Now, she sees red horses constantly: at the Santa Anita Race Track, she spotted a horse gesture primed for red. No matter the origin, her practice follows the same process as that first sketch: she begins with the circle of the jaw—a flashback to childhood drawing lessons. Then she searches for the defining form, like the oblong shape of the shoulder, the pooling loops of a knee, or the unbroken arc of the back. The distinctive personality of each horse comes alive in her exploration of line; the movement of the brush from thick to thin, the interplay of negative space made by the marks. “It’s a different essence every time,” she says. “A different horse. These new horses are as rewarding as the first ones.”
By introducing a new species into All the Red Horses and a Hummingbird, Vhay found herself returning to the small scale in which she started working in red. Hummingbirds have been a feature for her this fall, alighting on the Fall Arts Festival in Jackson, Wyoming. Even before, the winged wonders have long appeared as casual harbingers of inspiration: whenever armed with a crayon and paper tablecloth at restaurants, she doodles horses and always adds a smudge above—“A little hummingbird,” she explains to friends.
Ever since they first appeared 10 years ago, her red horses have drawn together the community of people who have made her art possible. Working without references, from her instinct and memory, she lets the horses emerge as imprints of connection. The connection she expresses through the horses themselves transfers into the connection patrons feels for the paintings and the painter. An unbounded exchange of empowerment through art, reflecting the liberating presence the red horses have come to occupy within her painting practice: “As much as I enjoy the more methodical oil and watercolor painting, it is liberating to work in this realm of loose abstraction and color.”
All the Red Horses and a Hummingbird, our exhibition of September Vhay’s newest grouping within her red horses series, runs from December 3 to 15 at Altamira Fine Art in Scottsdale, with a reception held on December 13. For more information on the exhibit, please contact Altamira Fine Art by email (email@example.com) or phone (480-949-1256).