WRENS, Ga. — Artist Lucy McTier wanted to create an image that would demonstrate the palpitating vitality of horses.
And in doing so, her portrait, taken from a photograph provided by Larry Gleason, captures the perfectly articulated figures of horses in a presentation that's unquestionably creative, and it's that descriptive narrative that's being used for the poster of the 48th renewal of the Aiken Spring Steeplechase.
“I wanted to be able to convey the beauty of the ride and the power of it, so the audience could relate to the entire experience,” said McTier.
The observer actually feels as if they're in the race as the lines in the painting communicate movement, creating a living organism, as one uses their senses for a palpable experience while looking at the expressive detail of the horses propelling themselves over the national fences. The horses' strong, supple bodies moving forward, the intense concentration of the jockeys, the impact of the hooves on the turf, the explosion of grass and dirt as it rises from the ground under the weight of the horses, have been captured by McTier's incomparable draftsmanship.
However, it's the surrounding environment that's also conveyed in the painting – the tents, trees, people, wings and flags – that also provide the viewer with a remarkable sense of actually being at the event.
“There's so much detail involved,” said McTier. “The painting is acrylic, so it's something that I really had fun with. I left the background a little impressionistic, so the viewer would really get the feeling of the movement of the piece.”
The McTiers took a number of photos, but weren't happy with any of their photographs, said the artist.
“Larry Gleason has been awesome,” said McTier. “He's been so helpful. I was given several options, but chose one of Larry's. He gave me permission to use it. The photo itself was something that really captured the spirit of Aiken and the Aiken Spring Steeplechase.”
Another portrait by McTier, titled “Heart of a Champion,” was unveiled last Sunday at the ceremony honoring Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice as the 2013 Aiken Trained Horse of the Year.
The image for the portrait was taken from a photo by Larry Gleason. The painting itself features Palace Malice, wearing his Belmont Stakes saddle cloth, with Gene Tucker up, galloping on the Aiken Training Track, with Blue Peter's Tree figuring prominently in the background.
“There was a lot of fine detail involved, putting the oil paint on the canvas and wanting to convey the power of the horse's leg motion,” said McTier. “This horse is such a precious gentleman.”
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004. Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry. Baugh is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, worked for North America's leading Thoroughbred breeder Adena Springs in Ocala, Fla. And interned at Thoroughbred Racing Communications in New York, N.Y.