I am happy to share one of my favorite equine painters with you: Katie Upton.  Based in Santa Barbara California, her larger than life works are fresh and yet classic. Her color choices and compositions are dynamic and a joy to see.  You may have seen her work around (Secretariat.com sells a poster of her painting of Secretariat) and I am sure you’ve seen several artists emulating her style. The one and only Katie Upton offers her work at various price points for any budget (which is awesome).  I dream of owning one of her large scale paintings one day.

Clydesdale Weanlings #2 by Katie Upton

What is your favorite medium?

I don’t really have a preferred medium.  I have always used drawing as my foundation.  Sometimes it becomes a painting and sometimes it works better as a drawing.  I consider drawing a fundamental language that is a direct and fast expression of what I need to say.  Maybe it is an idea or a form I remember and that starts the process.  I make a fast gesture drawing and then work it into a painting or I leave it as a drawing.

Palominos # 51, 2011 by Katie Upton

How long have you been creating art?

I have been drawing and painting since I was very young.  I have been a professional artist for 25 years.  My first solo exhibition was in 1989.

white horse #64 by Katie Upton

How did you become an artist?

I have always been an artist, but I decided to study art in the late 70s after a trip to Italy and observing some of the old masters…most especially Michelangelo.

Zenyatta by Katie Upton

How did the horse become one of your primary subjects? 

I have always been a horse crazy girl.  I drew horses from a very early age, but it wasn’t until graduate school that I returned to horse imagery.  My first body of horse work was larger than life charcoal drawings on paper.

Clydesdale #22 by Katie Upton

What is your creative process?

Most all the paintings I do are imaginary.  I draw from memory.  I think of my work as a collective of all the observation and knowledge that I have stored in my head since I was a child.  The horses that are born from my paintings are the result of years of study and knowing many horses.  My paintings are also the result of a lot that I cannot explain and don’t claim to understand.  It just happens.  The only paintings that are real horses are commissions of specific horses which I do a lot of and are really fun.  I get to meet many lovely horses and their people either in person or via photographs.  I don’t copy photographs, but I use them to refer to for information.  I also have some models grazing in the backyard who I refer to a lot!

Palomino # 49, 2011 by Katie Upton

Tell us a little bit about the most important horses in your life.  

I have had many horses in my life.  I got my first pony Sugar when I was 4 and she was my best friend for nearly thirty years.  Her spirit is in every painting I do.  Chico, a lovely Arab gelding, was my first trail horse and I had him for almost 20 years.  We were very close and I miss having that kind of bond that seems to be once in a lifetime.  Those two stand out for me the most.  But then there was also Jimmy, my daughter’s pony who was such a wonderful caretaker.  I loved him dearly too.  And then there is Lady and Nicky and Boo and Maxine and Luke…to name a few.  I loved them all

Foals # 34, 2014 by Katie Upton

Katie Upton is based in Santa Barbara, Ca.  If you would like to contact Katie to inquire about a commission or order available artworks, posters and giclees you can visit her website or follow her on Facebook.

Please do not copy or distribute photos without permission.   

Katie Upton with NF horse mural