Horse Artist Interview – Ophelia Keys

Ophelia Keys HorseName
Ophelia Keys

Website & places you can find my work online
Anna Tambour Presents: Ophelia Keys

Where I am

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
My first years were spent in the country with horses close by.

After that we moved to the city. No horses! I think that drawing them was my way of keeping them in my life.

I eventually started riding once a week, which was just enough! Now my husband and I live close to the country side and I ride between once and three times a week. But the habit of painting horses has stayed with me. If I have to spend time away from them, I begin to draw them obsessively.

Ophelia Keys Horse

When did you first start drawing horses?
That’s lost in the mists of time! My earliest drawings (after unidentifiable blobs) were of horses.

What is your favorite breed?
Every breed has a special quality and I love to paint all sorts of horses. I quite like to draw Arabians, as their anatomy is so close to the surface of their skins.

I find it more challenging to draw heavier horses and ponies, where the underlying anatomy can get a little fuzzy under all that shagginess. Luckily, I like a challenge.

Ophelia Keys Horse

Who are your main influences?
My favourite horse painters are Delacroix, Stubbs and Toulouse Lautrec. I love Degas’ horse sculptures. I’m inspired by photographers like Yann-Arthus Bertrand and Tim Flach.

I’m also inspired by many of the (often female) artists online who have combined their love of horses and art.

Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
The muse behind my work is the horse I never had along with the collective impressions of all the horses that I have ever seen or known.

Ophelia Keys Horse

Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art?
Beginning drawing or painting is the best way to get into the zone – putting down the first colour or brush stroke.

It’s important to shut out critical voices and to simply get out of the way of the muse (or of your own inspiration, however you prefer to see it).

You know you’re in the zone when the picture starts to paint itself, like putting paper over a coin and rubbing with charcoal – the picture materialises!

Ophelia Keys Horse

Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
I love just quietly being out amongst horses in the field. I use reference photographs when I’m working, but there’s nothing like just spending unrushed time with your subject.

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in general?
I think it’s had a wonderful effect. So many people have a voice and a space here. I feel its brought to light artists who might never have been known otherwise.

Ophelia Keys Horse

Has it had an effect on yours?
Keeping a blog on my work has given me the joy of sharing art with a wider audience.

At first I thought I was just sending it out into space, as no one was commenting. Then I would meet friends and old acquaintances who would say how much they were enjoying the blog. That was really inspiring.

Regular blogging also helps to keep me focused on my work. I notice if I haven’t produced anything I can share for a while. That’s when I know it’s time to prioritise my painting.

Which one is your personal favorite piece?
A pastel drawing based on Anky Van Grunsven’s dressage horse Bonfire. I had an almost supernatural feeling that the image was drawing itself. It just flowed out very intuitively. Another favourite is an unfinished pastel of a grey horse, based on Andreas Helgstrand’s Blu Hors Matine. Now I feel I should finish it. But I love it in its unfinished state. It’s still being formed. (Just a coincidence that they’re both dressage horses – I paint all breeds.)

Ophelia Keys Horse

Would you ever sell it?
I would sell them if I knew they were going to a good home! I think it’s important to share artwork.

What else are you passionate about?
I’m also a freelance editor and love writing fiction. I have a new writing/editing blog at

Working on anything new?
I’m often drawing and working on new images. I’m planning to do some artists’ trading cards of horses (ATC’s are small, swappable artworks).

I’m interested in photography and recently had a magical time photographing a friend’s horses by moonlight. Keeping an art blog means I have a sense of responsibility to keep sharing my images.

It’s such a privilege to be able to share a painting with people around the world, just a few moments after you’ve completed it.

Ophelia Keys Horse

More to Come

Thanks to Ophelia 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.

5 Comments on “Horse Artist Interview – Ophelia Keys

    1. susan

      His feet look like stumps! And that’s just for starters. Lots of problems here with these pieces.

  1. linda dunne

    hey i love your work on horses i am a big fan of horses and i want to know is it hard for drawing a horse

Comments are closed.