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Why I Paint Horses, Dogs, and Cats

Why I Paint Horses, Dogs, and Cats

by animal artist Sue Steiner

Part I

I have also loved animals.  I have always felt a connection with animals.  I love nature, wildlife, pets, and horses.  I also love faces.  I love expression and emotion and color.  I began painting and drawing animals, pets, and horses in particular as a child.  I wanted a horse or pony of my own SO badly but grew up in a home where we never even owned a dog, so a horse was completely out of the realm of possibilities.  My sister and I laugh now that when we begged and begged our parents for a pet we were finally allowed a couple goldfish which we were only allowed to keep in the garage.  Needless to say, since I live in Ohio, they did not survive long. 😦  Finally, as a teen, we had a couple grey tabby cats, Nathan and Jesse who we all loved.

My first dogs came to me not long after I moved out of the family home.  I had a couple poodles that I dearly loved.  Once I married, my husband bought me my first horse.  I had scrapped together babysitting money as a teen for riding lessons to feed my horse fascination but to have my very own horse was truly a dream come true.  I have owned horses now for 26 years.  I was diagnosed, much to my horror, of being allergic to horses last winter but just cannot imagine life without them.  I also have 3 dogs, a Schipperke named Toby, a Golden Retriever named Molly.   My 4 horses include Abbey, a 25 yrs old. An Arabian mare I have had since birth, and my Tennesse Walkers, Cimarron a 16.1 hand gorgeous liver roan sabino gelding, Porsche, a sturdy 15.2 hand sweetheart grey mare, and Willow, my newest horse, a pretty, petite black sabino 14 ish hand mare.  I am hoping Willow will be my grandkids trail horse once they learn to ride on Abbey.

So how did I come about painting?  The short answer is, I just tried it one day!   I had been drawing with colored pencils after not doing any art for the majority of my adult life, and just picked it up as a stress reliever.  I reconnected with my love of drawing and art in my early 40’s.  I have to say, it is a shame that art is often dropped from school curriculums because my last official art class was in middle school!  I quickly moved from simple colored pencil drawings to horses (of course) and people portraits, which I also love.  I started in acrylics, moved on to watercolor and them a bit later found oils, which are my favorite medium.  I still work in watercolors and added pastels but only tolerate acrylics now as underpaintings to my oils.  I occasionally use them for abstract horse paintings and ‘poured paintings’ but love the richness of the oils too much to not stay with them.

I became a professional artist in 2005 ish when Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio hired me to paint life-sized farm animal and horse murals in their then new store!  It was an exciting opportunity and one I threw myself into whole-heartedly!  In fact, I accepted the job never having painted that large before!  With a beginner’s naivete, I went from small, detailed floral and animal watercolors to large, life-sized outdoor murals- with a tight deadline, no less!!  My biggest achievement there is the life-sized indoor mural of a pair of draft horses at a hitching post in Lehman’s Buggy Barn room.  I hand drew that mural, not even able to see the complete image while drawing with chalk on the wall,  by a series of dots I drew from a graph I made based on my photo reference.  I just came up with this method once I was faced with – how in the world do I draw something I can’t even see the whole image of?  Some I place dots at reference points and drew in the specific body part I could see and stepped back several feet to be able to see how it all fit in.

Some older links to my murals and time at Lehman’s.

I went on to do another mural at the Wooster Children’s Services family visiting room.

As I began to paint more with oils, my alla prima style began to emerge using thick paint and visible brushstrokes.  This is still a favorite way for me to paint.

see Part II here.

If you, are anyone you know, are interested in a pet portrait or painting of your horse, please take a look at my artwork and website. I would love to talk about what you have in mind. I specialize in dogs, cats, horses, horse and rider, pet and owner, farm animal and wildlife paintings. I work from small custom stall signs to Life-Sized!

Find me on: Facebook  Etsy  Pinterest  Instagram  Twitter  Website:

#animalartist #catartist #dogartist #artistwhopaintsanimals #equineartwork #horseartist #paintedhorses #equinedrawing #equinesketch #paintingdogs #petartist #animalart

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