I first saw wild horses in Utah in 2009. In 2010 I visited the Spring Creek herd near Cortez, Colorado, and in 2011 I visited the Sand Wash Basin herd. Then I visited 3 herd areas this summer. I discovered the Salt River Wild Horses in May 2010 and was thrilled. I spent a considerable amount of time learning their patterns and taking photos. Then I carried a small sketch book and did very small ink sketches and took notes about their behavior. I eventually made a light weight paint box that I carry in a Camelpak.
When painting a human model, an artist can pose them. When painting a domestic horse from life, we can tie them to a hitching rail or hire a wrangler to keep them square. There are no such constraints when painting wild horses. It is some of that lack of constraint that is attractive to me. Painting wild horses from life is challenging, yet the vitality of living in the moment with these horses is a very free feeling. The field studies, and photographs are the foundation for larger studio paintings.” ~ Karen McLain