Exploring colorful horse art

When I was a young girl, I was obsessed with horses, and not just My Little Ponies, but that was a big part of it! My room was decorated with horses and unicorns and I was constantly making horse art. I’m sure it started with coloring books, then there was the barnyard scene I won an elementary school art show award for, and then books that showed me how to draw horses. From that point on, I drew horse after horse. I wish I still had some of those drawings, because not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty sure they were really good.

But at some point my tastes changed, I probably got too cool for school, and my love for horses faded into a memory. I had enough other things on my mind for so many years, I didn’t even think twice about horses until one day a couple years ago. My daughter and I were walking a local trail that happened to meander by a ranch or stable of some sort and I heard neighing in the distance that stopped me in my tracks. I looked at my daughter in excitement and said ” there’s horses over here! Let’s go see!” She kinda shrugged (she was currently too cool for school) but humored me as we walked to the edge of the trail and peered over the ridge to the valley below where I watched horses run around gracefully and make all their cute horsey noises and I was just elated!

Skyler and me on a walk

Something changed in me that day – it woke up that childlike wonder from that little girl that used to love horses so much. I went home and began researching horseback riding in my area, but couldn’t find anything I was ready to commit to. Instead, I found a random horse photo on Google, and sketched it. I wasn’t even really practicing art at the time but had some old drawing pencils and sketchbook that got the job done.

Horse art  graphite sketch

Not much longer after that encounter, I was on a girls hiking trip in Colorado and finally got my riding fix! A few of us reserved a two-hour horseback ride through the foothills and aspens and an amazing place called Rusty Spur Ranch. We didn’t have to ride nose to tail and were able to spread out, which was so much more relaxing.

Horseback riding in Colorado

My horse, Rosie, was a little sassy and very hungry, so she gave me quite the challenge as she wanted to stop and eat the whole time or just blaze her own trail. But it was everything I wanted that experience to be – all my favorites in one place: friends, horses, and mountains.

Rosie and me after our ride

My Colorado trips were a catalyst to inspire my art making – I had three trips that summer and came back from the third, started painting and haven’t stopped since. But it took me awhile to get back to making horse art. I’ve been so busy with pet portrait paintings, I’ve mostly experimented with abstract art in between just to change things up and keep things interesting.

But about a month ago, I was working on some small wood blocks, mostly abstract stuff, and wanted to try my hand at small figurative pieces. So I did a mountain goat, and then a mountain horse. I loved it! I knew immediately I wanted to make more colorful horse art.

Colorful  horse art on small wood block

Queue last night, I was messing around with some watercolor brush pens, trying to sort of learn watercolor, when I decided a horse needed to be my subject. I found a stock photo I loved, a 12” x 12” acrylic paper, and began sketching that horse with a fine tip. I really don’t know how to watercolor paint, and I don’t think this counts as it’s more like drawing and then adding water. But I like the effects, and I’m definitely looking into experimenting with actual watercolors in the near future. I did struggle to deal with contrast – the lights and darks that add drama to a painting, so I incorporated some oil pastels to finish my colorful horse art.

Colorful horse art  with mixed media

I’m thrilled with how this mixed media horse art turned out, and am already envisioning a series of colorful horse paintings of the same size and media. I also ordered a few large canvas from Michael’s Black Friday sale, so I’m definitely thinking some large colorful horse art is in my future! I’ve loved revisiting my childhood love for this amazing animal and creating horse artwork!

If you are a horse lover, let’s chat about a custom horse portrait commission! I’d love to work with you, so contact me here!

2 Comments

  1. Cliff Kelley says:

    Loved reading this!

    Remember our family vacation when we did the trail ride? You were probably about 13 years old. The noteworthy thing from that ride was getting caught in the hail storm and having to stand beside your horse and calm it with your voice and touch as both of you were being pelted by hail stones!

    Your Aunt Karen would be interested in this also!

    Love,
    Dad

  2. I do remember the Royal Gorge ride! Such a cool experience – one I’d like to do again, minus the hail of course 😉

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