Michele Graybeal – Horse Artist Interview

Michele Graybeal

Website & Places you can find my work online
Websites: www.michelegraybeal.com
Blog: www.michelegraybeal.blogspot.com

Where I am
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
Coming from a family of artists it was pretty clear the path I was going to take. I began drawing at age 3 and showed particular interest in drawing animals early on, especially horses. I grew up in Northern California and frequently rode bareback with my best friend through the hillsides of Portola Valley.

Having had a close relationship with these majestic animals I gained an exceptional understanding of their behavior and anatomy which I believe is reflected in my art.

Beyond horses, my brother, also an artist, introduced me to the animation industry. He taught me the ropes in background design giving me some freelance work and helped me build up a portfolio. This led me to begin my career in animation officially in 1996 at Warner Bros. TV Animation on the show, Superman: The Animated Series. I went on to design backgrounds for the next generation series The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond.

Sketch Vignet

Having a fine art background I decided to get back to my roots working for an art consultant agency producing commissioned works for various clientele. More recently I have found my niche as a concept artist and designer. Although having a full time career in the animation industry I have always maintained a special love for drawing and painting horses.

I honed my skills taking equine life drawing workshops and spent many hours sketching at the LA Equestrian Center in Burbank.

Which came first, the horses or the art?
The art most definitely. My father is an artist as are my two brothers and my mother to a degree. As soon as I could hold on to a pencil I started drawing. I was first exposed to horses by the daughter of my father’s colleague. I went to my first show at six and got to see horses up close and was absolutely mesmerized by their beauty.

All Play

Is there a breed you prefer to draw?
Not really. Well, I do love draft horses so maybe a little affinity for those breeds.

Who are your main artistic influences?
That’s a hard question to answer as I can’t say I have any specifically. If we’re talking equine art, I very much appreciate the brilliant art of Lucy Kemp Welch. Not well recognized in North America but she is in the UK. She did all the illustrations for the book ‘Black Beauty’ which I loved as a child. She really had an amazing eye for anatomy and illustrated horses in a very appealing way.

The Warning

Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
Sadly no. I never had the resources to own a horse but my experiences with my friend’s horses over the years were great subjects and I learned a lot from just observing them and, when I got the chance, riding them.

Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art?
It’s just about getting inspired. And with horses as the subject it’s not hard to find it!

All Play Sketch

Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
No place in particular. Basically, anywhere there’s horses that I can observe and enjoy.

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in the future?
Well, I think it’s already having a positive effect. Artists are getting way more exposure and non-artists are being exposed to art in a sort of passive way.

It’s such a huge part of most people’s daily lives they’re more likely to see art by chance on the Internet rather than head out to go to a gallery. I guess it affected galleries, too, in a good way.

Ryan & Sarah

Has it had an effect on yours?
Sure it has. It’s allowed me to show my art to countless people. It’s a wonderful resource. If I need reference I just look it up. My portfolio is on line which is the way most studios and galleries like to view it. It’s the only way I can work remotely, too. I wouldn’t want to be without it.

Which one is your personal favorite piece?
Of my own artwork? Well, I think I still have yet to create it. But for now “My Forest” is the one that moves me the most.

My Forest

Would you ever sell it?
Are you interested? ;o)

What else are you passionate about?
Where do I begin? Basically, anything that’s creative – I’m into. Cooking, dancing, gardening, ceramics, architecture, photography…need I go on?

Hastings Horse

Working on anything new?
I’ve been working on a series of paintings depicting Vancouver during the Boom Town era.

Most include horses as would be quite common back in those days. I’ve been referencing old photos from that time period and creating paintings based on them. Sort of bringing them to life in oils.

I take some liberty with the background and lighting since some of these old photographs aren’t clear. As in the case of ‘Hastings Horse’ where the background was completely washed out. I opted to make the sky rather stormy and the street wet from a recent rain.


More to Come

Thanks to Michele for answering the interview and sharing more about her writing. Be sure to check out her art site periodically for updates about her latest works.

Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists, photographers & authors. 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 “Michele Graybeal – Horse Artist Interview

  1. Rianne

    These paintings are very inspiring, it makes me want to stand in a pasture with an easel and paints.

  2. Leila


    Your art is extremely impressive! I have been riding horses my entire life. You capture their exact physique and muscle tone precisely. I ride my Belgian Draft horse Quarter horse mix Sally nearly everyday. We are great friends, and some of your drawings appear just like her!

    Keep amazing people with your great art! :)


  3. William John Mc Cartan

    Your work is amazing and intrigues me, i am currently in my last year of A levels and specialise in portraiture and horses. Thank you :)

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