Friday, June 27, 2014

Parade of Wild Horses

Dead Horse Mesa - SOLD 2011
10 x 18 Mixed Media

A friend, in a casual conversation over coffee, asked me if I ever painted horses. I replied not since I was 16. And what girl does not paint or draw horses in her youth? But I was growing bored with subject matter for paintings and it seemed a possibility. I borrowed a skull from a friend, and inspired by the story of Dead Horse Mesa which I had visited in Utah I began to sketch. And photograph.


I didn't want to do just another western wild horse painting. So Dead Horse Mesa contained just skulls taken from my photographic study of Horace, the borrowed horse skull. Frankly, I was rather surprised when my small study sold almost immediately. So did a matted and framed photograph of Horace to another patron. Encouraged I painted another version. Hey, Monet did lots of lily pads.

14 x 31 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
I liked the new painting a lot and decided to venture into whole horses. And a day time paint scheme. And hence Spirit Run which has become my brand on my various social media and on rack cards and advertising. I always thought Stampede fit better but it could be seen as more macabre while Spirit Run was more positive and lively.

Spirit Run
14 x 30 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
When I gathered both of these two paintings to be inventoried and packed for the trip to Trinidad for my first show in Colorado I noticed they were mislabeled. I always sign my paintings on the back canvas edge to avoid confusion but the framing had partly obscured the names. Spirit Run gets lots of positive feed back and I have actually considered making a poster out of it since it is so identified with my studio. It was also the beginning of playing with oil sticks. Up to that point my paintings were watercolor with ink (mixed media unless you are Chinese and then just plain watercolor). The oil stick addition made them truly mixed media.

Artists, it is believed, repeat a theme because they have not totally explored it fully. Ergo Degas and his dancers and Monet and his lily ponds, Van Gogh and his fields of grain. Me and missions and canyons. Though you can also argue it is because what is in their world. Running horses really are not in mine. Lots of just standing ones which I have photographed for reference. But then I must also assume melting clocks were not in Dali's world either - at least the solid world. 

Mystic Mustangs - SOLD 2014
19 X 44 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas

When I began Mystic Mustangs this spring Dead Horse Mesa was the only horse picture I had sold. You could argue I was the only one captured by my wild horses but Mystic Mustangs sold with in days of its completion. I might even have been able to create a bidding war for it. It was one of the most expensive and largest paintings I had done. It also used a lot more oil stick in the foreground. It doesn't take a lot to encourage an artist so All My Pretty Ponies.

All My Pretty Ponies
19 x 29 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
I probably spent more time "researching" this composition than any of the previous horse pictures since Horace and Dead Horse Mesa. And let me say a great thank you to Google Images. I sat in front of the computer for days with my sketch book going through the thousands of images of running horses. This was designed to be a study for a larger painting (22 x 46) with more horses. And I had stretched the canvas and begun working on the sketch for the bigger painting while still painting All My Pretty Ponies. Before I was done with that sketch I began work on a smaller horse painting Tres Amigos.

Tres Amigos
20 x 20 Mixed Media on the Diagonal

I used Tres Amigos to explore some of the coloring and techniques I wanted to utilize in the planned larger painting. In that sense Tres Amigos is another study. Artists are always studying. And as studies are generally smaller on scale and therefore less expensive it is a great opportunity for patrons. Tres Amigos also was test of night sky vs day sky.

So now to the main event: Meraki Mustangs.

Meraki Mustangs
22 x 46 Mixed Media on Canvas
I have done a couple bigger paintings but have never made such extensive use of oil. Watercolor could almost be considered just an under-painting for the main subjects. I have not painted in oil since my college days. I have stayed away from it because of a toxic reaction to solvents. But the oil sticks and new solvent free oils have allowed a return for may artists to this medium. Will I go totally oil? I do not think so. I still like the effects I can get with liquid watercolors and their brightness. The sky, mountains, sun, and foreground effects are all watercolor. But the oil adds texture and richness. And takes a really long time to dry.

I will be doing a Creative Process blog later about the painting of Meraki Mustangs. And unless sold before they are packed all the parade of horses will be on display at Gallery Main for the month of July. Opening reception is the 11th from 5 to 7. Stay in touch daily with my continuing artistic explorations at Binford-Bell Studio on Facebook by becoming a fan of my page.


  1. I enjoyed reading about the journey of your horse paintings from "Dead Horse Mesa" to "Meraki Mustangs. I love all your horse paintings. As I have said before, you are the most creative artist I know. Your work is wonderful.


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.