Horse Artist Interview – Judy Wood

Starlight by MoonlightName
Judy Wood

Website & places you can find my work online

Where I am
Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I have always lived in Saskatoon, a small city person by upbringing but with a lot of “country” and nature in my life experience.

I think I was born loving art and horses, but it took a while for the two to come together in my life and work.

I have always done artwork of one sort or another, but was in my mid-thirties (I’m 61 now) before I learned to ride and became a functioning “horse person”. I took my university degree with a major in fine arts (back when the earth was cooling) and worked in a variety of art media before arriving at my current work-life which is based in photography and digitally altered photo images.

As far as photography and photo manipulation go, I am totally self-taught, for better or for worse. I think I’ve spent the past few decades waiting for the digital age to arrive so I could be part of it with my art-work. Strangely, before I went “high tech” with my visuals, I did glass mosaic work for many years, a medium that has been around for about 5000 years.

Approaching The Herd

When did you take your first picture?
Too long ago to remember! I do remember being given my first SLR (film in those days) when I was in my early twenties.

What kind of camera do you use?
I have always been a Nikon shooter, from that original used Nikon SLR film camera through to my current digital Nikon D200 (and am eyeballing the D700!)

Prairie Echoes

If you could pick any camera (regardless of price) what would it be?
I’m not a “tech” photographer, rather an artist who uses a camera and Photoshop as her art medium, so I’m pretty happy with the systems I have, although there are always upgrades to tempt me, both in camera bodies, lenses, and Photoshop/image manipulation systems.

Is there a particular technique that you use to achieve the unique look of your photographs?
The “art” shots tend to be reworked in the computer, often very heavily (as in the photomontages) where I will extract single elements from many photos to create an entirely new image, using Photoshop for image manipulation and reworking.

Each new image requires its own approach in what I do and how I do it, so I don’t have a set technique, rather I evolve the image over time and usually through a lot of trial and error.

I often start out with only a vague direction in mind, never with a finished product already visualized, and the images can change dramatically from where they started before they tell me they are done.

Mare Herd in Winter

Who are your main influences?
I’m not aware that I have any particular influences as regards my work, although I do have a good working knowledge of art history (not photography history, strangely) and doubtless there are forces that have shaped my vision and how I achieve it. I try *not* to be influenced by contemporary art photographers who use similar techniques to mine, as I don’t want to create derivative works, even if only subconsciously.

What made you first start photographing horses?
I likely started (this is going back a few years here!!) with my own first horse when I was in my thirties, then when others found out I could do an adequate job with a camera, I started doing photos for friends and clients as well. These were pretty standard garden-variety photos.

It’s only in the last three or so years that I developed some Photoshop skills so that I could use my photos for more serious art-style photos. I still do client shots of the standard sort and enjoy capturing the image and the action of whatever equine activity is happening in front of me.

Starlight by Moonlight

Your favorite horse breed?
For owning and riding, I’ve been converted to Warmbloods, but I enjoy doing photography of pretty well any breed or type of horse. Of course the dramatic breeds such as the Friesians, Andalusians, and Gypsy cobs are always a pleasure to photograph, although I don’t see as many representatives of these breeds in my area as I would like to.

Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
My personal muse in art and life is my Canadian Warmblood, Alpac. In addition to being a wonderful riding horse, he happens to be large, black and beautiful, so he shows up in my work quite often.

Snowy Solitude

Where were you the most inspired, but without a camera?
This happens regularly, when I am driving or out somewhere and see something that would be wonderful to photograph, but I don’t have my camera at hand.

I think of myself as being a kind of “walking eye” so I find visual inspiration pretty well everywhere. Sadly, a lot of those potential images end up as “the ones that got away” since I just can’t have my camera with me all the time, although I do give it a pretty good try.

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art and photography in general?
The Internet has already had a huge effect in that we are no longer “regional” in the audience we can reach out to. Effectively the whole world can now see the images we create and display online.

Yearlings Spook

Has it had an effect on yours?
The internet is a major force in my art life, not so much for sales, which still tend to be of the “face to face” sort either at shows or in my studio, but for the ability to showcase my work to a large audience and get feedback from them.

I have connected with other horse artists from around the world via membership in the Equine Art Guild, and I use the internet to keep me aware of what is happening in the way of art shows and competitions, not to mention Googling for techniques and tutorials to help my learning process with both the photography and with Photoshop.

I also have a blog which showcases some of my “other” photo images and talks about my daily life here in the Canadian prairies, and I continue to be astonished at the world-wide (every continent except Antarctica) readership that is reflected in my blog stats.

Dark Angels

Which one is your personal favorite image?
Usually either the one I have just completed, or the one I am currently working on. “Dark Angels”, though, is one of the first in the current series I am working on, and features my own horse, so it has the edge at the moment.

What else are you passionate about?
I’m keen on all animals, the natural world, books, learning, gardening, and of course riding–not necessarily in that order!!

Gypsy Moon

More to Come

Thanks to Judy 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.
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.

7 Comments on “Horse Artist Interview – Judy Wood

  1. delia

    Hi Judy…love your interview! You know I love your style, you have such a great imagination, and all your works tell a story, and that’s what I like…keep am coming!

  2. Cindy

    Judy’s work has a very distinct fantasy and mystical flavour. Works so well especially with capturing the dramatic motion of running horses

  3. VJ

    Judy you have always been so talented, and how beautiful it is that your passion for horses was never outgrown! You have given us such wonderful art and I treasure especially the mosaic you did of my fabulous dog Ziggy. It still hangs in my window where I can see it every day even though Ziggy has been gone for years, and it is a comfort. You really caught his personality! Congratulations on this charming interview, and all your success!
    Love, VJ

  4. Charmaine

    Awesome….must tell all that Judy has shot some of the nicest and most unique photos I’ve seen at the horse shows…not just the “equine” standard…but some glorious inspirational photos to cherish a lifetime.

  5. Dreaming of Friesians

    STUNNING artwork!!!! OMG! Wow….How did you do it? I know…it was magic! Awesome to say the least!

  6. Laura Irvine

    The one with the buffalo definitely spoke to me. I tried to capture all these elements in a painting that I did for my mother of her mustang mare, Cherokee. Cherokee was a buckskin. Here is the poem I wrote about her.
    My Cherokee

    A truer friend I never had,
    my sister of the Oregon Plains.
    I found her there and took her home to be my own,
    my Cherokee.
    A coat of bronze she wore,
    with mane as black as ebony.
    A heart of courage she did have,
    my own, my Cherokee.
    As one we conquered mountain tops and rivers, bears and rains.
    Not once did I fear anything,
    on my true Cherokee.
    She bore a chest of the native breast,
    close to the Eagle and Buffalo.
    Proud, strong and true she carried me,
    my own dear Cherokee.
    We lived together day by day and raised a family.
    With gentle grace she guarded them,
    my own dear Cherokee.
    I love her still as ever I did when she was by my side.
    I’ll never forget her as home she rides to join the buffalo.
    Her time has ended on this earth,
    but I know she does live on,
    in the spirit of the mustang herd that roams on Jackie’s Butte.
    One day I’ll meet her there again,
    my dear sweet Cherokee.
    The Eagle has carried you home today,
    my own, my Cherokee.
    Forever missed you’ll be my friend,
    we’ll meet again some day.

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