Artist Spotlight: Katie Upton

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 ( 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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


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.