Back in the ’80’s and ’90’s, I photographed just about every top three day event on the east coast: Radnor and Fair Hill, Chesterland and Essex, Groton House and Millbrook. I split my time evenly between eventing and dressage. But over the past decade since I moved to San Diego, aside from the occasional foray to Rolex in Lexington, KY, I’ve pretty much concentrated on dressage.
Well, it sure was fun to go up to Galway Downs and see horses run and jump cross country again! It was a bright sunny day in Temecula, about 70 degrees, just perfect conditions for galloping over big fences. I wandered out to the two water jumps, because I’m working on a series of paintings for which I needed fresh photo reference. I brought a new camera body that I was test-driving, and my watercolors.
I’ve been painting horses on location for a while now, and with dressage I’ve learned to look for the repeating patterns. I know if I sit by the ring, a horse will trot or canter by every 30 seconds or so. I’ve trained myself to form a mental snapshot and then quickly put it down on paper or canvas, filling in more pieces every time the horse passes by. But painting on crosscountry certainly raised the difficulty factor a few notches! Those mental snapshots are fewer and farther between (two to four minutes apart) and a horse flying over a water jump seems to have a whole lot more moving parts than a dressage horse. But I did get some quick sketches done, as well as plenty of reference to work from.
Here are several watercolors that I did while sitting beside the jumps, and two tiny oil sketches that I did the day after in preparation for full sized paintings. Each is available for $100.00 a piece.