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Profile On: Barbara Rush, Contemporary Equine Artist

Amazed by horses since the age of 12, Barbara Rush is a horse lover, artist and equestrian. Her latest series the Tao of Equus encases the “movements performed within the framework of dressage” showcasing “the elegance of the horse to its full advantage.” You can check out Barbara’s website and wonderful artwork at Barbara kindly took the time to answer some questions in relation to her profession with horses.

Have you always been interested in horses and when did you start out making them a part of your art?
I fell in love with horses when I was 12. My Mom was a Girl Scout leader and she sent me to the Girl Scouts mounted unit at Camp Matoaka. It was fabulous!

How much of your day/week is based around horses?
Never enough! Right now I am only riding once a week. But that takes up about half a day which includes driving out to the farm, grooming the horse, tacking him up, my lesson, and cleaning him up. J Jack’s favorite treats are carrots.

In this field is it possible for someone to be a full time professional, earning a livable income?
There has never been a better time on the planet than right now to be an artist! I have not “quit my day job” yet but that day is coming. As a self-published artist there are so many options available now. One of my favorites is Cafepress which allows you to upload images to be printed on t-shirts, mugs, hats, tote bags, and more. You can see mine on my website

If marketed properly this can be an excellent stream of income. Other people are selling artwork straight from their websites and blogs, and even on ebay. I plan to test all of these out in the near future.

What are the general steps taken to become a recognised artist?
Paint…or draw…or sculpt. Find your niche style. Show it to your friends. Build up your body of work. Enter art contests and festivals. Don’t be afraid to ask for art shows at restaurants or bookstores. Decide where you want to go with your art and then figure out what steps you need to take to get there. A great resource for me has been

Any advice for those interested in pursuing this profession?
Be strong and don’t give up. Be bold and stretch your comfort zone. Read books about a variety of artists. Find a positive, supportive group of people to hang out with ; )

Is there anything else with horses you’d love to learn about or try?
I would love to ride Freestyle Dressage and create my own dance with horses.

Favourite horse memory?
I really enjoyed leasing a horse named Cracker Jack at a riding academy when I was 14 or 15 years old. Spending almost everyday of the summer with each other we really developed a bond which allowed us both to trust the other more.

Future goals?
I’d love to own a horse farm with an art studio on it. Then I could paint and ride all day long!

Best thing about your sport/profession?
I love being a contemporary equine artist. It really allows me to be me. My blank canvas is mine alone. A place where I express myself in bold colors and dynamic geometric shapes. I love to explore the shape of the horse which to me is one of the most beautiful animals on the planet. How the horse’s muscles move as it changes gaits, the curvature of its neck, and the way in which it balances its body in each gait.

I also really enjoy connecting with my clients who own horses. Last year I met a woman at an art festival and she asked me to come out to her house to talk about a commission. She and her daughter owned a little Arabian that they enjoyed taking on endurance rides. I looked at her color palette and we talked about her likes and dislikes about horse paintings. She loved my light cubist style but wanted an arabian and she wanted it to be coming out of the side of the painting. So I went home and we talked further about the commission and then her horse had to be put down. Since the commission had not yet been started we cancelled it. I knew she couldn’t bare to think about her horse at this time so I didn’t bother her.

I was so inspired with the situation that I painted “the Spirit of Equus” in memory of her horse. The light rays moving from the upper left to the horse are meant to suggest that the horse is in spirit. The horse is based on the structure of an Arabian and runs to greet the viewer from the right side of the canvas. It is painted in the colors that she wanted…purples and mustard tones.

The story has a happy ending in that she came to the festival this year (April 08), saw the painting, and decided to take it and The Passion of Equus home with her. She emailed me the next day to say how much she loved the paintings and how perfect they were for her home. That made me very happy that the person the painting was created for now has it in her home as a constant reminder of the wonderful times she and her daughter had with their horse.

“This most noble beast is the most beautiful, the swiftest and of the highest courage of domesticated animals. His long mane and tail adorn and beautify him. He is of a fiery temperament, but good tempered, obedient, docile and well-mannered.” – Pedro Garcia Conde

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