Equine Affair

Equestrian paintings by Julie Ferris reveal her lifelong love for horses and art

Few high school students know what their college major might be, but Julie Ferris always knew that she would major in art and become an equine artist. From her elementary school days spent coloring to the riding lessons she continued through high school, Ferris spent her time melding her passions. “I’ve always been an animal person, and horses and art were childhood interests that developed simultaneously,” she says. 

Ferris attended SCAD where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting with a minor in equestrian studies, and earned a spot on the college equestrian team. “Although SCAD gives a broad range of areas in which to focus, I never deviated from my pursuit of exploring the horse and incorporating it into my projects because you can never know too much about a subject,” says Ferris. Influenced by renowned artists that span centuries and genres, such as George Stubbs, Rosa Bonheur and Deborah Butterfield, Ferris studied their use of light, form, color and sculpture as she developed her own unique style of equestrian portraiture. 

Ferris’ pieces are large format, oil-on-canvas paintings and the majority of her work is commissioned. While most of her portraits depict horses owned by clients, Ferris also accepts commissions from people who don’t own a horse, but want to have an equine painting. In either instance, the process is the same as it involves meeting the client, the horse and reviewing photos to determine the exact details.

Ferris’ signature aesthetic is a white background with the horse positioned above a slightly reflective base. “The textured white backgrounds are symbolic of truth and light so that the subjects are portrayed energetically and reveal their beauty in a bright and simple way. I want the horses to feel alive on the canvas, as if they’re glistening in the sun telling us they are,” says Ferris. 

Whether her days are spent riding her own horse or painting in her studio, Ferris’ intertwined passions reveal an artist whose paintings exude sensitivity, eloquence and an innate understanding of her beloved subjects. 

See her work on Instagram, @julieferris_equine_artist, or on her website, julieferrisart.com.