Artists of Note | Karen McLain

Equine drama & beauty

Karen McLain, Nap in the Sand, oil, 9 x 12.

Karen McLain, Nap in the Sand, oil, 9 x 12.

This story was featured in the August 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

The power, drama, and beauty of the horse have captured Karen McLain’s imagination for as long as she can remember. Today McLain is fortunate to have neighbors’ horses near her home in Apache Junction, AZ. And she also feels fortunate to be able to take monthlong painting forays across the West to Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, where wild horses roam. McLain says her painting process always begins with an important first step—she sets up an easel on location. “The paintings are more life-
like and authentic than if I was just to paint from a photograph,” she says. “Painting wild horses from life is challenging, but I find that the vitality of living in the moment with these horses is such a freeing feeling.”

Back in her studio, McLain also uses videos as reference material, a visual aid that allows her to study, remember, and understand the way horses move through a landscape. The video also assists in ensuring that her drawings are accurate. Alongside this reference material, McLain draws on the many hours of time she has spent in the saddle, often on her own horse, Adobe. If she has a question about a horse’s anatomy, all she has to do is look out her studio window and gaze at her favorite four-legged model.

McLain is fond of employing a loose, expressive style in her works, coupled with energetic brushwork, which she hopes conveys an unbridled passion for her subject matter. —Bonnie Gangelhoff

McLain is represented by Equis Art Gallery, Red Hook, NY.

Featured in the August 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art August 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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