Where I am
Scotland, United Kingdom
Tell us a little about you, what is your background and where do you come from?
I live in a small rural village in East Ayrshire, Scotland. Robert Burns country, it’s mostly rich farm land with rolling fields and big skies. There is a never ending source of inspiration for me, you could say a painting in every corner.
I worked in the Design Studio of an International Textile company for twenty something years as a hand trialist but my artwork is primarily self-taught just learning as I’ve went along. In the early days I painted horses exclusively and the occasional dog but since becoming a professional artist in 1996 my horizons have broadened to include landscapes and even the occasional portrait.
When did you first start painting?
I really have no idea I think art has always been a part of me.
My Mother used to say that I could paint a horse that you knew was a horse from the age of four…but you know what Mum’s are like.
You paint more than just horses, what is your favourite subject?
Yes I also paint dogs, cattle, landscapes, seascapes and sometimes portraits but horses are and always will be my favourite subject.
What are your main artistic influences?
Not sure I really have any, I kinda do it my way. But I guess the likes of Sir Alfred Munnings, Susan Crawford and Peter Curling are names that jump off the top off my head. Munnings and Curling for their use of colour and movement and Susan Crawford for her attention to detail.
Over the years I’ve gone from realism (every hair) too gradually making my style looser…I’m still working on that…smile…but since I started painting landscapes it has definitely gone that way.
Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
Animals have always played a big part in my life, since ever I can remember. We have always had dogs but I was in my twenties before I got my first horse Rio or to give her her Sunday name Classy Lady. Rio was a scraggy thoroughbred foal I went to ‘look’ at but ended up buying.
This will sound strange to people who don’t have or know much about horses but I looked at the seven month old following around after her Mum and could see the horse she was going to be…and I was right, apart from winning at Royal Ascot or the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Then Tara arrived…she was ‘needed’ to keep Rio company she too bloomed into a swan from a duckling and is what I call a people horse…she adores people.
Sadly I lost Rio six years ago at the age of nineteen to kidney failure, it was devastating. Strangely you may think but I never painted Rio and one of the painting’s I’m working on at the moment is the first time I’ve used Tara as a model and she was fifteen this year. One of these days when I’m not painting other peoples horses I’ll get round to painting Rio and Tara.
Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art?
None that I can think of lol. After I’ve seen too Tara’s needs the dogs and I take our morning walk and that sets me up for the rest of the day.
There are days when I have to visit galleries or deliver paintings to clients and occasionally life gets in the way but there aren’t many days when I don’t spend some time at the easel.
Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
Guess that would be my morning walk and strange as it may seem when I’m mucking out lol.
What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in general?
It can only be good at helping more and more artists find a stage for their work.
Has it had an effect on yours?
Definitely….most of my commission work comes through word of mouth and now when people want to see examples of my work I just need to direct them too my website where they can see what I do and what my style is like.
I also find that I can keep a better record of the paintings I’ve done. I only started my Blog in January and wish I had done one sooner. Not only is it spreading my name out all over the world but I’ve found it encourages me to work more and aim to have something on the Blog each day for those following to see.
Which one is your personal favourite piece?
That’s a difficult one because they are all my babies lol. I guess each one you start is going to be the best you’ve ever done but I find towards the end I just want it finished so I can start the next.
The other week I delivered a painting to a lady who had bought another one of my paintings through a gallery. I rarely get to see paintings that are sold through a gallery and it was so strange walking into someone’s house and there was my painting on the wall.
One I’m particularly close too was of the Scottish chaser Silver By Nature I had painted his grand dam and here I was carrying on down the line…that gave me a lot of pleasure.
Would you ever sell it?
So far they’ve all been for sale.
What else are you passionate about?
I love taking photos but I’m strictly a point and hope photographer maybe someday I’ll take lessons.
Working on anything new?
Working on a large equine head study for a client plus the one I’m using Tara as my muse and I’ll be fitting in a few small paintings in between them.
More to Come
Thanks to Elizabeth for answering the interview and sharing her art. Be sure to subscribe to her art blog for updates about her latest works.
Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists and photographers.
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