I have been a member of Artists for Conservation (formerly The Worldwide Nature Artists Group) for quite a few years now. Two years ago, they instituted a recognition program called “The Conservation Artist Award”. One artist a month is chosen, which qualifies one for the Simon Combes Award at the end of the year. And (drum roll!) I’ve been chosen as the artist for March! Go to http://www.natureartists.com and you’ll see a box on the right hand side with my picture. It’s really an honor since the organization is now approaching 500 members.
Also, today I got my acceptance letter for the Marin Art Festival, so I’ll be at The Civic Center Lagoon, Mill Valley, June 14-15. I’m really excited to have gotten in on my first try. I’ll be publishing my full festival and show schedule as soon as all the info rolls in.
I recently had the privilege of doing a portrait of Cosimo, a Holsteiner imported from Germany for Grand Prix jumping events. He had some leg and foot problems, as it turned out, but with time and care it looks like he is back on track. His owner said that she would probably only really be seeing him in the arena, so she wanted a painting of him relaxing during his “down” time. Knowing that she grew up on a ranch in Ventura county, I couldn’t resist letting inspiration from the early California landscape painters take over. For Cosimo himself, I spent 90 minutes sketching and photographing him in an exercise paddock last spring.
The interesting parts of painting Cosimo were the getting the shape around his eye right, since it really gave him a distinctive expression, and the top of his shoulders (withers, I guess, to be technically accurate), which were huge in comparison to other horses I have seen. I’ve never done a horse portrait before and spent a lot of time doing preliminary drawings and even a small study in oil to make sure that I captured an accurate likeness of a head that, in the finished painting, is less than 2″ long. I enjoyed getting that glossy sheen on his coat, too.
He isn’t what I would consider a pretty or beautiful horse, like an arabian, but even during the short time I had with him, I got a sense of a horse with quiet dignity and strength of mind. Not someone you’d joke around with. He apparently has a solid competitive drive too, which he’ll need.
The background elements include an oak tree, a sycamore, California poppies and a sprinkling of lupine, which are all plants the client grew up with. The quail were added for fun and to provide a narrative element.
The original is a 16″x20″ oil on canvas on board. My client is very pleased, which, of course, makes me very happy!