Horse Artist Interview – Karen McLain

Karen McLain

Website & Places you can find my work online
Redbubble: Karen AZ
Follow Karen on twitter: @KarenMcLain

Where I am
I am a third generation Arizona native, living east of Metro Phoenix in Apache Junction. Located in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, there are many inspiring painting locations near by. (Also miles of good trails for horse back riding).

The Colts

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
Growing up in Arizona, I was exposed to the outdoors and small rural communities. The love of the outdoors and the desire to be among horses has been a core part of my outlook.

I received a B.A. in Studio Art from ASU, and Studied at Scottsdale Artists’ School.

When did you first start drawing horses?
I have always been attracted to drawing horses, but really began to focus on them just before I got one of my own.

What is your favorite breed?

Here at home I have “The Varity Pack”. A Quarter horse, Percheron, Thoroughbred, and Morgan. Although I like them all, the Quarter horse is my favorite.


Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
I don’t have a specific animal, but rather a collection of things I have learned, from horses that guide my connection to what I paint. This is an ongoing process that I will expand upon in future blog posts.

Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art?
No, but if I ever get “stuck”, I just go outside and groom or hug a horse. Then I can reconnect with renewed energy.

1870's Mission

Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
I paint horses en Plein air. Trail horses, show horses, or companion horses, the ordinary and extraordinary are all beautiful to me. I understand the powerful bond people have with their horse and that allows me to connect with the horse that I am painting.

I guess the place of inspiration is in the presence of a horse. What I learn from the paintings I do from life, adds “life” to the paintings I complete in the Studio.

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in general?
I see the Internet as a way for collectors to find art that would not be available locally. It is also a wonderful way for commissions to be facilitated.

Boys on The Run

Has it had an effect on yours?
I have been able to network at a new level and have received about 60% of recent commissions through those contacts.

Which one is your personal favorite piece?
I did a painting of one of my horses, (Buddy), just before he died at age 31. This is the painting that I did for myself that I would like to do for everyone that has a favorite horse. Although I did not know he was going to die, it is the painting that I most remember him by.

Plein air

Would you ever sell it?

What else are you passionate about?
I enjoy trail riding, hanging out with horses, artists’ and horse people.

Working on anything new?
I am working on a series called “Ranch Hands”. They are close-up paintings of vintage style cowgirl attire. These will be available as a calendar and note cards.


More to Come

Thanks to Karen for answering the interview and sharing her art. Be sure to subscribe to her Studio 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.

3 Comments on “Horse Artist Interview – Karen McLain

  1. Andrea Trotter

    I will always be grateful that we crossed paths. Not only are you an amazing artist, you are genuine, giving, and caring in so many ways. Every day I look at the painting you did for me of Mojo, and I smile. It’s so, completely him, just watching me go about my day. Thank you for that wonderful gift. I hope many people can receive the same gift from you!

  2. Emily Peak

    I have been blessed to “know” Karen online now for awhile. She was kind enough to not only paint one but TWO (I’m a KM collector!) paintings for me. The first one is pictured above of my 3 geldings running in our pasture here in south Alabama. She had emailed me a picture of it before sending and I thought it was awesome but in person it’s even more stunning. The second is of my beloved Arab gelding Jay. He’s the chestnut at the top of the page.This one I did not see until I unwrapped it and let me just say I have never been so moved! I bawled! I have them both framed and hanging in my house and they receive enormous compliments continually!
    I love her work and look forward to seeing new stuff from her!
    Emily Peak

  3. Karen

    Thanks Andrea and Emily! I had a great time painting your horses. They have such personality and colors that it was like getting to know a new friend. Please pick up a copy of the Spring issue of “Horses in Art” magazine for an article on Painting Horses in Plein air.

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