Facebook is such a great connector. How else do you get exposed to the work of an artist located in Poland when you live in California? The raw emotion and energy in Kasia’s work drew me in at first glance. Once I heared her story, I understood exactly where this art is coming from and why I have such a connection with it. She is an inspirational horsewoman and a unique and talented artist.
How did you become an artist and how long have you been doing it professionally?
I have always been interested in art ever since I can remember and was always the one who turned in homework assignments decorated in doodles. In high school, I got into stencils and graffiti and later started drawing horses. I started painting horses and selling my artwork when my dreams of furthering my riding career were crushed. I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE and Fibromyalgia and thought I might never be able to ride again. Painting horses alleviated the emotional pain of not seeing horses for months on end and also reminded me to keep fighting so that one day I could get back to the barn and back on my one horse at that time, Sławny. I had initially started painting horses just for myself, but when I got a great response on Facebook I decided to list some pieces for sale.
What is your preferred medium and why? What size do you prefer working in?
I love using acrylics. Many people think some of my paintings are actually watercolor because of the generous amounts of water I use, causing the paint to drip. I used to be nervous about painting anything over 50x60cm but now my favorite size is BIG. I mean, I love working on 120x100cm canvases and hope to go even larger. I feel like I have more freedom the more blank canvas I have!
How did the horse become your primary subject?
Being diagnosed with Lupus SLE and Fibromyalgia was the point in my life where I actually started painting horses. Before that I was into spray painting or sketching, but never really painted and didn’t dip too much into horses. Expressing myself through art allowed me to overcome this obstacle in my life and was a way for me to cope. During my flare, it was also great exercise for my joints because I had days where it was a workout just holding a paintbrush. I painted horses to keep in touch with my true passion and remember exactly what I was fighting for: a life filled with horses.
How would you describe the style of your paintings? What is the story behind how that style developed?
I describe my style as emotional. My drippy style evolved from that deep, dark place I was in when first being diagnosed. It came from a place of sadness and yearning, but I also added something to the painting as a symbol of hope; whether that be in the eye, the strokes of the brush, or colors used, I never let go of hope. I disagreed with my doctors when they said competing and riding might not be in the new hand I was dealt, that it was too dangerous for my feeble bones and stiff joints. All I really wanted to do was just be able to brush my horse, but at that time, that was asking too much. I could, however, make brush strokes on a blank canvas of my horse!
What is your creative process? How do you get inspired?
I do not paint on a daily basis because I really have to “feel it.” This could mean going nearly a whole week without touching a brush, then one day I paint two paintings in one sitting. I paint rather sporadically. That’s why I usually tell people commissioning me to paint their horse that I need one to two weeks to paint it even if I can get it done in one day.
I usually paint within one day of going to the barn where I board my horses. Spending time with my horses is my idea of heaven. They are all so different from each other in personality and behavior, even down to the way they eat their apples and carrots. Going to the barn is my best inspiration!
What is your history with horses?
Since I was three years old and had the opportunity to grab the mane of one poor pony at Griffith Park, California, I have always been crazy these amazing, graceful, and powerful animals. I went to horse camp, took as many lessons as I could, started competing in equitation and hunters, and eventually jumpers. The reason I moved to Poland in 2012 was to pursue my riding career. I wanted to compete more and Poland seemed like a great way to improve both my riding skills and my Polish. I had wanted to become a horse trainer and buy young Polish Warmbloods to import and sell in the US. But that was before my life did a complete 180.
The thought of never riding again was one that I could not accept and I literally typed “how to train horses from a wheelchair” in Google and got my inspiration and determination back. I came across the world of natural horsemanship and found something more within my physical limits. I sold art and tutored when I could to save up to get my dream horse, a Shire. Yes, that’s very different than my previous Grand Prix goals! I brought my gorgeous bay Shire mare to Poland and she was just what I had been looking for: a young green horse that had never been backed. I wanted to be the one who showed her everything in the gentlest way possible. Feeling achy and stiff, it was quite the challenge getting to the barn and trying to work with her, but I believe she was just as happy to have me as I her. We had our ups and downs, days where I came home frustrated and thinking that I was silly to think I could train a giant four-year-old horse like her all on my own. But then there were days were I came to the point of tears because I was so happy with our progress. I was shocked at how quickly she learned and picked up on my cues. I’m sure that my Shire, Roxy, was, and is, my best medicine (along with my other horses!). I got up and went to the barn even when I felt like I couldn’t move from the pain. I pet her when I didn’t have the strength to brush her. I sat with her when I didn’t have the strength to lunge her or take her on a walk. All of my time just being and sitting around with her really gave us a chance to bond and become best friends.
Do you take commissions, and if so, please tell us about your commission process.
Yes, I do take commissions. If there’s a person who wants a commission done but can’t choose a picture, I ask that they send me all potential pictures. Sometimes there are one or two pictures that really spark something in me and my “art mood” switch turns on. I can work from one image but actually prefer a few photos to work from to get a feel of the horse. Sometimes, I even ask about the horse’s personality so I can keep that in mind when painting.