Nosy received the Sam Savitt Award from the AAEA show because he was a childhood horse artist hero of mine.
The Expectant Mothers
Oil on linen – 24 x 18 inches
Winner of The Kasper Foundation Equine Art Award at the 2006 American Academy of Equine Art juried show.
Only the Arabian mare was pregnant when I took a series of afternoon photos at this farm. I know the woman wasn’t expecting but as I later worked on this piece, I thought how interesting it would be if she was pregnant but didn’t yet know it. And perhaps the mare already sensed their sisterhood. It became the story in my head that led to the title.
Sable and Silver
Oil on mounted linen – 16 x 20 inches
This painting had no photo reference but I designed it to have two things I love. One is the exuberance of horses at liberty in a pasture, particularly the young ones who find imaginative ways to cover ground. I also love subjects and scenes that are backlit. There can be such intensity when sun comes through hair or grass or leaves. Both the color and quality of the light changes.
Irish Winter Frolic
Oil on linen – 16 x 25 inches – Private Collection
Pat’s Irish Draught, Dillon, was a pretty laid-back gelding. But one morning he was turned loose in a paddock deep with fresh snow and luckily there was a video running. He dug in and went into his big dressage trot as he charged along the fence. Even though he was in winter coat, Pat decided this was perfect for a portrait of him. Frankly it was fun to paint fuzz.
Goose and Becca
Oil on linen – 20 x 16 – Private Collection
I met Becca’s husband at the Arabian Scottsdale show and we talked about a portrait. From then on it was all long-distance but many commissions are. We were able to work back and forth by email and phone until his present to her was finished and ready to ship.
Above All Else
Oil on linen – 30 x 42 inches – Private Collection
Susan and Gibraltar were an effervescent force, each making the other more happy. It was a joy to watch them together. We were only to the stage of the large preliminary drawing when Susan notified me that her beloved stallion had died. We paused briefly, then kept going. When I began the painting, in the first layer of his dark paint, I scattered a tiny bit of Gibraltar’s ashes. Susan has concerned about having the painting after his loss but later told me she ended up talking to him every day.
Oil on linen – 17 x 16 inches – Private Collection
Trish had lost her Belgian/Thoroughbred hunt horse, Gund, to cancer. But with lots of photos and her comments on my pencil sketches and color studies, we created a painting of him. She wrote to me, “The portrait arrived safely and I am speechless. It is truly amazing. Now I can’t wait until the framing is done. It will be so good to have him be the first thing I see each time I open the front door. Thank you, again.”
Four Heads Down
Oil on linen – 24 x 46 inches – Private Collection
Lois and Jim had me come to their place in Texas for the better part of a week to photograph, spend time with, do studies of and even ride their four boys. It was as much vacation as business trip. They had previously lost a much-loved horse so they knew what they wanted in the portrait: if everyone is safe and calm, then all four heads will be down.
Belly Up to the Bar, Boys!
Oil on linen – 15 x 30 inches – Private Collection
While visiting in Texas for Four Heads Down, I had done some sketches of the way the boys lined up along the fence to wait for pets and treats. Jim had me secretly design and paint a second portrait of that scene for Lois’ Christmas present. It worked. She said he’d never in all their years of marriage been so successful at totally surprising her. She hadn’t had a clue.
A Distant Horn
Oil on linen – 22 x 36 inches
Included in the Cross Gate Gallery 2007 Masters of Foxhounds Centennial Tour.
Included in the 2010 American Academy of Equine Art’s spring invitational exhibition.
The original photograph that inspired this painting was of a stallion at liberty who turned when someone led a mare out of the barn across the pond. I was so taken with the unexpected image of his head facing opposite of his own body that I knew I had to paint it. But I added tack and decided that he was responding to the sound of a distant hunting horn.
Late Summer Sonata
Oil on linen – 20 x 12 inches – Private Collection
It is remarkably gratifying to the artist when a painting you have done suddenly exerts such an emotional hold on a person that they can’t walk away. It happened with this white mare and the woman who has now given her a very loving home. It can be hard to part with a painting but not when you know it will be so cherished.
Oil on linen – 24 x 20
First Place, Oil, Professional Category at the Wind River Artists’ Guild 62nd Annual Show in Wyoming.
I hadn’t done a Western scene in a long time when I created this painting from my imagination and several photographs I had taken on a long-ago trip out west. I wanted to design a good rock formation up in the high country as a protective nursery for this very alert wild Mustang’s paint foal.