Artist Ruth Buchanan presents her beautiful equestrian portfolio. Enjoy, and visit her website to see more of her artwork.
I am inspired by the horse’s movement, musculature, and the play of light and shade over different textures. I use watercolour, soft pastel, charcoal and more lately oils to interpret this. I am driven to draw and paint by a sense of unease if I don’t.
When walking, driving and riding I am constantly looking – at skies, at landscapes, perspective and light play. I want my viewer to hear the creak of leather and thud of hooves, smell the scents of horse and earth, and from the corner of their eye, catch a hint of movement about to happen.
My training and career in graphic design and illustration resulted in me painting historic buildings for brochures. This has contributed to my paintings of equestrian competition as many are set against the backdrop of a stately home. I study various equestrian disciplines and it is often the story behind the scenes that engages me – the grooms working with their charges, or the rider ‘working-in’ the horse.
I have spent a lifetime learning to look. Having been a groom and a riding instructor seeing is key, and led to a lifelong study of anatomy and biomechanics. Everything starts with or in sketchbook drawing.
From my illustration background I learned to refine that drawing in studio and start each artwork with an under-painting, quickly establishing form and tonal values, before building layers of pigment to give richer, deeper colours.
Primarily a draughtswoman, colour did not come to me naturally, I have had to learn to manipulate it. I recently returned to Life Drawing Class to open up my work and explore use of colour, medium and technique with a different subject.
I have also started to explore abstract backgrounds with a limited palette that is then used to mix the colours of the subject. To allow the backgrounds to contribute to the painting’s narrative I use compositional constructs, primarily the Golden Ratio, to set the subject off centre, creating a tension between the background paint finding its own path and the control of the subject’s realism. I am working to further investigate this by allowing more of the background fluidity into areas of the main subject.
I undertake a limited number of commissions per year. This restriction allows me time to challenge myself by pursuing my own artwork, progression and development. For personal pieces, I work in themed series of paintings to give purpose, structure and discipline.
Currently I am working on a long-running series of horses against a backdrop of architectural arches, alongside studies of the sport of Polo and Friesian and other black horses.