It seemed as if Jace McTier was destined to become a sport artist, having grown up in an environment conducive to creativity. His mother Lucy, is an accomplished artist in her own right, and Jace had the benefit of learning from someone in his own family.
“My mom has been dropping paint on the top of my head since I was a toddler,” said McTier, who had the opportunity to study and learn about the masters while being home-schooled.
Those early experiences provided McTier with a strong foundation and the discipline to pursue and shape his passion. He and his brother Ty would often find themselves outdoors using nature not only as an inspiration, but improvising by using different components endemic to their surrounding environment to help complete their paintings.
“We were to paint alla prima (wet-on-wet) on location at a pond, and we forgot to bring white paint,” said McTier, who grew up on a horse farm near Wrens, Ga. “My brother and I refused to paint without white to mix our colors. And, without hesitation, my mother proceeded to show us that we could render a scene without it, using the undertones of the board we were painting on to show through. She then painted most of the limbs of the tree with a twig.”
McTier and his mother were recently at the Aiken Training Track, and Lucy was capturing the image of Friscan and rider Mikki Fincher, as they interacted with the audience at Breakfast at the Gallops. The two artists returned to the track for the Aiken Trials to paint en plein aire.
“The horses had a lot of spirit,” said Jace, who was impressed with Fincher’s personality and the comments she made when addressing the crowd at Breakfast at the Gallops. “With our sporting art, what we try to do is capture the history of the event. There’s nothing better than that tree (Blue Peter’s Tree in the Aiken Training Track infield).”
Jace’s first commission was from James Wilson, the owner of the White Columns Inn in Thomson, Ga., who asked the then-teenager to paint a fox hunting scene which included four rider/horse combinations and nearly 15 couple (30 hounds), painted on a three-by-four-foot canvas. Most of Jace’s artwork has been commissioned pieces and he has been painting professionally since the age of 16. Jace has been inspired by several artists, and in addition to his mother, he has been influenced by William Turner, Vincent Van Gogh, and the sporting art of George Bellows and LeRoy Nieman.
“My first sporting paintings were commissioned by Mr. William Morris III, and I have depicted the Augusta Futurity 4-year-old Champions in oil since late in my teenage years,” said Jace.
But it’s Jace’s ability to depict the embodiment of prominent pugilists that has brought him to the attention of the boxing world. One of his admirers and advocates was the late International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Angelo Dundee.
The renowned trainer and cornerman opened a number of doors for the artist. Jace has painted the likenesses of former heavyweight champions Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, junior welterweight Irish Micky Ward, and the current World Boxing Council middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. It’s not uncommon for Jace to paint at ringside.
Jace’s altruistic side has found him selflessly giving of his time and energies to benefit charities. The artist painted a number of prominent golfers in oil on canvas, and through the Press On Fund in Augusta, the proceeds of the prints made from the paintings will go to benefit research to cure childhood cancer.
But it was the matriarch of the McTier family, who was working diligently in oil, with a palette knife in hand, creating the easily recognizable images of Bill and Scarlett Simpson’s Dunbarton Stable, LLC’s Friscan and rider Mikki Fincher. Lucy McTier has been painting professionally since 1979. It’s painting’s three dimensional aspect and unlimited range that has served as the impetus for the artist’s creativity and commitment to excellence. Lucy strives to improve her craft daily. The surfaces are enriched by sound technical training.
“Every painting I see, and every museum I visit broadens my sensibilities as a painter,” said Lucy, who majored in graphic design at the University of Georgia. “I continue to read and study about art.”
The artist’s works can be found in collections globally, as it was Lucy’s portrait of President Ronald Reagan on his white horse, that had previously been on display in the White House, but now hangs at the Ronald Reagan Library. Lucy painted the portrait in 1985.
There are a number of sources that have served as an inspiration, and have had a profound influence on the artist’s career including her own son, Jace, and the vivid hues that he incorporates into his sporting art. “When Jace began to paint at the age of 16, I encouraged him not to get too tight, but to let his brush work keep the energy of the subjects he paints,” said Lucy. “My early portraits were tightly rendered, but the palette knife is gaining ground as an exciting tool in my work.”
However, working with a palette knife isn’t an entirely new experience for the artist, as it was through years of experimentation that Lucy has refined her skills with the flexible steel blade. The artist recalls that it was her mother, although not an artist, but she was someone with great appreciation for the arts, that made the very astute observation 40 years ago that the masters used layers of paint and would scrape off the top layers to reveal hidden colors.
For more information, visit their website at mctierart.com.