Painting “The Horse Behind The Legend”

At the end of December I was asked to be the commissioned artist for the signature piece to the 8th Annual Unbridled Affair Gala. This gala takes place in the historic racing town of Saratoga Springs NY.  As if being asked to paint this piece wasn’t exciting enough, I was then told I would be painting Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah! I was over the Moon! I took to the internet in search of the best image and fell in love as soon as I saw it. It was a beautiful photo taken by photographer Meg McMahon. She was kind enough to give me permission to paint it and I just couldn’t wait to get started!  It took me over 140 hours to paint this… I couldn’t believe the amount of detail I was able to achieve by painting such a close up on such a big canvas. It was always my dream to try! This canvas was 36×36.

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In my opinion it’s not important WHAT a piece of art makes you think, but THAT it makes you think. In my case and what I hope is yours as well, its virtually impossible to look a this paintning and NOT think about The Horse behind the legend. What IS American Pharoah thinking? Does he know he just won the race? Does he know he just made history? Or is this like any given race? Who does he run FOR? His trainer? His Jockey? Himself? Or is it to show up the cocky horse in the stable next to him? What DRIVES American Pharoah?

If I was asked to make a painting of Jeff Gordon for example. I wouldn’t paint the cars racing down the track… That’s TEAM Gordon… that’s the pit crew, that’s the mechanic, that’s the tires, the brakes the chevy or ford or whatever it is… it is the driver as well.. that’s a huge part of it… but that’s not all it is.

Same goes with the horse running to victory on the track. That’s TEAM American Pharoah. That’s the trainer, that’s the jockey, that’s the breeder, the veterinarian, the stable hands AND the horse.

But I wanted to get to the heart of the HORSE.  Afterall, this team has raced many other horses and there are other impressive teams racing other impressive horses, but that’s not all it takes… otherwise we would have triple crown winners every year, or heck … at LEAST every 5 or 10!

But there is something much more that makes a champion like American pharaoh. And its not out there on the track. Its right here, its in this horse. You can see it behind his eyes. Its in his soul and a part of his character, its his passion. THAT is what I wanted to showcase. A champion at the root of what makes him great. Not his muscles, not his long powerful legs, his determination. His drive. His heart. THAT is the true power of a champion. That is American Pharoah.

13754550_10153736048931074_7863461416333336766_n Here is the slide show that was shown at the Gala before the painting was unveiled. It shows the progression of the painting.


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