Cinderella, Cinderella…


Last year, Woodbine Entertainment initiated a contest to select “The Official Queen’s Plate Artist.” I did enter, what I thought was a beautiful painting of 2014 winner Lexie Lou, and was disappointed when it didn’t make the top five – after all, painting Canadian racehorses is what I do! Anyway, such is the life of the artist – we have to know how to handle rejection, because we don’t always fit with that the powers that be are looking for. I decided to enter again this year, and went with something much more generic – a horse in the walking ring, rider up, groom leading her. I had taken the reference photo last summer at the races, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to paint it. When they announced the 2016 contest – late enough that I’d been convinced they weren’t going to run it – I didn’t have a lot of time to contemplate what I was going to paint, and picked up the reference photo, already printed. I managed to get the painting done and entry made a week before the deadline, as I was travelling to San Francisco!

The notification date for the five finalists came and went, and I figured once again my work had been bypassed – though last year they’d sent out an email passing along that information. I went to check out the Plate website, and there was the announcement. Clicked through to see the top five…and there was my painting! That was a pleasant surprise! Now, the painful part begins – the winner is determined by a voting process, and shameless self-promotion is NOT my strong suit. Popularity contests are not things I win. I’d rather see work chosen on merit than on who has the most friends. That said, I’ve been humbled by the show of loyal friends who have shown their support in my Facebook posts!

Now…the title of this post doesn’t mean what you think it might. The grey filly in the painting, named Letter Fly, was bred by a friend of mine. Due to unfortunate circumstances, my friend had to sell her at the yearling sales. She ended up making her first start as a three-year old in Iowa, of all places. After showing little in those early races, my friend was able to buy her back and return her to Ontario, and she was christened “Cinderella” by the trainer’s granddaughter. Here, she’s gone from a cheap maiden claimer in Iowa to an allowance winner. She is sound and still racing as a five-year old, but when she no longer wants to be a racehorse, she’ll be safe.

So, I hate asking for votes for myself, I really do. Cinderella, on the other hand, is very deserving of them! To vote, visit Woodbine’s Queen’s Plate website, and scroll down to follow the link that will take you to the voting site. There has been a bit of confusion in the voting process – you will need to rate the options given from first to fifth. I hope you enjoy all the artwork that has made the finals!


To see the original post, please visit my studio blog.


Dance Smartly – Canada’s Queen

Here’s another Canadian great I’ve now portrayed twice.  The same year I did the Northern Dancer painting, I donated a painting of Dance Smartly for that year’s Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame fundraiser.  This 14 x 11 oil was based on both my own photos, as well as some supplied to me by the Hall of Fame.  My own photos weren’t the best – taken during her racing days – so I was quite happy to have the additional references.

This year, I had the opportunity to paint this amazing filly again.  When I signed on to be part of the Mural Mosaic project’s Le Cadeau du Cheval/The Horse Gift, I knew I wanted to do something commemorating a Canadian Thoroughbred.  The panel I received was decidedly purple, and after an initial reaction of “What do I do with this?”  I knew I needed to do something related to the Queen’s Plate, with that traditional blanket of royal purple and gold flowers.  Dance Smartly was on the list of horses the organizers wanted to see in the project, and after the loss earlier this year of Tammy Samuel-Balaz and Elizabeth Samuel, it seemed a fitting tribute to some noteworthy Canadian ladies.  The colour of the image of my panel has been altered somewhat on the Mural Mosaic site, so a more accurate depiction can be found on my studio blog post.

Again, while both the originals are no longer available, giclée reproductions can be purchased.  The initial painting is available either on canvas ($150.00) or paper ($95.00) at 14 x 11” as well as a smaller collector print at $30.00.

The decidedly purple Mural Mosaic panel is reproduced at 12.5 x 12.5” on fine art paper for $95.00 or as a smaller collector print for $30.00.  Canvas available by request.

In both cases, the reproductions will be signed by the artist, and 20% of each sale goes to LongRun.  As the initial painting was produced for the Hall of Fame fundraiser, an additional portion will go to that organization.

Celebrating Canada’s Thoroughbreds, and Helping Them Out, Too!

I don’t know what it was that initiated my love for the Thoroughbred;  maybe it was Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books, or Margurite Henry’s stories about the Godolphin Arabian and Black Gold.  Either way, my horse-craziness was pretty focused from early on.  My favourite racehorse growing up was Norcliffe, winner of the ’76 Queen’s Plate, a son of Buckpasser – the likely inspiration being that Buckpasser, through Man o’ War, traced back to Matchem who was the Godolphin Arabian’s most notable heir.  My first oil painting, completed in a class I took as a teenager, was of Norcliffe.  It’s still around here somewhere, and when I find it, I’ll post a photo, for fun!

I won’t get into all the details of my involvement in the Thoroughbred industry, but that path has brought me to here:  I operate a small Thoroughbred lay-up time, and when I’m not busy with the kids in the barn, I’m in my studio painting them!

Working in the industry, one can’t help but become aware of the fate of these horses, once their racing careers are finished.  Because of this, I like to use my artwork, when I can, to support the retirement group in my area:  LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement.  Part of my motivation with this blog was to celebrate our Canadian horses, and at the same time, hopefully, send some money LongRun’s way to help with the future of these amazing animals.  I will donate a portion of any sales made as a result of this blog to them.  And that doesn’t mean just original paintings; that goes for reproductions as well.  It’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas, so what better gift for a Thoroughbred racing fan than a piece of artwork that also benefits the horses?

I’ll post some older pieces, as well as new ones as they come along.  The horses you’ll see won’t always be big names;  sometimes they’ll be tomorrow’s hopefuls on the farm, or the ones that have worked their way into hearts despite less than stellar performances at the racetrack.  I hope you’ll visit often to see what transpires!