Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dreaming Arabians: A Visit with Fine Artist Marian Duncan

Acrylic on handmade paper.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan

Dreaming Arabians: A Visit with Fine Artist Marian Duncan
by Gina McKnight

Archived Article from the August/September 2017 Issue of Arabian Finish Line 
No duplication without permission

“Whatever you ask of them, they will do it.”

From Manildra Australia, New South Wales, welcome fine artist Marian Duncan! With a passion for horses from a young age, Marian combines photographs, imagination, and her love for horses to create an original masterpiece. She has had many of her designs and artwork used by the Arabian Horse Society through the years for different promotions. Marian just completed the design for the 2019 WAHO (World Arabian Horse Organization) logo, to be held in Australia. She has captured the beauty of prized mares and stallions, and embraced her own Arabians on canvas. 

GM: Marian, you are known throughout the world for your art. Arabian horses are your specialty. Each of your paintings showcase your passion for the Arabian horse! How do you develop powerful imagery in your artwork?
MD: When I was a little girl, I would sit under the big old pine trees and draw my neighbor’s horses, dreaming of owning one. I saw my first Arabian in my father’s newspaper, I remember thinking it was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. It grew from there. Everything inspires me; the horses, color, light and shade, movement, the landscape. I think and dream Arabians. I just love to paint and draw, it’s like breathing to me.

GM: You have won many awards and accolades for your art. Congratulations! Your art captures the soul – both of your subject and the viewer. Your studio must be aesthetically inviting to enhance your design and talent. Tell us about your studio and your schedule…
MD: I live in a 100 year old mud and straw home. I have old furniture and things (clutter), lots of art materials, magazines, paints, paper, etc. I like to try and paint nearly every day, after feeding my horses and my husband David, and a few household jobs, usually bare essentials, so I can get painting.

GM: Besides the beauty of the horse, do you have a muse or two that drives your creativity?
MD: I have my little friends – two Australian cattle dogs, Soda and Tom; Soda lies next to me when I paint, and one fat cat, Harry. I have three Arabian mares; Danjera Shaania, Delraki Saakifa, and Hideaway Farm Just Imagine. I have just bought a very pretty gelding, Bey Illusion, who will be one year in August; Bey Illusion’s sire is Echos of Marwan; dam, Hideaway Farm Gabriel. Bey Illusion is extremely pretty, and I hope to be able to ride him when he grows up. If not, I’ll use him for my art. The first two mares are retired. I ride Hideaway Farm Just Imagine just around Manildra.

GM: As a world artist, have you traveled to paint outside of your studio, to far horse stables? If so, where have you been?
MD: Over the years, I have traveled to Arabian studs to see many of my favorite horses. Dassefa was one of them, plus many others. I would take my camera. I now have my trusty Nikon. I love it. I also love to photograph horses at the Arabian shows, canids mostly, anything that takes my eye, that I think would make a great painting. Sometimes just their feet for detail. Sometimes I paint straight from my photo, or I might change the color, or even the sex. I might use one photo, or twenty to thirty. Sometimes I might just get an idea and just draw it. I did sit and draw horses from life, but these days I like the comfort of my own home, at my easel.

GM: Arabian horses are known for their keen spirit and exceptional disposition. I know you fell in love with Arabians at an early age. Of all the horse breeds, why have you chosen the Arabian horse to be the center of your creativity?
MD: The Arabian Horse! I can draw or paint anything I would like to choose, sometimes I might do something different. The Arabian horse is my passion from that first photo I saw as a child. To me they are the most beautiful of all. I love everything about them. I try to capture that in my art. I feel so lucky to be able to create art about a subject I love so much. I hope people can see what is in my heart through my art, especially if they share that same passion for the Arabian horse. I think they have the smartest sweetest temperaments. Whatever you give them, they will return it. Whatever you ask of them, they will do it.

GM: Bravo! Your passion does shine through in your art! To create a masterpiece, what is the best medium to use?
MD: Mediums all have different properties. I love them all. I like to change between them to keep a change for myself, also to try and freshen up my ideas. I think I love oils the most, the rich vibrant color, so lovely to blend, so full of life. I also like to experiment and try something new.

GM: What masterpiece are your currently creating?
MD: At the moment, I am working on an oil on fine linen, three desert mares, two greys and a bay, with just a simple background; palm trees, a mud wall, and desert. It is from a recent trip to Nankeen Arabian Stud out west from my place, from a photo I took of three young colts. I turned them to mares, changed their colors using my imagination. I loved the way they were grouped, looking at the colors and shadows.

GM: People want to see your work! You have a large following from around the world. Where are you currently exhibiting?
MD: I have paintings always hanging at Jayes Art Gallery in Molong N.S.W. I like to display my art each year at the Australian Arabian National Championship Show.

GM: Do you have advice for novice artists looking to capture the essence of horses in art?
MD: Just draw and paint. Just do it! Learn as much as you can, then take the part you like and apply it to your own style that you like. It is like throwing a ball through a hoop, the more you do the better you can become. Look for your mistakes. Nothing is perfect. Then learn from them. Art is a lifetime of learning. Most of all, enjoy it!!!

Connect with Marian…

Gina McKnight is an equestrian and writer from Ohio USA.

Marian in her studio.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
Oil on color from photographs.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
Oil on linen with permission from Jenni Ogden.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan
HEAD STUDYFine ink, white pastel on paper.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan

Oil on color from photo, inspired by Oriental drawings.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan

Oil on fine linen.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan

Oil on fine linen.
(c) copyright Marian Duncan

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