Saturday, January 5, 2019

An Interview with Caroline Towning, Contemporary Equestrian Artist

An Interview with Caroline Towning, Contemporary Equestrian Artist
By Gina McKnight
As seen in the November/December 2018 Issue of Arabian Finish Line
No duplication without permission.

“My paintings are about bringing the horse closer to the human.”

Through the convenience of the internet, the world has become smaller. We can connect with artists around the world who share our love of horses and their beauty. Connecting with Caroline Towning and viewing her art has been a wonderful experience.

Currently living in London, Caroline grew up near Harrogate in Yorkshire, surrounded by horses and dogs. Caroline writes, “I learned to ride before I could properly talk. It was no surprise that my first drawings were of horses and dogs.”

With her pony alongside, Caroline grew into her teens, becoming a keen amateur showjumper and a “familiar face on the Yorkshire circuit.” She rode through the Harewood Estate with her young friends, boarding her horses at Wikefield Farm. In her early years, she spent hours gazing and studying horses, then finally sketching, learning how to draw horses and capture their essence.

GM: Welcome Caroline! So many artists capture the beauty of horses. Your art has a different flair; inspired. What motivates you to create equine art and to paint the Arabian horse?
CT: I think there is something deep in my psyche that connects to horses as I have been drawn to them for as long as I was old enough to hold a pencil. My earliest friendships were formed with animals. I grew up in a house where there were horses everywhere as my mum always rode and she had plastered our entire home decor with a horse theme. I can't remember when it started but the horse obsession has just always been there.

GM: An artist's life seems glamorous and intriguing. People are interested in your daily routine, how you like your coffee, and your painting schedule. Describe a day in your life...
CT: Being an artist is quite lonely and you have to be very self-motivated as you spend a lot of time on your own with the painting and your own thoughts. I try and structure it like any other job and keep regular hours. A typical day is I wake up, make coffee for my husband and tea for me. Then I take the dog out for a long walk around Hampstead Heath which clears my head. Hampstead Heath is my favorite place in London and a place where I spend a lot of my time. I get back home and go to my studio and spend the rest of the day painting. I normally have about three to six paintings on the go at once as oil can take up to two weeks to dry and rotate them while layers of oil paint dry. I have a short break at lunch and then I work till about six and then I normally go to an evening yoga class to clear the day out of my head. Then I come back and have dinner, then I do a little bit of work late into the evening, and then bed. At weekends I still work but at a very casual pace. 

GM: Where you paint is important. The aesthetics of your environment must drive creativity. Describe your studio, your muse, and what we will find on your shelf...
CT: My studio is absolute chaos at the moment - we are moving later this year and I have made plans to build my dream studio in the garden. My current studio space is one room I have outgrown and is spilling out into the rest of my house. I have been a slight victim of my own success and my paintings have got bigger and bigger, so I am juggling the size of the paintings with the size of the space. Luckily my paintings are selling quite quickly so I don't have much to store, but I am dreaming of a day soon where I have my perfect light-filled purpose-built studio in the garden.

GM: A garden studio sounds like heaven! With so much art leaving your easel, do you have a favorite painting of your own creation?
CT: The last painting which I have finished is a white Spanish horse. It was one of the first paintings that actually looked like the image which I had in my head when I started. The current painting which I am working on now I am completely in love with, it is a horse under a tree on a really sunny summer day and he has dapples of shadows of leaves which I am putting so much detail in. It is always the current painting which is my favourite.  

GM: They all sound so beautiful! Playing with color, design, shadows, and… horses! All within your brush! Who is your favorite artist?
CT: I am really in absolute admiration for Christian Hookes’ work, he paints a lot of horses and does them in this really amazing broken up style. He really captures the movement and mood of the animal. I find his paintings mesmerizing - I have tried doing the broken-up style but it just does not work for me, I can't get the right brush marks - it really is skillful to be able to paint like that. 

GM: You are very busy in your studio. Besides art, what do you like to do for fun and entertainment?
CT: I am a yoga obsessive. It’s a huge part of my life. I have just joined Soho House so I am spending a lot of time between the houses. They have some amazing events ran by woman business leaders.

GM: Caroline, you have a vast horse history. Currently, are you a horse owner? If you are, tell us about your horses, and let us know what horsemanship means to you...
CT: I grew up with horses and I was a keen showjumper up until my late teens. My mother still has horses and I always go riding with her when I go home to visit. She lives in Yorkshire and keeps her horses on a yard which is part of the Harewood estate where I grew up. It is such a beautiful part of the world and I dream about having my own horse again. There is plans very near in the future to buy a racehorse, something which I have in the pipeline at the moment. 

Connect with Caroline…

Gina McKnight is a freelance writer and author from Ohio USA.

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