Don’t ask me why I love to paint dem horseys~I’m not sure I would be able to give you an answer. Drawn on my own (i.e. without a kind horsey to sit for me), they don’t even look like horseys, really, and I’m quite sure they’re nowhere near anatomically correct 😸
And not just horseys, but anything horsey, i.e. horseys with horns, wings, human body parts; horseys on carnival rides, horseys in the nursery~except hobby horses. I don’t know, for some reason, it has always bothered me to have just a horse head on a stick 😥
I have a vague idea of when I started drawing and painting them, around the time I was 12? Not exactly sure because I had been heavily into bears until I was about 15 (I still love bears, though). (That’s me~kuma’s and uma’s 😹).
I can, however, name three main influences on how I developed the way I draw and paint horseys:
1. Starlite (Rainbow Brite’s horse). (Surprisingly, Spirit / Swiftwind (She-Ra’s horse) and My Little Pony (the original chunkies, not the Rainbow Dash variety) are not on this list, even though they are ‘decade-mates’.)
2. The Black Stallion. I never actually saw this movie, but I did grow up with a book with photos from the film and I spent a lot of time drawing the magnificent Arabian in it.
3. The Sarimanok. Oddly, this isn’t even a horse~not even close. It’s a bird from Philippine mythology. We were taught to draw it a certain way back in high school, and for some reason I adapted its feathers for use in my manes and tails. Only one person ever noticed this (the son of a famous artist I happen to be related to) and I was pleasantly surprised when he called me out on it.
I was 12 when I first learned about Sarimanoks and drew them as a high school freshman for school. And to this very day, I can’t say why~just as I’m sure I can’t say why I hadn’t written this post before.
But I am writing it now 🤪 So here are the top 10 horseys I’ve done so far that I’m most fond of (just solo’s, though I have done horseys in groups~I also can’t say why, please bear with me 😸).
1. Notebook Steed
Approximately 4 x 4’ / 121.92 x 121.92 cm, Acrylic on Paper, 2011
This is the ‘basic’ horsey I used to draw in the margins and the backs of my notebooks back in school. Sometimes he had a horn or wings, sometimes both, sometimes he was on pole and had a saddle, sometimes he got very elaborate (depending on how boring the class was I guess lol). So for the exhibit he was in I wanted to ‘make a serious version’.
Approximately 20” x 16 / 50.8 x 40.64 cm, Acrylic on Paper, 2008
Sorry, no extra points for Disney fans who’ve divined where I got the name for this one (and if you have, I’m sure you know why lazy jill only gave him his ‘nickname’ 😝).
I’m fairly sure I made this for a carnival-themed Ang INK exhibit, and that the paper it’s painted on was canvas paper (I usually paint on watercolour paper even when I’m using acrylic). I have a vague memory of not stretching that paper very well on my grandfather’s drawing board. Like Notebook Steed I am very sorry to not have this piece with me anymore because I am quite fond of it.
3 x 3’ / 91.44 x 91.44, Acrylic on Canvas, ca 2008
I remember only that I made this guy for a group show and that I never got him back, which I regret, really because I remember having so much fun making him. I’d mixed plastic sand with the acrylic, you see, and I can’t get enough of the crunch~hard on the knives, I admit, but well worth the wear and the weight (the finished piece always weighs a tonne afterwards).
I also remember that a famous artist who’d been in the same group show (or had organised it, I don’t remember now)~saw this piece and thought my work was rather ‘shallow’. I’d realised this only when the artist had seen one of my ‘more serious’ pieces afterwards and told me that ‘I was deep after all’. I don’t remember whether I said anything in response to that observation; I just wish I’d gotten my Piñata back.
I’m not sure if you can see it, but the horsey is scared, actually, and the background is meant to reflect a state of agitation. I mean, you would be, too, if you were about to be beaten to death by a bunch of greedy human children who can’t wait to feast on your innards 😆
4. Untitled (Horse)
20 x 28” / 50.8 x 71.12, Acrylic on Canvas, 2012
Not an official part of my canon and I’m ashamed to confess I made this piece as a gift for my step-grandmother but I became so enamoured of it, I never gave it to her. (She passed away some years ago, so…)
I think it’s because it’s sort of in the same vein x a lot like Notebook Steed; you might say this is a ‘postcard steed’~ a lot like the horseys I made for friends on postcards. In any case, I remember Mom saying this horsey didn’t have a whole lot of hair 😆 It still has the hooks on the back from when it spent some time on the ceiling of the living room back at my parents’ house.
16.75 x 10.5" / 42.545 x 26.67 cm, Watercolour on Paper, 2011
One of my better pieces, technically, I hope~I think I made this in reaction to Alice in Wonderland where there were ‘rocking horseflies’ and I just wanted to make a straight-up horsefly. I think I might’ve grossed myself out working on him 😆 Please don’t swat him, though 😅
36 x 48" / 91.44 x 121.92 cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 2013
Here’s a little video I made about this piece which is my favourite from the show it was in (you’ll have to excuse the bit about the goldfish). The only thing I can add about this is that the tikbalang (a Philippine mythological creature with the head of a horse and the body of a man (more or less) in it is modelling my brother’s barong.
36 x 24” / 91.44 x 60.96 cm, Oil on Canvas, 2018
This is a very personal piece that’s about a horse who was on a boat with some friends, and, they scuttled the boat. The friends the horse was in the boat with took their own boat and went in another direction. I remember painting this in this front room in my parents’ house while my siblings were in the same room playing a video game.
11.61417 x 8.26772 / 29.5 x 21 cm, Ink on Paper, 2020
For the life of me, I can’t remember what the S stands for, but the ‘wing’ is literal. This was the first of a set of three I did for a group show in the US, and for this one I’m pretty sure I used a tiny, flat nib for the most part and a brush for the back.
11.61417 x 8.26772 / 29.5 x 21 cm, Ink on Paper, 2020
This was the third of the set and I used a broader, flat nib; the ‘bat’ is for the wing type, although I know it’s hard to tell (the wing is folded). I have a special affinity for Shetlands; I’ve always felt they were ‘me’~kind of like how an Arabian is my ‘ideal self’ but a Shetland is my ‘actual self’ 🤣
10. Untitled (Yellow Taka)
Approximately 12 x 12 x 3.25” / 30.48 x 30.48 x 8.255 cm, Acrylic on Papier-Mâché, 2019
There is something eminently therapeutic for me about painting taka. I have this fantasy I’ll paint a bazillion taka and stick them in an installation someday. I never gave this yellow guy a name, but I ought to. He only has three siblings; one of them is blue and he went to the owner of an ad agency I used to work for. The other two are still raw and I mean to paint them someday, hopefully under happier circumstances.
Runner-up: Untitled (Blue Horse)
16 x 20 / 50.8 x 40.64 cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 1997
Talk about blast from the past~I painted this little blue horse (no relation to Franz Marc) way back in an acrylic class I was taking at the museum. Remember I mentioned Black Stallion back at the beginning? This was him, only he’s blue 😆 I’m pretty sure that was him on that deserted island he was stuck on with that little boy. In any case, I’m glad I still have this piece, I’m super very fond of it and I hope I have improved since then. 🙏
I also hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did writing it (and maybe even as much as I enjoyed making the pieces in this post). And if I may express a third wish, I hope that you’ll keep an eye out for any new horseys I paint or draw in the future. If you’d like to be one of the first to know about new work from me, I’d like to invite you to become a jillafriend, here.
* Interested in any of the pieces in this post?
Drop me a line to let me know
and I'll let you know if it's still available,
or how soon I can make something similar just for you.