Leaving our home in Hampshire last week to be framed before arriving in Dublin
The Horse I fell in Love With
A while ago I received a request to accept a commission for a painting which would be part of a major horse racing event. I read the message and at first the sensible side of my brain knew I had to decline the offer. With a thrilling new book to be completed and two fabulous exhibitions in September my time was already taken up. I also have my USA 2015 Fall tour to organise and prepare for so taking on any new projects was completely out of the question. Apart from that, I rarely accept commissions these days as I have so much work on that I cannot often spare the time.
However. I made the fatal mistake of of looking at the subject and as an artist my heart flipped. This was no ordinary horse. In the past collectors of my horse racing watercolours have seen my specialized work covering subjects such as "Frankel" and "Black Caviar". Two very special horses who I have painted on numerous occasions and they have sold privately or via exhibitions. I adore them. A horse has to make me want to paint it before I take it on as a challenge. It has to hold something special that is indefinable for me to be able to bring it to life.
"The Grey Gatsby" demanded my attention.
"The Grey Gatsby" demanded to be painted
Before I knew it I had agreed to take on the project. My heart had spoken. That was the first step.
The second stage was finding the right resource image to work from that showed me the strength of the horse and the excitement of the race. I am delighted to say I was spoilt for choice by the organiser of my commission. I fell in love with a scene that I have titled " The Battle".
Then I locked myself away in my studio and the race began. The race against time for completing the painting and the race to ensure when finished the piece could be in Ireland for the major event which opens this weekend. I have been invited to attend but the dates sadly clashed with my own solo exhibition in UK this week.
I painted the " The Grey Gatsby" with my emotions totally on show. We became one. When I slept I kept thinking about the next brushstrokes which would be added to the large exciting composition. I loved the silks of the jockey so they became important. Green is my lucky colour and here I was faced with painting my favourite colours and bringing the race to life.
It was a heady time. I felt as though I was on the horse, I was leading it to the finishing line. This was about both of us making it to that win. It was a journey I will never forget nor do I want to.
Some painting sgrab you like that and you have no idea why. You breath,eat sleep and feel what is happning via your brushstrokes and it is an addiction you cant give up. You don't want to leave the studio at night and you race back to it each morning. I did while working on this. Nothing else mattered.
At one point the horse in the lead felt as though it would trample me down as I was obviously standing directly in front of it as it hurtled towards me.
I dreamt of using turquoise and violet for the muzzle area of The Grey Gatsby and soon I felt I could reach out and simply touch the horse. They were now very much alive in my studio.
The Grey Gatsby heading straight towards me.
While I worked the two main horses behind the star seemed to become really unimportant to the story. They were racing to catch up with "The Grey Gatsby" who had taken the lead in the race, But he was heading to win so amazingly that the heat of this moment and excitement took over my brush strokes.
Grey Gatsby in the lead.
There is no mistake on who is winning this battle
When my soul goes into a painting something wonderful happens. The whole world disappears and it is just me and the scene in front of me and who is in it.
The horse below is a favourite of mine in the finished painting now. It literally leapt off the paper and came alive. It wanted so badly to win but I knew it wasn't going to. The jockey seems to be trying so hard and so does the horse. So much so this beautiful section within the large painting gained my attention during the creative process because of the energy it held for me as the artist.
Section of the large painting
Once the painting was completed it had to make its' way to Ireland. This was to be via my framer so that the piece could be framed, protected and shipped to Leopardstown where the Longines event will be taking place.
As I said goodbye and " The Grey Gatsby" left my studio my heart sank a little. Sometimes as artists more than colour flows from our brushstrokes. Our heart and soul does too.
Farewell and good luck to a truly magnificent horse.
One I had the pleasure to be connected with for a short time. And how magical that was.
Me, with The Grey Gatbsy" as it leaves to be framed and shipped to Ireland for the Longine Event in Leopardstown this weekend.
You can read about the event and where my painting will be displayed via this link