Horse Artist Interview – Fiona Purdy

Portrait of A LadyName
Fiona Purdy

Website & places you can find my work online
BRIO fine arts centre: Fiona’s Member Gallery
Facebook: Fiona Purdy
Fans of Fiona Purdy’s Equine Art Facebook group

Where I am
Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I was born in the US, however, my family moved to New Zealand when I was 8. It was there that my passion for horses took hold.

In New Zealand most little girls are horse mad (I was no exception) and many had their own horses. I, alas, did not, as my parents couldn’t afford it. So my sister and I were very enterprising and boldly befriended as many of the local horse farms & breeders as we could.

And lucky for us they allowed us free rein on their properties. In looking back, I realize just how patient and so kind they were to us, they never made us feel like we were a bother or were getting in their way.

We didn’t get to ride much but no matter, we’d walk or bike for many miles just to be around the horses, any horse would do really. And that was the basis for my lifelong passion for these fabulous animals.

Like Mother Like Daughter

When did you first start painting horses?
You know, I really can’t remember exactly when I started. My Mum says that from an early age I drew & painted animals, but I guess that those visits to the farms were when I started drawing and painting horses almost exclusively.

All those hours spent just hanging out at the farms was my education in knowing how a horse was “put” together. It wasn’t like I purposely studied them, it was like osmosis, it just happened.

I still paint other animals (I paint pet portraits) but all of my original art is of horses and the occasional mule or burro (cos they are just so darn cute!)

What medium do you work in?
I use acrylics because they dry fast.

My work is very detailed and I get very impatient waiting for paint to dry.

I also paint on watercolor canvas. It’s an amazing support, with a very fine texture and practically indestructible. I can scrub the paint into the surface very hard and it will not shred.

Did you study art at school or college?
No I’m completely self-taught. I am planning on taking a few classes and workshops, probably some classes to expand my creativity.

Champion 1st Time Out

How long have you been a professional equine artist?
I didn’t paint for a very long time, once I got into my teenage years it went by the wayside. Then I got married and got a “normal” job.

Oh, I pulled out the art supplies every now and then, but making a living as a full-time artist wasn’t a common thing like it is now, you were encouraged to get a “sensible” job.

It wasn’t until about ten years ago I started painting seriously again, selling my art part-time while working at my corporate job. I really hated my job and was very unhappy, but it was a scary thought to give up a steady paycheck.

Well early last year I got laid off and since then I’ve been a full time professional equine artist! It’s pushed me waaaay beyond my comfort zone, bur it’s been so much fun!

Baddiyah Baraka

You paint a lot of arabians, are they your favorite breed?
My very first visit to an Arabian horse trainers open house clinched it for me. Of course these events are all about selling horses so the horses are groomed to the max. Well when the first horse came out, I gasped. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

The horse floated past me (those of you that have spent time around Arabians know what I mean). Then he was turned out into a smallish pen where he put on quite a show. Snorting and blowing, tail flagged, beauty and grace personified. I’ve been obsessed with painting them ever since.

I love all horses, but I must admit that Arabians are my favorite to paint. I call them the fashion models of the horse world.

Lucky for me that dozens of the world’s top Arabian breeding and training facilities are here in Scottsdale and just a few miles from my house. So my life has come full circle and I once again I find myself hanging out at horse farms on a regular basis. But at least now I get to drive to them!!

However, this year I am painting other breeds. While I still have a ton of ideas for future Arabian paintings, I have to be realistic and increase my customer base if I want to continue making my living as a full time artist.

I just finished painting my first paint horse. It was so much fun and I’m looking forward to meeting and learning all about different breeds.

Precious Gift

Who are your main influences?
I’m not sure, I guess Robert Bateman. I love realism. Maybe instead of who, I can answer WHAT were my main influences. I did a lot of graphic art in my corporate job, which I really loved and definitely have an interest in.

I have a unique style in my paintings and the borders I paint around the horses are the way I get to indulge in both the fine art style of the horse and graphic elements in the borders. In all truth it is very easy for me to paint the horse, it’s the border that really makes it all interesting, creative and challenging for me.

I have fun deciding on the right border for that particular horse. The stallions have to have a masculine border, while the babies have to have a really soft border. And my borders are really starting to evolve and have meaning to each horse.

Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
Well my paintings are based on real horses, so I guess each one has been my muse for that painting. I have to be passionate about that horse or I won’t paint it.

I try really hard to capture each one’s amazing personality both in my painting of it and in the border, which compliments and conveys their personality as well.

Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art?
No secret rituals I’m afraid. I am a terrible procrastinator (I’m still trying to figure out why though I understand that it’s a common thing with artists).

So it’s just a matter of forcing myself to pick up a brush and get started. Once I’ve started then I’m ok and I don’t want to stop. Then I have to discipline myself to paint again the very next day. If I let a few days go by, then it’s back to square one. Crazy huh?

Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
Any horse show I go to, but especially the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. I live just minutes away from where it’s held. I can even walk there it’s that close.

If you’ve ever been to the show you know what I mean! Over 2,000 of the country’s best Arabians all in peak condition. WOW!

Stepping Out

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in general?
A huge effect, and one that is still in its infancy. I believe that it is one of the most important things to happen to the art world. It’s changing everything. Everything!

Artists can now take control of their own careers, instead of relying on others. It’s opened the entire world up to us. It’s a goldmine of free information on just about anything you want to know about. Not only can we sell our work through any number of ways on-line, we can also actively participate in the on-line artist community, networking and sharing and supporting one another. ?

Has it had an effect on yours?
Has it ever! It’s so important to the marketing and selling my art. I connect with people all over the world. I have a place where anyone in the whole world can go to see my work and buy it.

I communicate with & market my work to my clients and people interested in my work via my regular e-newsletter, which saves me a whole lot of money. I connect with people thru on-line horse related websites, such as this one. I buy my art supplies over it. I can learn anything I want to on it, and most of the time for free.

And most importantly I get to meet and connect with my fellow artists and become part of the community, which is relay important. I’m now easily able to meet people I’ve always wanted to meet. Things would be so much harder for me without the internet.

Breaking Through

Which one is your personal favorite piece?
My favorite piece is “Breaking Through”. I managed to portray everything I love about this Arabian stallion. His strength, power, grace, his “studliness”, blasting right out of the border, larger than life, in your face, comin’ at ya! How glorious he is and he knows it!

Would you ever sell it?
It will be hard, but yes it is for sale. I believe that I’ve been given this talent to paint not for me but for the joy it brings to others. Once I’ve finished a piece it’s then time for it to go to its new home so that it can delight its owner every time they look at it.

What else are you passionate about?
Marketing my work, but that’s another long story!

Suffice to say I love marketing and selling my work almost as much as I love to paint. It’s quite the challenge.

I also like to encourage other artists about marketing their work and I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned and my experiences with other artists. And of course I’m really passionate about my husband, Gary and my wirefox terrier Casey.

Who Are You

Working on anything new?
Of course! I’ve got a gazillion ideas for paintings up here in the old noggin, and it’s always so hard to decide on which one to paint next.

Too many paintings and not enough time!! I’ve just started on a great one of three donkeys. It’s a big one too – 40” x 30”. You’ll just have to wait for me to post it on my website to see it finished – or better yet email me to sign up for my newsletter at to be one of the first to see it!

Thank you Paige for this chance to talk about my work and share it with your readers, it’s been a great interview.

More to Come

Thanks to Fiona for answering the interview and sharing her art. Be sure to check her art website perioically for updates about her latest works.

Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists and photographers.

Are you a horse artist or do you know an equine artist you’d like to see featured? Add your name and website in the comments below or drop me a note to get involved.

15 Comments on “Horse Artist Interview – Fiona Purdy

  1. Meralee Watson

    Fiona’s artwork is 10X as beautiful in person!The detail is amazing! And she is a great person!

  2. Rita

    I met Fiona at the Scottsdale art show and immediately felt like I’ve known her all my life. She is a great lady and a truly speaks for the animals she paints.Rita

  3. Renee Hunt

    What a lovely interview Fiona, and I realized that as artists you and I have a TON in common! I, too, share the occasional difficulty in picking up the brush to start, but like you, once I start I often can’t bring myself to stop! It’s a great comfort to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way!

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this piece, thanks for sharing the link with us!

  4. Diana Ferguson

    Fiona, this is a GREAT interview. It totally reflects the fun, vivacious and intellectually curious artist I had the pleasure of being neighbors with at the Arizona Fine Art EXPO!

  5. Fiona Purdy

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments about me, I am blushing. Diana you probably could have done the interview in my place after being with me for 10 weeks at EXPO. You’ve heard most of my story many times.

    Renee – it was a wonderful thing to find out that I was far from being the only artist with a procrastination problem. The thing is trying to figure out why each of us does procrastinate. And even knowing why doesn’t stop it LOL!

    Rita – I’m glad that you felt so comfortable talking to me, I hope that every one I talked to felt that way.

    Everyone thanks for taking the time to read my interview and for your wonderful support.

  6. Karen Slagle

    You are so talented and do such outstanding work. I so enjoyed learning more about you in your interview. Keep up your inspiring art.
    Karen Slagle

  7. Fiona Purdy

    Thank you Karen, that is a compliment coming from such a talented artist as you. I appreciate you taking the time to read my interview. And I want you to keep up your inspiring art too!

  8. Dreaming of Friesians

    You have such a talent! Wild and wonderful. I love “Breaking Through”! Wow.

  9. Fiona Purdy

    Thank you so much for your wonderful comment about my work Dreaming. It is always nice to hear favorable things about my work.
    I must admit Breaking Through is my favorite too!



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