I found another unicorn artist! Sometimes art just catches your eye…and other times…it’s not just the art but the mode of display that is really something fresh and special. Introducing Katie of HERS Equine! She’s been my favorite Instagram stalk for the last several months and I thought it was about time we featured her!
Is creating art your day job? If not, what else do you do?
My first thought was “I wish!” but really, I think I wish it was a part-time day job. By day I am a pediatric occupational therapist, which is a job that I absolutely love and find great purpose in. While at this job I am high-energy, critical thinking, constantly adjusting myself to match whatever child I am with, applying neurology, anatomy, physiology within the context of developmental progression, handling kid’s behaviors and emotions, giving a critical eye to how a child moves or acts, talking to parents…umm, can I just stop here?! I love love love this job and find great purpose in it, but my true self is an introvert and I need my art to come home to. With my art I can just “be” and the painting flows. It is restorative and really helps me wind down and prepare to go back out and see my kids the next day.
What is your story? How did you become an artist? How long have you been a professional artist?
Oh my….Do you have a minute? It’s been a winding road my friend. I grew up riding horses and started my own training business in high school. After riding and showing through high school, I went to Texas A&M University, rode for their Equestrian Team, and majored in Animal Science. While there I was also able to work as an assistant trainer to Sharon Wellmann who is still a friend and mentor and helped me so much as a young professional woman in the industry. After graduating I continued to train professionally and as I was doing this I met my future husband, who just happened to be a Navy pilot. Talk to any military family and you will find that home is an ever-changing dynamic. Talk to any military spouse and you will find that a career is also an ever-changing dynamic. We got married and within a few months moved to Guam. Tiny island. No horses.
Wait there is more! Justin deployed to Iraq within weeks of our move. So there I was, newly married, husband in a war zone for 9 months, a half a world away from family and friends, no horses. I started drawing horses. It connected me to my roots and reminded me who I was. It also kept me sane (along with my Great Dane June, my soul mate with 4 legs who moved with me). Fast forward a bit (I did warn you it was a long story right!?!) I was able to earn my Masters degree in Occupational Therapy and began to work with kids and families. Through all of this we continue to move frequently and maintaining a career in the equine industry as a trainer is just not possible for me at this time. My art is really special to me because for now, these are my horses. I put a lot of work into each horse’s expression because I get so connected to each piece.
How did you end up deciding to paint on garments? Do you do traditional art as well?
My older sister is an incredible person and works for Inspiration Ranch in Texas where they provide equine-based therapy services. It is a non-profit and every year they have a fundraising gala. Years ago I had found an old photo in horse magazine of a woman handing our prizes at a horse show and she was wearing this retro skirt with a painted horse on it. I called my sister and told her I was painting her a skirt to wear. She knows me, so she just said “Okay!” (credit to her – she is partner in crime for countless wild ideas). After I painted one I just kept painting more. Art can be a brain worm. Sometimes you get this idea and it just stays with you until you make it happen. Well, here I am…
How do you get inspired? Do you pick the horse to work with the garment? Or the garment to work with the horse?
Yes and yes! Sometimes I find a garment and by the shape and flow of it I have an idea for a painting. Sometimes I see a horse image and I have to find just the right garment for it. And then sometimes people will send me their own photos and/or garments for custom items – when this happens I have to be extra creative to create something that works for both.
What is your favorite part of being an artist? Any part you don’t enjoy quite as much?
I am an introvert, so being alone with my art restores my soul. I love to paint. I am also in a place in my life where I am not about to be around horses as much as I would like. Painting connects me back to this part of me. What do I not enjoy? Well, at this point I am a one-woman-show. I love the process of creating the art, but the photography, modeling, and marketing is definitely not me.
How can our readers purchase your artwork? Do you do commissions?
Visit my website! Also, I regularly post new and ongoing projects on my Instagram. I absolutely do commissions and each process is a little different. I think it typically works best if the client sends me a clothing items that they love and knows fits well, though I can search for garments for clients as needed. As far as painting specific horses – I do! For this I typically request multiple photos of the horse as well as a brief description of their personality (because as I mentioned previously, capturing the expression is paramount to a good piece of equestrian art!)