Painting Horses

cave painting from Altamira Cave in northern Spain

When I was in college I got to see these cave paintings firsthand and I remember being in awe of them.  I was a Spanish major for a brief time (art came much later after college) and I was very fortunate to take a month long trip to Spain with others at my college.  It was my first trip abroad and so exciting!

I also remember spending some time at the Prado in Madrid and seeing these HUGE Diego Velazquez paintings!  He’s always been one of my favorite painters.  This was in the early ’70’s and I have not been back since.  It’s definitely on my bucket list to go again!

The Count – Duke Olivares on Horseback, 123″ x 97″, Diego Velazquez
Equestrian Portrait of Prince Balthasar Charles, 82″ x 68″, Diego Velazquez

Last September, I traveled to London and saw this beauty in the National Gallery…another huge horse painting.  This was before I even thought about painting horses, but, I realize now that the seed of the idea was planted here.

“Whistlejacket”, 115″ x 97″ , George Stubbs

I’m a great Lucien Freud fan and he was very fond of horses and a good equestrian.  Here are a few of his horse paintings.  I also love how he painted dogs.  His paintings are so sensual and I feel that the animals come alive in them.

“Skewbald Mare”, Lucien Freud, from wikipedia
It’s tough being an artist’s model – that horse looks beat!

And even though I could show numerous other examples, I’ll end with a very recent show of Joe Andoe’s horses.

This last one is bordering on the sentimental, but is just quirky enough that I like it!


Here’s my latest horse and a detail of the eye.  The eye is like a mini abstract painting and I love painting it.

Finally, I should add that I used to have a horse, and horses were my first passion.  I no longer ride… and now my passion is painting.  As a young girl, I remember trying to draw horses but, I never dreamed I’d be painting them someday.

On a personal note, I wish to dedicate my horse paintings to my father who (for years) took me to the stable, horse  shows, watched me ride at an unheated riding stable (I still see him standing with a glass of blackberry brandy to keep warm!) and basically gave me an ideal childhood.

9 Replies to “Painting Horses”

  1. Thanks so much for your delightful explanation of why you paint horses! And thank you for introducing me to Lucian Freud’s horse paintings and to Joe Andoe. And a very excellent dedication to your father. He sounds like a great dad.

  2. I really like ‘The Arabian’, you captured the elegance of Arabian horses wonderfully. (When looking at it, I immediatly thought ‘this must be a…argh, what are they called’ – then I saw the title – ‘right, an Arabian!’ – I used to have a passion for horses, too, but I seem to have forgotten everything about them, haha..)

  3. This is a wonderful post with some of my favourite images and paintings. We visited Northern Spain some years ago and came across the Caves of Altamira and Gaudi’s folly at Comillas almost by accident – Wonderful region of a beautiful country. Sadly the public weren’t allowed into the caves at that time, for very sound reasons really. The work is so precious. You were lucky to see the paintings when you did. Velazquez and Freud and Stubbs are stunning. When I studied art at Liverpool, where Stubbs grew up, the library had a copy of Stubbs’ ‘Anatomy of the Horse’ an book of astounding drawings. I’m sure you know it but well-worth a look. Finally, I love your drawings too Anita – a wonderful eye of the horse, super painting :-)

    1. Thanks, Maxine! I went through a stage a couple years ago of painting horses. I’ve taken almost all of them off the blog because I really am more of a landscape painter. I’m not familiar with the book by Stubbs. But, I’m sure it is outstanding… he sure could paint those horses couldn’t he? “Whistlejacket” is just so amazing and I was so lucky to see it in person. I loved Spain,too, and look forward to going back to the Prado some day. Velazquez is one of my favorite painters :)

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