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After many years working as a book designer and illustrator, Roey Fitzpatrick, realised she wanted to make pictures for herself and took up oil-painting. She was living in Scottsdale, Arizona USA, at the time and had access to whole streets of art galleries, many of which specialised in Western art and exhibited some of America's top 'cowboy' artists. Roey loved to paint horses, but wanted to try her hand at portraits and soon had commissions combining the two.
Since returning to Australia and settling in Kilcoy, Queensland, life has been pretty full, but Roey makes time to indulge in her passion for painting, writing and performing – she is a published writer and accomplished singer, as well as an outstanding painter!
Horsezone visited Roey at her beautiful Star Hill Studio, for a quick chat between paintings...
How did you first become involved with horses?
I was a city kid. My first 'horse' was a length of four-by-two balanced between the laundry window and the septic tank. My saddle was an old veranda cushion and the reins and stirrups were pieces cut from the clothes-line. The following Christmas (I was five) Santa came up trumps with a lovely, old-fashioned rocking horse. I rode him until I outgrew him. A few years later I sold him on and the proceeds gave me the impetus to save for my first pony.
Best experience with horses?
Hard to say, as just being around horses is wonderful. I suppose the most memorable experience was when I first sat astride the bare back of my three-year-old thoroughbred filly, Lasca, whom I had bred and was 'breaking-in' by the Jeffery Method. It was magic. Having said that, I can still remember the warmth, the smell and the feel of sitting on a real pony for the very first time. I painted 'Twelve Hands Nearer Heaven' from those memories (right).
What inspired you to begin painting horses and when did you complete your first portrait?
I have been drawing and painting horses since before I can remember, just because I have always thought them beautiful. I think when I was small I wanted to be a horse. My first actual horse portrait, 'Pippa's Pony' was painted in 2003 (below).
What do you love most about painting horse portraits?
Horse portraits are challenging, especially when the client knows horses as well as, or better than I do. Not only do you have to achieve a good likeness, you can't afford to gloss over anatomical details. It's easy to spot a picture painted from a photograph by someone who doesn't know how the joints and muscles work. I get attached to my subjects. Sometimes it's hard to part with a painting once it's done.
Which was your favourite horse to paint?
I loved painting my latest portrait (right). The little girl was charming and unaffected and the pony very attractive. They both had great personalities to paint, but getting the pony's contours right and a sense of depth and solidity with that broken coat was challenging.
Plans and goals for the future?
I would like to have a steady trickle of portrait commissions while still indulging in my other creative pursuits. I am working on a young adult novel and have produced three children's picture books. I'm back illustrating again, but now I'm illustrating my own work, which is much more fun!
To view more of Roey's work or contact her about comissioning a painting visit www.starhillstudio.com.au