Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor, Artist

From East Petersburg, Pennsylvania, USA, welcome multi-talented, 
world-acclaimed equestrian, master gardener, photographer, and artist, Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor!

Jennifer is the proprietor of Gypsy Mare Studios, as well as an official artist of the Trail of Painted Ponies!

When did you encounter your first horse?
My mother had a horse when I was born. She was a palomino named Gypsy that my mom purchased as an unbroken filly. The story goes that my mother took me for my first trail ride when I was only weeks old. I credit Gypsy for planting the seed that has led to a lifelong love of horses.

Do you have a favorite horse anecdote/experience?
Oh so many! Last year, while out visiting my grandmother in Nevada, I found a herd of wild horses in the desert. I have always dreamed of seeing mustangs. A foal walked away from its mother to check me out and it made me cry with joy.

Another favorite story happened when I was 18 and fresh out of school. I was riding a borrowed Arabian through the woods near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, when I met a woman walking her dogs. We struck up a conversation and she invited me to ride to her farm for a dressage lesson. Turned out she was Marjorie Haines Gill, the first woman to ride on a US Olympic team.

What is your riding discipline?
I am not currently riding on a regular basis but when I was younger I enjoyed low level eventing best.

What is the key to capturing the perfect photo?
Patience! Photographing animals requires a lot of it. Also knowing my equipment well and being able to adjust settings quickly and correctly so to not miss a moment. One of the benefits of digital photography is being able to take a lot of photos. If something strikes me I will take 10+ photos of that one thing to make sure I have captured it the way I want. I shoot in RAW mode and edit all my photographs in Lightroom. Composition is key though, and my background in art helps me frame my subject in the most appealing way.

Do you prefer to photograph indoors or out?
Definitely outdoors! I will admit that my skills with a flash are lacking. I love to work with natural light (indoor natural light is good too). This quote by George Eastman is very inspiring - "Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography."

I love your carved pumpkins! Is it difficult to transform a pumpkin into a work of art?
It is not difficult once you know the technique and have the correct (and sharp) tools. My method of carving is to use linoleum block cutting tools to cut away the top layer of skin on the pumpkin. The effect is similar to a wood cutting or etching. I love to work large on Atlantic Giant type pumpkins, the ones that weigh over 100 pounds. My mother and I have been carving at The Chadds Ford Great Pumpkin Carve for 11 years now and we often come away with a prize. She thins the walls of the pumpkin from the inside so the light shines through and shows off my design. We make a good team.

Your blog says you are a ‘witch with a hoe’…?
Ha, ha, I'm not actually a witch but some have said I have a bewitching way with plants. Gardening runs in my family. I think I was born with two green thumbs. I love to be outdoors. I love to dig in the earth and watch things grow. I don't know many artists that also don't love to garden.

As a Trail of Painted Ponies artist, which pony of your own creation is your favorite?
My favorite is probably The Unicorn's Garden. It is based on the Medieval Unicorn Tapestries that hang in The Cloisters in New York City. It ties together my love of gardening, horses, mythical beasts, history and art.

I would love to see your amazing photography up close. Are you currently exhibiting?
I am not currently exhibiting anywhere. I just brought home a photograph that was hanging in Pennsylvania's State Museum. It was the first time I had entered a juried exhibit and was very happy to have it accepted. I'm looking for a gallery that is interested in hanging my photographic work.

What are your current projects?
Every day I'm working on my photography. I started a 365 photo project on the first day of the year so I hope to keep going with that. I've also recently been bit by the wedding photography bug. It's quite enjoyable (and a wee bit stressful) to capture a couple's magical day, especially if it's in a rural setting. In the future I would like to work on a series of images that convey the bond between grooms and the horses they care for. I think they are the unsung heroes of the big show circuit world.

What do you do for fun?
Take photos! I don't leave home without my camera. Uploading images to my computer after an event or show is like Christmas morning to me.

Original artwork and photography by (c) Gypsy Mare Studios. 

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