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Karen's Horse Paintings Blog - November 2008



palomino horse painting oil painting

Posted November 26, 2008

Gabriel is a dreamy palomino whose feathery mane and tail seemed to surround him like a glowing aurora, a pure white shining sunlit cloud, billowing around him -- defying gravity as it flowingly enhances his every move.

His opalescent golden body sparkled in the sunlight, as he pranced, then galloped around his pasture.

What an angelic horse!

Charlee, his owner thinks so too. Here's what she wrote about her Tennessee Walking Horse gelding, "Stunning gold champagne boy with long shoulder length mane and thick tail reaching past the ground, long forelock to his nose, pure white. His golden body gleams in the sunlight. He is perfection, my 'angel' hence his name Gabriel. A true Barbie Doll, dream horse."

Gabriel is actually not a palomino, but a champagne horse, carrying a unique gene that gives his coat an amazing metallic sheen. You can learn more about champagne horses at the International Champagne Horse Registry. The site includes photos of stallions from many breeds with this gene.

In Gabriel's painting I've purposely used very thin washes of translucent oil paint to create a dreamy atmosphere. The dark blue background represents the heavens and the undefined footing a floating cloud on which Gabriel lightly treads. It's only fitting for this angelic beauty.

posted by Karen Brenner

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A Time to be Thankful
Posted November 24, 2008

It’s less than a week until Thanksgiving, and even though our nation and many of us as individuals are going through some tough times, we have much to be thankful for. I was just thinking about how fortunate I am, and I wanted to do something to give back. For a long time I’ve wanted to combine my paintings with some of my favorite scripture verses. Well, Thanksgiving seemed to be the perfect time to launch this new project. I’m calling this whole project my “Thanksgiving Series” and plan to donate the profit from the “Thanksgiving Series” shops to the food pantry at my church to help those less fortunate.

The first Thanksgiving Series Café Press Shop features my newest painting, Santiago Sunrise, paired with a verse that I thought of often while working on the picture. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).

This beautiful Andalusian stallion is famous in the Baroque horse world.  He has his own fan club and photo contest! No wonder — he’s awsome! I met him at the Fiesta Midwest and was lucky enough to photograph him backlit against an early morning sunrise. I loved that he closed his eyes, seemingly soaking up the sunshine as the breeze gently blew through his wonderful long thick mane.

Click here to learn about the Santiago Sunrise Cafe Press Shop.

Here is a picture of the painting.

[Reprinted in part from my November 2008 Newsletter.]

posted by Karen Brenner

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Graceful Eagle
Posted November 20, 2008

Sandra's nomination for Graceful Eagle for the Beautiful Horses of Michigan was so wonderfully written, I'd like to share it with you:

"Eagle is one of the most beautiful horses in Michigan! His beauty comes from within and it animates him at play in the herd or under saddle. I don't have to ask him to set his head or carry himself properly, he just does what comes naturally with a sense of nobility and adventure. As the herd boss he carries himself with dignity and energy as if no other horse is as top notch as he!

"I couldn't be help but be attracted to him when I was looking for a horse because he is colorful, with hints of blue, black, and gray on white. He has a beautiful head and wonderful confirmation. But it was his fun loving temperament that won me over. Eagle lives to play and is confident. In Parelli terms, he's a Left Brain Extravert, characterized by words like playful, smart, exuberant and charismatic.

"We have a wonderful partnership based on respect and I am challenged by him as he is easily bored. My favorite times with him are when we are running through the woods, I often feel like I am flying on the wings of an eagle. Then we come to the top of a hill and he punctuates the uphill climb with a twist or jump that makes me laugh.

"I believe that Eagle's beauty exemplifies the strength, respect and nobility of the wonderful horse."

Graceful Eagle, who is a Tennessee Walking Horse, shares his home with Kenya, whose painting features her wading in the river that meanders through their pasture. I was originally going to do a water painting of Graceful Eagle also, but everyone loved this action shot so much I changed my mind. It will always remind me of the giant dust storm that blew through while I was taking photos of Graceful Eagle which made the photo shoot extra exciting. Think Hidago!

posted by Karen Brenner

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18 Tips for Taking Great Horse Photos
Posted November 19, 2008

Even though I love to take photos of horses for my paintings and meet each horse personally, I just completed a commission based on a photo supplied by the horse's owner. Seems, I don't have to be the one who snaps the photos I use for reference material for a painting to come out well! Boy that makes me feel sad, but happy too!

I've changed the wording on my Commissions web page.... If a horse owner would like a commission done from a photo that they send me of their horse, I'm ready!

Of course, because of copyright laws, I will need written permission from the person who took the photo(s) -- whether it is the horse owner or another photographer -- to use the pictures for a painting. Professional photographers may not agree -- or may charge the horse owner a fee to use their photos . . . so . . . .

I decided to share some of my favorite tips for getting great photos of horses. No, a simple "Top 10" list wouldn't work for me! Especially since I decided to illustrate the tips with some of my favorite photographs -- and I have literally thousands to choose from.... I've come up with 18 Tips. Yep! 18.

If you'd like to read the tips and see some of my photographs, the official link to the 18 Tips is located on my Commissions page. (Sure I could have put it in the blog, but I want you to take a look at the new information on the Commissions page AND read the tips!)

One tip I didn't put on the list -- maybe because I didn't have a good photo to go with it -- was to get a digital camera. That sounds bossy, but it really is good advice. When taking photos of horses, often you have to take 100 shots to get 4 or 5 really good ones.The cost of film and developing can be expensive. With a digital camera, you can take endless photos. And you never have to print the ugly ones!

If you'd like to share your favorite tip for photographing horses, I'd love to hear it!

posted by Karen Brenner

1 Comment -- Click here to add your comment

I totally agree on the digital camera!! They are so inexpensive now a days that there is really no excuse.. I think they even have disposable ones!! For getting good shots, you can't beat the versitility, ease and unlimited amount of pictures, from a digi camera!! Really good tip..and now I'm going to go see the rest! Nice peek preview of Gabriel on your newest video : ) love it!!... Can't wait to see it up on the site! - Charlee

Horse Brasses
Posted November 17, 2008

I'm always excited when I learn something new. Sometimes I feel like life is a big advent calendar, and every once in a while you open a new little flap and step through -- into a whole new world you didn't know existed. That is exactly how I felt when I stopped at Wendy Richardson's booth at the Indian Hill Church Art Show and saw a purse adorned with a big brass decoration with a horse in the design. Then I noticed lots of similar brass objects attached to belts. Then I saw Wendy was skillfully adding a macrame band to yet another brass object to create a one-of-a-kind necklace. Her booth was filled with necklaces. And each brass object was unique and looked antique.

Most amazing of all -- at least for me -- is that I realized I had one of these brass objects at home! It had been a Christmas gift a few years back from one of my sons! I'd guessed it was a decoration for a bridle. Little did I know that it was a Horse Brass. An object with a marvelous history. I had no clue that The National Horse Brass Society existed in the UK for collectors.


Wendy gave me a half-page flier with a short history of Horse Brasses, and I learned that people have been decorating their horses with brasses for over 2,000 years -- a Siberian Chief's grave site was dated back to that time. The chief had been buried with seven of his horses whose harnesses were decorated with brass ornaments.

Romans had brass harness amulets in the 6th century A.D.

Many patterns seem to reflect Gypsy designs - sun, moon, stars, crescents and hearts.

In England cast horse brasses were very popular between 1860 and 1890.

The brass ornament I have clearly says "ENGLAND" across the top bar in the back -- probably etched in the molten brass by its creator. I can't help but wonder who the horses were that proudly wore this brass decoration over the past 150 years. The ornament seems so smooth along the edges, like it has been held by many people throughout its history. Here is a picture of my horse brass:

horse brasses

Here are some pictures of Wendy's work. She has many, many designs with horses, foxes, and lots more!

And here is the contact information for Wendy Richardson:
Phone: 513-523-2617.

posted by Karen Brenner

1 Comment -- Click here to add your comment

Really think of Kenya is so beautiful while in the water and couldn't believe of the horse brass.
Thank you again - enjoyed seeing the horses. - Thelma


Indian Hill Church Art Show
Posted November 16, 2008

I was very honored to have a space at the 7th annual Indian Hill Church Art Show which was held at the Indian Hill Episcopal Presbyterian Church last Friday night and Saturday. I was amazed by the wonderful quality of artwork on display! And it was a treat to get to talk with some members of the Camargo Hunt, which was featured in the paintings I displayed in my space. Here are some photos from Saturday. (It was way too crowded with art patrons and volunteers serving wine and hors d'ourves on Friday night to pull out my camera to snap pictures!)




One of the best perks of participating in art shows is chatting with artists! I was so lucky to be sandwiched between two wonderful artists! On my right was Barry Ross a wonderful photographer. He had a great variety of shots, but I was fascinated by his Yellowstone abstracts and his Italy shots -- especially since he'd visited some of the same spots that my mom, sister and niece had seen on their trip to Italy. Here is a link to his website: Barry Ross

M. Katherine Hurley (Kay) with her beautiful atmospheric landscapes was my neighbor to the left. Her soft style with fantastic colors was inspirational! Take a moment to look at the paintings on her website: M. Katherine Hurley

The art show featured 100 artists and it certainly was filled with eye candy for art lovers! Be sure to put it on your calendar and plan to attend next if you can!

NOTE: A blog reader recently asked if my husband was a teacher at Triway Junior High. He is. He often helps me with my art booth and travels with me on my "Beautiful Horses of ..." trips. Here he is at the Indian Hill Church art show hoping someone asks him if he painted the horse paintings....

posted by Karen Brenner

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Horse painting - wading in the stream

Posted November 13, 2008

When I arrived at the farm where Kenya lives, a strong storm was brewing. Bad news since this was Graceful Eagle's home too. I hoped the weather would not ruin two photo shoots in one. Luckily the storm passed, allowing us take lots and lots of photos in the arena.

Then Elizabeth, Kenya's owner, and Sandra, Graceful Eagle's owner (also the owner of the farm), asked if I'd like to take some photos in the backyard. I knew I had some great photos from the arena, but said, sure, why not?

Well, let me tell you, this was the most beautiful backyard I have ever seen. As you come around the side of the house (beautifully planted with perennials) the land dips down gently through a pasture. At the bottom of the slope giant, GIANT shade trees peacefully stand guard over a wide, WIDE peaceful river. On the far side of the river, wild marsh grasses abound. It is beautiful!

We took some photos under the trees, and then Elizabeth offered to wade the horses into the river! Am I the luckiest equine artist, or what??? I got more great pictures of Kenya and Graceful Eagle -- these with them wading in the lazy river. How exciting!

Kenya's painting is a study of contrast between the reflections of light on the water and Kenya's wonderful dark tones. Elizabeth's nomination for her dark bay Morgan mare stated, "Her coat is chocolate colored, fading to black socks. Her face is the same dark chocolate color, with a light brown muzzle that contrasts with black nostrils. ..She also has golden-burgundy highlights on the top layer of her forelock, mane and tail." What a wonderful description!

I'd barely completed Kenya's painting when I decided to make a YouTube video featuring my paintings. Researching music on the internet, I came across Rick Clarke's "Better Luck Tomorrow" with its wonderful mix of strings and the sounds of nature. Sprinkled through the arrangement were sections with a flowing stream in the background. I knew that Kenya's painting would play an important role in my video. If you'd like to see the video -- with over 40 paintings, here's a link: Horse Paintings by Karen Brenner on YouTube

Kenya's painting is part of my "Beautiful Horses of Michigan" series. Click here to see all the paintings completed in the series so far.

posted by Karen Brenner

3 Comments -- Click here to add your comment

The horse on top, looks so Cool and amazing to see it in the water. Really like it, too.
Thank you, - Thelma

is your husband a teacher at triway junior high school - Lisa
Karen: Yes, my husband is the "Mr. Brenner" of Triway Junior High! :-)

All your paintings are fantastic....this one is my favorite!. As a fellow artist,(and Ohioan), I love the way the water gives this piece movement, and the graceful pose the horse is in...............wishing you continued success and happiness..................Bill

My Latest YouTube Video
Posted November 7, 2008

My new YouTube video features the music of Rick Clarke (thanks Rick for creating music that we can use for free on YouTube!) and over 40 of my paintings. Watch it and tell me what you think!

You can watch it on YouTube too!


posted by Karen Brenner

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Lipizzan horse painting

Conversano Marina
Posted November 5, 2008

Tracy wrote that she had a Lipizzan stallion, Converano Marina, that would be perfect to include in the Beautiful Horses of Michigan project. She said:

"'The little stallion' (as I have come to call him) has been wonderful to train and I am looking forward to our future together. He is teaching me to give my heart to my horses again after losing my FEI Dressage horse last year."

When I met Conversano Marina, I was mesmerized by the lovely pastel pink, orange, blue and lavender colors that formed intricate patterns on his beautiful face. Oh, I could hardly wait to start painting! Tracy said as Conversano Marina matured the colors would become even more defined! Wow, that's hard to image!

This painting was finished at least three times. What does that mean, you might ask. Well, when I complete a painting I move it from the studio to our family room where I can look at casually for a few days -- just to be sure I'm satisfied with it. Well at first I liked the painting. I even photographed it to post online. But then .... no.... Back it went to the studio for more work. I could clearly remember the feeling I had when I looked at Conversano Marina, and the painting was just not right. I had to capture those amazing colors.

After more painting -- and again photographing the piece -- Nope -- I still wasn't happy.

After another trip back to my studio and some intensive work, finally I felt that I'd captured the beautiful hues that impressed me so! Of course, a tiny photo online is never as good as the real thing. You really need to see the painting - or the horse :-) in person to appreciate these colors!

While talking with Tracy, I discovered that her father, James P. Rowe, was very much responsible for introducing Dressage to the northern half of the United States. He taught haute ecole or "Airs above the ground" and trained some great riders, including Tracy! Here's a link, so you can read more about the stable's fascinating history: Rowe Stables History

Conversano Marina's painting is part of my "Beautiful Horses of Michigan" series. Click here to see all the paintings completed in the series so far.

posted by Karen Brenner

1 Comment -- Click here to add your comment

What a small horse world! I wanted to see if you had painted my horse yet (Baskeeter) only to see that you included one of my client's horses in the book (Tracy Rowe's Con-Mar) I smiled and thought how small of a world we live in! Can't wait to see Baskeeter's painting! - Lisa

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About Karen

Karen Brenner is passionate
about horses and art!
She enjoys traveling to horse farms
and equine events to
photograph horses
for reference material
for her horse paintings.

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Meet Equine Artist
Karen Brenner

Horse Paintings Choreographed

Andalusian horse profile
Sorpresa and
Her Dressage Moves



October 2008

The last half of
September 2008

More Michigan Horses
Amish Photos
Horse Crafts!

August- mid-September 2008
First Beautiful Horses of MI
All Horse Parade Photos
Steeplechase Paintings
Camargo Hunt Paintings

June & July 2008
Michigan Trip
Sorpresa's on YouTube

May 2008
YouTube Video - Karen's equine apprentice, DJ

April 2008
Rolex Cross Country
House of the Friesians
Amish Country Photo Safari

March 2008
A Book!
Aiken Spring Steeplechas


Behind the Bit


Equus Caballus

Experiments in
Training Equines


The Horsehoeing Housewife

Manes n Tails

Midwest Horse Blog


Nuzzling Muzzles

Stable Scoop Radio Show

Teachings of the Horse





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