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Don’t Force the Horse

oil and cold wax grouping

Grouping of 6, 6″x6″ oil and cold wax, arches oil paper on 1 1/2 cradled panel. All 6 for $50 each + shipping

Surprise! (it’s not a horse) Last month I attended a fantastic workshop in Oil and Cold Wax at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology taught by abstract artist Dayna Collins. This is my third workshop in this medium, so I guess you could say I am getting the hang of it a wee bit more – however it is a medium that the possibilities for exploration are endless.

oil and cold wax

Surprise #1, 6×6 oil and cold wax, arches oil paper on 1 1/2 cradled panel.

At this workshop I made a conscious decision to force myself to play with new colours, new methods and different tools. I also decided I would not ‘Force the Horse’, which my fellow students and teacher found quite amusing as I spoke about my intentional restraint.

oil and cold wax abstract

Surprise #2, 6″x6″ oil and cold wax, arches oil paper, 1 1/2 cradled panel

I am an equine painter, however the last workshop in Cold Wax I attended, I was working the horse into every piece I created, rather than just playing with the medium. In hindsight, I think perhaps not the best decision, because I didn’t push myself outside of my comfort zone. So this time, for once, I let the horse go. Much to my surprise I created some lovely abstract work, some beautiful pieces I didn’t know I had in me.

oil and cold wax, abstract art

Surprise #3, oil and cold wax, arches oil paper, 1 1/2″ cradled panel

There is 6 in the series that were created all at once, working intuitively across oil paper that was taped down to a big sheet. I have buffed and mounted them to 1 1/2 cradled block.

oil and cold wax abstract art

Surprise #4, oil and cold wax on arches oil paper, mounted to 1 1/2 cradled panel

I have priced them individually here, however if anyone is interested in buying in a grouping I would drop the price, 3 for $65 or all 6 for $50 each plus shipping. They look outstanding in a set!!

oil and cold wax, abstract art

Surprise #5, oil and cold wax on arches oil paper, mounted to 1 1/2″ cradled panel

Btw – the oil and cold wax horses are coming soon 🙂

oil and cold wax abstract

Surprise #6, oil and cold wax on arches oil paper, mounted to 1 1/2″ cradled panel

Property Manager

equine art, foal, sport horse, allla prima

“Property Manager” 8×10 oil on panel

Click HERE to bid

After a few labor intensive paintings, I was itching to produce a spontaneous alla prima painting to list in a Daily Paintworks Auction. A foal painting seemed appropriate, as it’s that time of year again, foaling season! I love watching all my breeder friends 2019 foals arrive. It is fantastic to be witness to the pride that goes along with each an every successful breeding and foaling. The late night foal watch, the unwrapping of each package as they unfurl their long legs, seeing what cool markings each foal arrives with. Then of course watching them grow and develop over the years, makes such a fantastic journey to be witness and fan to.  This little one was from the herd at Countrylane farm in BC, by their stallion Westporte out of an Eastern Ruler mare. Should be rising 2 now 🙂


“Void” 10″x14″ on Arches Oil Paper, mounted to white mattboard 14″x18″

Available, Click HERE

In January I participated in an Oil and Cold wax workshop which I have continued exploring since, looking for ways to infuse my equine figures into the medium. I have found experimenting with cold wax an excellent way to warm up for the rest of my day in the studio. The intuitive process is so different from my usual practice that it forces me to let go of any preconceived notions of what the final product may be and let the artwork itself evolve to be or not. It is very freeing. 

The meditative action of scraping and moving the wax around allows my brain to wander in thought. The work shifts and changes with each pass and thoughts become fused with the layers of wax. As I was working with this image, I bonded and then lifted tissue paper to mottle the image of a white horse cantering with a rider. As I scraped back through the layers, the rider disappeared and the horse became ethereal. My initial reaction was to replace the him/her, but my feelings said to leave it, void as it represented a part of me at this present time.

It has been 10 years since I have been a horse owner, up until then I always had a horse in my life. It was part of me, Jenn Pratt, horse owner, rider, artist. I know there are many of you out there, who for some reason had to put horses on the back burner, or leave them entirely. Together we can relate to how we feel when horses aren’t part of our daily life anymore. Despite knowing the form like the back of my hand, there are days in the studio where I feel tremendous disconnect from my subject matter. My identity as a horse owner is not there and hasn’t been for sometime now. It is compounded by the fact that my trusted circle of horse friends remain 3000 miles away. I live with this void in my life, of the actual subject matter that I have dedicated my life to, for now. However, I remain hopeful as I still have my tack trunk, and all my horse gear waiting for that time when the void is able to be filled again.

“Void” is 10″x14″ oil and cold wax on Arches Oil Paper. It is presented with a white acid free matt board, cut to frame opening of 14″x18″. Shipped with Acid-free matt board backing and clear bagged for protection. Unframed.


The Emerge Series

equine art, drafting, horse art, design, Jennifer Pratt

“Architecture of Mayday”, 11×14 oil on panel

I celebrated my 45th birthday on the weekend. My husband planned a surprise party which was a shock for me. We relocated to Portland a few years ago, not knowing anyone, now 30+ people who I care about,   showed up for me, singing happy birthday. I was moved to tears, completely overwhelmed by the friends I have here. That experience might not have been about creating art, but it was a realization, that openness to experience, can often lead to breakthrough moments in life as well as the studio.

Before Christmas I started a series of simple oil sketches using Paynes Grey on white panels. One day I was rushing, trying to pack up the studio because I had to get my son. I had to leave one sketch unfinished. I was a miffed, because I knew the next day the paint would be that annoying mid-way stage of not dry; but not wet enough to work the next day…half dry! (painters, you know it!!) When I returned to the studio the next day, fresh eyes and good nights sleep, I saw it. It did not need any further work, there was my breakthrough moment of realization. I saw something familiar in the lines I had placed on the canvas, it was apparent I architecturally ‘draft’ my horses.

I have a background in Interior design. I spent the better part of my 20’s drafting, manually. For the longest time after I left design I tried to break the habits of precision, wanting to draw outside the lines. It was hard, I was frustrated that I was so precise, I longed to break free, but not knowing how, or found getting caught up in details when I didn’t mean to. Now, here I was 20+ years past and confronted by my horse sketch, fresh eyes and light bulb moment where I said to myself, “Why don’t I own this?” I noticed the beauty in the line, the angles. The progression of what was there, and what was marked to come. The weight and width of lines, ones I chose to accentuate, the ones I did not. The simplicity of Paynes Grey on white.  22 years later from this drawing (below) and I could see how life experience, my training, made me who I am and something that I alone can own.

Detail Section of Vanity, circa 1997

From that moment, intrinsic motivation led me down a path to follow and grow an idea. How could I take this simple sketch, knowing my line is of importance and keep the idea growing? I played with different amounts of detail, merely suggesting others.

“Architecture and Colour”, 11×14, oil on canvas

I played with how much information to give the viewer and the composition. Then I went big and into color.  Using a large canvas gave me the room to use various tools, other than a paint brush to apply and mix paint directly on the canvas. This gave me full range of motion of my arm to accentuate movement in the step stride as well as her tail. I played with balancing the weight of vibrant colours as I went back and forth over how many details to leave for the viewer’s eye to fill in. I purposely left in some of my sketch or now I will call them ‘drafting lines’, letting the blue in the base layer to come through.

©jenniferpratt, equine art, equine decor, emerge series

“Emerge #1″, 24″x30”, oil on canvas

Lastly, one more walk stride later; the line was there as my base, but I grew past and it became freer, looser, more spontaneous. All those years of feeling constricted by the line I was trained with had become the foundation, yet not limiting me.

©Jennifer Pratt, equine art, horse art, equestrian decor

Emerge #2, 24″x30″, oil on canvas

They are a burst of life and colour in the studio.  Visitors in my studio, who have seen this work in person, remark on how they feel a connection to the equine subject, as if she is stepping out of the canvas, towards themselves, the viewer. I take that as a great complement.

For now, I have decided to hang onto the first breakthrough sketch. I just can’t seem to part with it just yet. 🙂


equine art-jennifer Pratt-oil painting-horses-foal

“Apparition” 9×12, oil on panel, unframed

Click HERE to bid.

This painting began just over 4 years ago (eeks!) At the time I was beginning to play with different tools to move paint, (a rubber dough scraper) creating different types of edges. This type of play has become regular practice today in my work.

For some reason the painting was overlooked and hasn’t found a home in all this time. So I gave it a little more attention this week. Reworked her head a wee bit and here she is again – slightly anew! May she find a great home finally! She is listed in Daily Paintworks Auction. Starting bid was $50 (+S&H) and as of posting this, she is at $70. Great opportunity to own an original piece of artwork, so join in the bidding fun!

JP 😊

Exploring Cold Wax and the Intuitive Process

equine art, abstract, cold wax

“Glow” 10×14, oil and cold wax on paper

Last month, I treated myself to a week of learning new tricks. First was a 3-day monotype print class with local printmaker and collage artist Marcy Baker, then 4-days with Cold Wax artist and author, Serena Barton. The two workshops complemented each other well and I enjoyed the comradery amongst the fellow students. There is something different about learning in new-to-me media and then bringing it into my own work and existing skill set. It’s refreshing to be a beginner at something. I seem to have less expectations of myself, and therefore I’m far more relaxed and open to learning. Maybe if you are an artist yourself, you can relate. I have a tendency to be impossibly hard on myself. As a result, I’ve had some anxiety issues going into oil painting workshops in the recent past. The desire to produce noteworthy artwork, trumps learning anything new, which ends up being a detriment to the entire experience. Moving forth, I decided it would be better to put myself in a position of learning where it was impossible to have expectations, because I had nothing to compare to.

cold wax, abstract art,

“Eagle Creek” 10″x14″ oil and cold wax on paper

The most intriguing lesson of the workshops was discovering the wonder of working intuitively. Over the course of the week I managed to evolve and let go of any preconceived idea of what my paintings may look like in the end. This is when the real work began, the artwork became something I actually liked and was proud of.  The medium, pigment, surface, energy and perhaps how much coffee I consumed controlled the process. As a representational artist, it was a challenging notion to let go. When I stopped forcing the horse to appear, my own work improved. It’s a unique feeling to switch into this gear of going by feel and driven by spontaneity.

cold wax, abstract art

“Etruscan Horse” 10×14″ oil and cold wax

It wasn’t until I was home and put the artwork on my shelf that I saw a waterfall, forest fire and basalt rock of the Columbia Gorge, which is how ‘Eagle Creek’ named itself. A friend pointed out a figure resembling an Etruscan style horse, which then named that image itself simply – “Etruscan Horse”. “Glow” was a slightly different process, where I used watercolor crayon to lay the form of a horse in, then wiped over and exposed different areas, till the image just felt right and she spoke to me as complete.

This work is completely different from anything I’ve ever completed. I had no idea I was even capable of producing abstract work, but there it is. Understandably some of my current collectors will love it, others will not. Change and evolving can be difficult to adjust to. Much like when your favorite musician releases a new album with a different sound, and you just don’t quite get it. However after a few listens, the same artist you love is there, and you can begin to appreciate the growth and courage it took to step outside their comfort zone.

Pigathius Lee


haflinger, equine art, oil on panel, “Pigathius Lee” 8×10, oil on panel

Available via Daily Paintworks, HERE

Titles for paintings don’t always come easy. One of my favorite models; Ruby the Haflinger,  is sometimes affectionately known in the barn as ‘Miss Piggy’. However, I wasn’t sure if calling this painting Miss Piggy would correctly characterize the grace that Ruby is able to carry off. She is one of my favorite models, a real ham, she can go from exuding incredible elegance, to contorting her body in some weird pretzel, in seconds flat, just so she can get a better chance of scoring a delightful (low-calorie) treat. In all my years of meeting horses for models, I’ve honestly never met a character quite like her.

I set off doing some quick online research hoping I would get led down a successful titling a painting rabbit hole, ending up on the Wikapedia page for the real Miss Piggy. It turns out in Muppets episode 116,  Piggy explains that her name “is short for “Pigathius”, “from the Greek, meaning ‘river of passion'” . In another episode she is referred to as Piggy Lee. So the two together, Bingo! there is my title! I personally love this study of her, it exemplifies her grace, yet there is subtle humour in the title.

Musings on Evolution as an Artist

equine art, Jennifer Pratt, contemporary art,

Mayday Emerge Series, 24×36, oil on gallery depth canvas, work in progress, or maybe done???

Many years ago, I think around 2003?? I had an experience I have not forgotten while I was exhibiting as an art vendor at a local horse show back in Ontario.  An older man came to my booth, he perused my artwork then stated quite bluntly ‘Where is the YOU in this work?’  He muttered a few more words then left, obviously not impressed. Back then, I remember being quite offended, I just wanted him to leave my booth, my feathers were quite ruffled over the nerve to offer his unsolicited criticism that my artwork lacked my personal authenticity. (If you are unfamiliar with the artwork I produced back then, HERE is a link.)

Perhaps it is time that passes, experience and maturity that the day finally comes along where you can actually start to ‘get’ what someone was trying to say to you. I certainly don’t regret the days where my ultimate goal was photo realism of my equine subjects nor do I criticize other artists for choosing to stick with any one style. This is my personal evolution as an artist and the foundation I have myself alone. However now, I am just beginning to look for more within. Skills that I have been taught along the way, life experiences both good and bad, combined with the many, (many!!) hours experimenting in the studio with new ideas, that I can begin to understand, ‘what is me?’


Drafting Mayday, Emerge series. 11×14 oil on panel.

I think perhaps finding oneself through artwork is a moving target. Or if I want to think even more complex, perhaps the moving target is Me? (whoa, deep I know!) I know this, I am quick to bore. I jump around between many different projects the studio. And a newish habit, I like putting a random colour somewhere on my canvas, just to see how it changes the entire picture. As I watch Lesley Humphrey’s online tutorials, she often states, “Same is BOR-ING”. I giggle to myself, because I completely understand this. The same IS boring!  But no matter what project I’m working on, I am also starting to recognize some correlation in my artistic approach to line and composition and embracing that as my own process.

Drafting Mayday, again. This time wiping her form away from canvas

Then, there is that moving target again, one day I am sure to look back, read this and see I have evolved beyond what I thought was my own, onto something else yet again. However, I know this, regardless of what lies ahead, I will still be an artist.

equine art, ©jenniferpratt, horse painting

KyKy, 11×14, oil on panel, commissioned artwork

Final notes and goals for 2019;  I’m taking a break from commission work to explore ideas. Work solely for me and anyone whoever decides they love it enough to buy it. I’m taking a few workshops in different mediums, Oil & Cold Wax is next week! I hope to find a mentor, or have them find me? I envision someone like a good personal trainer who intuitively knows when they can push and when offer words of encouragement when I’m burning out or feeling low about art. Someone without their own ego to manage. I’m still struggling/searching/looking to find my art tribe here in Portland, so maybe I will make some new artist friends this year. I plan to work larger, I’m ready for canvases bigger than 8×10, and I’m not as scared to (sometimes) waste the paint trying. Lastly, finally have enough inventory to ship some paintings out. Equis Art gallery has a few good ones so check them out. Happy New Year friends 🙂

Lesson with the Buckskin Mare

equine art, Jennifer pratt, oil painting, dressage, horse art,

Lesson with the Buckskin Mare, 12″x12″, Oil on Panel

Available via Daily Paintworks HERE

Gina, the buckskin Quarter Horse from British Columbia returns as my model again.  This time I’ve captured her in action during her dressage schooling with trainer Jessica Kellner.  As I was planning this painting, I hoped to create some drama where I could play with movement in the paint. I was also envisioning a luminous glow from her unique buckskin colour.  I tweaked my palette by simplifying my paint selection down to an analogous scheme of 5 colours; Yellow Green, Cad Yellow light, Raw Sienna, Brown Madder & Quinacridone Red light. Phthalo Blue acts as a contrasting complementary colour to add interest.

I’m quite happy with result, she really jumps off the canvas and subtle variations in the her edges flow and move. It’s exciting to finish a piece of work to feel inspired about further possibilities. I am thinking this palette will work nicely with my haflinger model Ruby as well, and I’m thinking something much larger in size 🙂

“Favada”, 22×28 oil on canvas

I wanted to share a highlight from the studio.  I am happy to report the large painting of Favada has sold. It turns out through the amazing wonders of social media, the original breeder of the mare came across the painting from a Facebook share. She recognized her immediately. Little did I know, that Favada was the last mare the original owner bred and sold before retiring from the breeding dressage horses in California. The painting now has her forever home, in what could not be a better outcome for everyone 🙂


Gathering for Winter

Summer is winding down in the Pacific Northwest.  The cool rains will soon come and with horses, this means mud and fuzzy coats. With that, the optimal season to be out studying, sketching and photographing new subjects is ending. Yet, I can look forward to retreating into my Sellwood Studio for the winter months to focus on production of new paintings. I thought I would share a sneak-peek into what and who I will be working with over the winter months.

haflinger, jennifer pratt, blonde horses

Glorious Ruby

Next there is Ruby the Haflinger of Boondoggle Farm in Washougal Washington.   You might remember some oil bar studies I did a short while ago that Ruby was my model. I went back to see Ruby again because I wanted some reference to her in sunlight. It was drizzling rain on my first visit. I knew with sun lighting her coat she would come off with some brilliant metallic copper and gold. Now I know I usually stick to warmbloods as my subjects, but 5 minutes with Ruby and she will capture your heart. She is an exquisite model, yet full of character. She made me laugh all through all her photo sessions. She really likes food! like a lot! She has mastered the ability to go back and forth from total glam model (I call it her Zoolander face) to lip flapping, extended, weird angled twisted neck without moving her feet (see below) thorough the entire model session.

Haflinger, miss piggy, Zoolander

Ruby being weird but still beautiful

Next on the winter agenda is a series of showjumping paintings. I just got back from my first trip to Spruce Meadows Masters. I have been watching Spruce Meadows on CBC every year since I was a small child. Now living in the PNW, Calgary is just a short hour and 45 minute plane trip so I took advantage for the first time this year.  Three days to myself to just geek out on showjumping, YES please!!

spruce meadows, show jumping, Camargo 2, Luciana Diniz

Luciana Diniz of Portugal and Camargo 2 winning 1.60m Tourmaline Oil Cup

I had good seats in the Southwest grandstand. This is directly above/beside the in and out gate. What captured me as an artist was watching how the horses and riders entered and exited the ring. Was the horse backed off, tense or did they trot in like they owned the place? How did that play a role in round they rode? Did they walk out on a loose rein? When the exited did they pat their horse even if they had a bad round? Little things to note, maybe they don’t mean anything to anyone else, but to me, this is where my painting story started forming.

Luciana Diniz, fit for fun, spruce meadows.

Luciana Diniz and Fit for Fun, having a friendly chat by a fence that gave them problems.

Of all the horse and rider combinations I watched over three days, it was Luciana Diniz of Portugal that truly captured me. On all occasions she came trotting into the big ring on a loose rein, giant smile on her face, her horses relaxed, happy, not to mention going in very little tack comparatively to some of the gargantuan bits and gear out there (check out the snaffle!). After each ride she vigorously hugged each horse and engaged the crowd to share in her joy. Her charisma was infectious and I was indeed caught up in it. Fit for Fun aka ‘Fitty’ had just one rail down in the jump off on Sundays CP International Grand Prix. When they returned for the ribbon presentation she walked over to where they had the rail, they stood and had a chat. I can only imagine what she was saying, but it would seem by her extended hand she was giving the mare a little pep talk for the next time they see a similar tall, skinny vertical a couple of strides after a double liverpool combination. After checking out her website, Luciana just seems like an all round awesome person, I hope I am so lucky to see her jump again.

So as you can see, I am ready to hunker down for winter with ideas, I’m ready to get to work! ????