Tag Archives: horses

Horse Crazy

As a child and adolescent, there were three major influences in my life and eventually art. I have written posts on two of them: my Portuguese father and the beautiful place where I grew up in northern California. It now seems time for me to write about the third, which was my horse.

The Irish Influence

From the time that I can remember, I was in love with the horse. I was horse crazy. I have no idea why. I was rarely around horses, but every time that I saw one, I became excited and mesmerized by whatever lovely creature I was seeing. It could have been a 25 year-old antiquarian, or a swayback mare, I didn’t care. Loving horses seemed to be a part of my psyche. Irish folklore says that that if you are Irish, loving the horse is in your blood. I am half Irish, so maybe some of the mystery lies there.


Cheval Blanc, 1881, Toulouse, Lautrec

Cheval Blanc, 1881, Toulouse Lautrec.

Freedom to Roam

I would not be the person I am today had I not had a dream fulfilled by my father. After almost eleven years of begging for a horse, the Christmas when I was eleven, my father told me to go look out the window at the back pasture. There a dark bay horse was standing. I was overwhelmed. I cried. That was one of the few times in my life when a dream came true. My life totally changed from that point on. First, I had to teach myself to ride. After that small task was accomplished, with only a run-away incident and one encounter with a barbed wire fence, I could then enjoy complete freedom. I rode off into the hills in the morning with my horse and faithful dog and came home for dinner. I learned independence, self-confidence and a sense of adventure.

AnnHart Marquis-Meand my horse duke

Me, age 13 and my horse Duke on a gloomy day.


You may be asking how my horse (whose name was chosen by my father) Duke affected my pursuit of being an artist. Most artists are independent, they frequently spend time alone, they need to be self-confident if they are going to believe in their art and it helps to feel like art is an adventure.


Tete de cheval blanc, 1815, Theodore Gericault

Tête de cheval blanc (Head of the White Horse), 1815, Théodore Gericault.

The Painted  Horse

The next question that comes to mind may be why I don’t paint horses. Needless to say, I am very sentimental about them. The thought of painting a horse touches something deep inside that I am not ready to explore. Someday, I will do a series. In addition to that, I am awe-struck by the many magnificent paintings of horses over the centuries. Here are two more that I love.


Have you ever had a childhood dream come true?


Blue Horse I Franz Marc

Blue Horse I , 1911, Franz Marc.

Montana Watercolor

One of the reasons I like to travel is to get new inspiration for my art.  The colors that are prevalent in a location are important to me.  I just returned from a week in Montana horseback riding, hiking and relaxing at Pine Butte Guest Ranch in Choteau which is in the middle of nowhere. I live in New Mexico where the colors are vibrant. The rocks and cliffs are red and the sky is cerulean blue. I frequently go to France where the soft, rolling landscape is 35 shades of green with a muted blue sky.


Montana Norther Front of the Rookies

Montana, Northern Front of the Rookies (photo by Tim Anderson, 2013)

Montana’s terrain is quite unique. First, the landscape was carved by glaciers millions of years ago. This makes for a contrast between high mountains and long prairies and valleys. Many of the rock and mountain formations were unique shades of gray. The prairies were a soft green. I love trees and I appreciated the number of aspen trees in the area.

While I was at the ranch I learned that there was a staff member who was willing to give watercolor lessons if anyone was interested. I immediately thought, “No, not for me.”  I like the thick application of acrylic and oil paint. My very first art class had been a watercolor class.  The class was not particularly successful, primarily because I knew nothing of shapes, perspective or composition. It took me a few hours of horseback riding at the ranchbefore I thought, “Why wouldn’t I take a watercolor class?” I did, and loved it thanks to the guidance of Sheryl Mink, a very talented artist as well as being the ranch gardener. Here are my very quick attempts to appreciate watercolor. And I do. I many even pursue it.

Mountain Plateau

Mountain Plateau

Vase With Flowers

Vase With Flowers

Watering Can With Flowers

Watering Can With Flowers

Three Trees

Three Trees