A Full Member of Society of Equestrian Artists

I was delighted to be promoted to a Full Member of the Society of Equestrian Artists at their AGM last month
I am delighted to announce that I was recently promoted to a Full Member of the Society of Equestrian Artists (SEA) after presenting a portfolio of my work at the National Heritage centre for Horse Racing and Sporting Art in Newmarket, England on the weekend of the Society’s AGM. I have been a member of the SEA for about 9 years, joining as a friend initially before being promoted to an Associate in 2011. I believe I am the first Irish artist to be elected a Full Member.

I can remember the thrill of having my first paintings accepted at the Mall Galleries in London. I quickly discovered that sending watercolours (my medium of choice at the time) was not going to be possible after the glass broke in transit. This proved to be one of the turning points in my artistic career (I didn’t know that at the time) and I started painting in oils. I am fortunate that I have had work accepted for exhibition by the SEA every year. I didn’t realize in the early days of my membership that I was at the beginning of the road in terms of the quality and standard that is required for exhibitions. That reality became apparent when I received sponsorship for the Devon workshop, it was a real eye opener and an important learning curve especially with oils.

For every step forward I made with oil painting I went two steps back and many times it would have been very easy to give up and go back to watercolours. However as artists we all need goals and I am stubborn and I wanted to paint in oils and be good at it. Help was provided by my good friend and fellow artist Susan O’Regan. She had completed a degree at the Crawford College of Art with a sell out final year show. Her work is abstract and through her unique way of working she introduced me to methods and oil mediums that I may never have experimented with. We still share a studio space from time to time and are in the process of securing a permanent studio that we can both work from.

I became an Associate Member in 2011 and was very keen to be made a Full Member, this was a personal mission and by no means what the Society is all about. The SEA is for all who have an interest in equestrian art, you don’t have to be a professional artist and the workshops are a great way of meeting like minded people and learning new skills. With a recession still biting in Ireland and too much time on my hands I probably focused on my mission too much. Advice from a Full member when approached put me firmly in my place, whilst the advice was a little hard to take, it was constructive and helpful. Crucially it enabled me to move my work forward and work harder. After that, and because I became much busier professionally, I think it became less important to become a Full Member. However I had gained so much from being a member of the Society that this year I put my self forward with the result that I was promoted.

I am delighted to have been made a Full Member and hope at some stage to give something back to the Society by encouraging others to develop and enjoy creating their own work. Being a full time artist requires a huge amount of hard work and a thick skin. There are far easier ways to make a living, most artists need a second job or teaching to supplement their income. It is not all about entering competitions and winning awards either, although this can help increase your profile as long as you don’t take the inevitable rejections along the way too personally. Art is very much a personal journey, if I had any advice it is to paint for yourself initially, if you are not passionate about your subject your artwork will inevitably reflect this. I should mention that I still paint in watercolours. I love them, they are my medium of choice when I go out sketching but it is good to try something new.