Antler Gallery in Portland is hosting their ninth annual group exhibition, Unnatural Histories. Artists are asked to depict mythical creatures from existing lore, or their own imagination, with reference to traditional natural history paintings, drawings and sculpture. When invited to make a piece for the exhibit, I had no choice but to make an oil painting of a unicorn.
I have a four year old son who is obsessed with these horned beasts. Unicorn drawings and parts of unicorn costumes have found their way all over my house and my painting studio.
I wanted ground my fantastic creature in traditional equine painting. I love the full body paintings of horses that were popular in early Georgian England. The masters George Stubbs and Jacques-Laurent Agasse are particular favorites of mine with their mix of landscape and formality.
The model for my unicorn was my sister in law’s Polish Arabian horse Vibey. Molly used to spend one day a week with Isaac until he was two years old and I wonder if she my have influenced his love of unicorns? When she saw the painting, she said, “you’ve painted the unicorn horn that I could always see”. Vibey was a rescue horse and she and Molly were very close. When asked to write a story about the painting, I imagined a fantastic setting with a little Molly saving Vibey, mirroring the true story between these two. Go to the galleries website to read my story.
Vibey was born on Whidby Island here in the Pacific Northwest. Placing her in a setting where she could see and hear the water felt like I was paitning her at her home.
oil on aluminum, 11″ x 14″