Manuela Casanova Klement
Where I am
Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I was born and raised in eastern Switzerland. We lived in a small town close to the regions main city St. Gallen. My parents had a restaurant and I spent my entire scool time there.
I actually dreamed of a career with horses, ‘cause in switzerland, we have horses everywhere. But my parents saw my drawing talent and were afraid I‘d throw away my future if I wouldn’t turn this gift in to an occupation.
So my mom said: ” Why don’t you try the entrance examination for art school – if you don’t succeed, you can still work with horses.”
As I passed through the tests so easy, the track switches were placed – almost a no turn back – I had to go to art school. Today, I’m thankful to my parents for pushing me and knowing that one day I would understand. Although it wasn’t easy for a 16 year old teenager, whose idea of freedom was certainly not another five years of school.
The education was founded and rich, and included all aspects of design, in my case graphic design. We had lessons in art history, 3D sculpturing and classic advertisement as well as practice in the process of finding ideas.
Right after the final examination National Swiss Television hired me as a graphic/motion designer, although I had absolutely no professional experience and no clue of computers, I guess I was the luckiest and happiest young woman on earth!
The next twelve years, I worked for Swiss Television and delivered all kinds of tv shows like entertainment and news or educational shows where complicated issues had to be explained, like medicine shows, economical and scientifical tv magazines.
During that time, I purchased my first and only horse so far. You must know that owning horses in my country is one of the most expensive things you can do. After that, not much other financial outputs can be done – it is almost as expensive as a second apartment. Having a horse here in pension means you spend about 15,000 USD a year.
But I wanted a horse and I could afford it, so I found Avilo, my beautiful Dales Pony.
In the Swiss Television, I met my husband Sascha, and after our first child was born, my days in the tv station were counted, I wanted to be a mom and stay at home.
Personally, I considered it as a privilege to stay at home – my husband earned enough money for all of us and I had no problems leaving my career behind, knowing that after Cynthia and Tim had come to school, my time would return and I had spent these important years with my children.
Because we were technically equipped, I could deliver one or the other job from home. But all of a sudden, I wanted to go back to my roots and after several years of computerised work, I wanted to paint and draw again. I wanted to work with my hands.
If you have a design profession such as delivering to customers and fulfilling their needs, you start to move away from your own inner creativity. The ideas and judgement of the customers are simply too important for the success of your work.
So first, I had to find out what I wanted and who I am.
Thanks to the babybreak, the distance between my old way of work had already taken place, but I still tend to be more a supplier than a own minded artist…..
To me, a complete new time begins at the end of summer, when both children have entered our school system and the house will be empty during most of the day, after eight years! Now my time comes and I will try it all out!
When did you first start drawing & painting horses?
I was drawing an painting horses since I remember. I was one of these hopeless crazy horse girls.
What is your favorite breed?
Without a doubt, it’s the heavy ones, the round and powerful draft horses. The size and power paired with gentleness and coolness, wow! If a heavy horse has learned to move elegant despite its weight and size, there’s simply nothing like this.
Who are your main influences?
I love the paintings of the German romantic epoch and painters like Caspar David Friedrich, Friedrich Nerly or Theodor Verhas. I also am absolutely fascinated of Ted Nasmith, Alan Lee or John Howes illustations of the middle earth.
Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
No. Inspiration can develop from nothing or everything. It is more like a state of mind that helps you see behind it all. The key is to keep yourself open for inspiring moments.
But animals indeed are inspiring!
Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art?
No. I’m not sad if I run through an uninspired phase. So I just wait.
Uninspired phases are just as important as the inspired ones, ‘cause there’s much happening inside. It is the time changes or new ideas start growing, even we cannot see the result yet. They show themselves in the next creative idea…
Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
How I wish to have such a place! At home everything can be a bit stressful, and the best relaxing cure is on horseback.
What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in general?
This is a super interesting question. In general, I assume the chances of beeing seen at all have become much more equal. The possibilities to publish and promote yourself and adjust your supply any time at any place, cracked stuck gotten structures in many industries and for sure the art scenes.
To generate a regular income therefore is another story. Because of the massive number of available art, its value inevitably is pushed down and quantity exeeds quality. So it is more difficult to sell an piece of art for its actual worth price. Only those, who are able to advance a consequent and disciplined marketing, who consider all aspects of modern sales promotion have a chance to establish a solid business in the internet.
Has it had an effect on yours?
Aside from this interview (which I truly enjoy) and the fact, that more people have seen my art on the net then it has ever been the case before – no.
I’m still bound to my nearest region where I find my customers.
Which one is your personal favorite piece?
It’s “Falco” . I love it ‘cause it’s so unrestrainedly drippy fairy tale like and also mystical and dark.
Would you ever sell it?
It’s been painted on demand.
What else are you passionate about?
Oh yes! Ships…….ships. I don’t have a clue why, but they make my heart beat faster.
It’s all kind of ships. The bigger the better. My dream is it to own a beautiful three mast schooner and sail all around the world. Because of my passion for ships, I asked Sascha to learn about sailing. He immediately was hooked and absolved all schooling up to offshore permit. Since then we all love to go sailing whenever we have time (and money) for it. If it’s not the ocean, we sail on one of our wonderful swiss lakes, like the famous Vierwaldstättersee near Luzern.
I haven’t have enough courage yet, but it is only a question of time, when I paint my first piece of a stunning yacht cutting through the waves…!
Working on anything new?
Right now, I enjoy the short summer here in switzerland and the mediterranean sea with my family and look forward to the new period of life, regaining a part of my artistic freedom – whether it is on a computer (motion design is a very artistic field) or on a nice canvas and a new brush!
More to Come
Thanks to Manuela for answering the interview and sharing her work. Be sure to check out 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.