Horse Artist Interview – Julie Bender

Peruvian SplendorName
Julie Bender

Website & places you can find my work online
Artists for Conservation: Julie Bender
Sporting Artisans: Pyrography
Gallery B: Julie Bender
Southeastern Wildlife Exposition: Julie Bender
Estes Arts: Endangered Eyes
Society of Animal Artists

Where I am
Atlanta, GA

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. My love of art came at a very young age and has remained a big part of my life. I graduated from the University of Missouri with a BFA and BSEd in art education.

Somewhere in the Distance

Can you tell us a little about the pyrography and how you got started with it?
The term pyrography means drawing with fire. It was used in ancient times when cave dwellers burned on cave walls with hot pokers. Today, there are various tools, simple and sophisticated, used to produce pyrographic artwork and different methods to achieve interesting results.

I stumbled upon pyrography when my beloved dog, Zoe, died in 2002. That was a difficult time for me, accepting her premature death, as she was truly my best friend. I thought of burning her portrait on the cherry urn I chose for her ashes, and that’s where it started for me.

I have never looked back and to this day, I credit Zoe for giving me my greatest gift in life.

Here's Looking at You

Do you have a favorite breed of horse?
No, I love them all. Each has its distinct physical attributes and style, each its own personality. My greatest challenge is finding the right subject for my work, which is very detailed. Therefore, I constantly seek out subjects and reference photography that will complement my work and continue to help me take my art to the next level.

Who are your main influences?
I am constantly inspired by artists who demonstrate an obvious sense of feeling and passion in their work. When a painter is genuinely touched by the subjects in their work, it shows and I cannot help but be touched by that.

It motivates me to push myself harder. Often, I see ways in which an artist’s technique can be translated through pyrography. My medium is so unique that I can honestly say that I am influenced my many, many artists and photographers. I could not single them out.


Do you have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
Honestly, I love to produce all types of animals, fur, feather, scale. As long as the challenge is great, I am up for it. Wildlife is a particular favorite since there are so many species to keep things really interesting. But, I cannot point to any particular animal that is my muse.

Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
I surround myself in my studio with inspiring photography, artwork and music. Photos of my Zoe are especially meaningful to me. I love gazing up at her face, I miss her so.

She is single-handedly responsible for bringing me to this special art and more importantly for helping me find my true purpose and passion in life. Anywhere near Zoe is my place of inspiration.


What effect do you think the Internet has on art in general?
HUGE!!!!!! The Internet is wholly responsible for bringing people together, regardless of purpose, business or pleasure – on an international level.

I can say without a doubt that without the Internet, it is virtually impossible for a fine artist to reach the exact audience or range of audiences we would like, or to infiltrate into the businesses, publications, galleries, homes, museums and exhibitions that help make us successful.

Has it had an effect on yours?
No doubt about it.

Peruvian Splendor

Which one is your personal favorite piece?
I have a few that are favorite for different reasons. “Peruvian Splendor” is my strongest piece, the one I am probably most proud of simply for the considerable time and effort that went into it. “Somewhere in the Distance” is a favorite in terms of how I personally feel about it. It represents real growth in my art and my personal life.

Would you ever sell it?
“Peruvian Splendor” is in my personal collection, but “Somewhere in the Distance” is available for purchase.


What else are you passionate about?
My dogs are enormously important to me. They are vizslas and participate in AKC-sanctioned hunt tests and field trials. Their love of birds (upland game) is their (and my other) passion.

There is nothing more gratifying than to see my girls enjoying what they were bred to do…..slam on a point when they come across the scent of a quail. I own, train and handle them myself.


It is difficult to find time to do my art and to attend field events (often on the road), but we love it. In fact, thanks to all the folks we’ve met along the way, I have been commissioned by many collectors to produce pyro portraits of their own sporting dogs.

Working on anything new?
There is always a work in progress. Currently, I am working on an owl that I hope to submit into the 2009 Birds in Art juried competition. With all the upcoming fall shows and exhibitions around the corner, I need to keep very busy!

Desert Prince

More to Come

Thanks to Julie for answering the interview and sharing her art. Be sure to check in with her art website periodically 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.

12 Comments on “Horse Artist Interview – Julie Bender

  1. Joni Solis

    WOW, super WOW — on the amount of detail you put into your artwork Julie. About how long does one piece take? Do you work with a magnifying glass? And the horses’ form is so well done too. Thanks for sharing these lovely horses here.

  2. Julie Bender

    Thank you very much for such nice comments. Sometimes I am not so sure how I do it either. Pyrography requires a great deal of time and patience and I have found that trying to work too fast or dark (to cut corners) just never pays off. This medium definitely grounds me and keeps me humble.

    My works generally take several weeks to complete, give or take a week or two. It really depends on the size and complexity of the piece. I don’t work with a magnifying glass (yet) but my glasses have definitely gotten stronger. :)

    Warm regards,

  3. Katherine

    You detail is absolutely incredble, and I can’t think of how you can achieve it with fire!!! I looked at our first artpeice, and said to myself, wow, she is a good photographist, and once I found out you created it I just couldn’t believe it!!!

  4. Gary Minshall

    I’m truly amazed of all this talent I see at the equinest, Julie, you’re top notched.
    Blessing on ya’ Kid, Gary Minshall

  5. Laura Irvine

    I love the detail, especially the Arabian. You certainly captured their striking beauty.

  6. Margaret Ann

    I have recently taken up pyrography on leather and I’m in awe of your talent. I study your art in the hopes of learning your technique. The detail you put in your work is breath taking!

  7. Jennie McFadden

    Yesterday I stumbled upon your pyrography while looking for instructions on how to make a woodburned photo album and I am blown away by your art! You are amazing and truly inspiring! My heart goes out to you that you experienced the sadness of losing your beloved Zoe but so happy that you turned that into something positive and so beautiful!!!!!
    I love your artwork! ♡

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