By Shya Beth
Anthony Robinson is one of the modern-day master painters, and his love of animals has drawn him into a life where he’s surrounded by them in all shapes and forms. Powerful and freeing brush strokes set his work apart in the ever-expanding world of equine art, and his masterful knowledge of both art and horses creates the perfect landscape for him to display his creative skill.
Having lived most of his life in and around Cleveland, Ohio, Anthony’s interest in art stemmed early. “I started making art as a young kid mainly by the influence of my father, who was doing art at that time,” Anthony said. “I would draw things from magazines and then eventually drew subjects from life. Animals, of course, were my favorite subjects, especially horses, lions and dogs.”
Although Anthony’s love is dedicated to the horse, he’s developed a broad range of subjects and portraiture. “As an artist, I’ve been invigorated by animals for quite a long time. And horses in particular have charged my creative wellspring to a gallop with their timeless beauty of line, energy and movement.”
Despite the fact that Anthony didn’t have the opportunity to spend time in the stables as a child, his affection for the horse only grew. As a young painter, his equine knowledge increased, as did the time he spent in the stables. “I’ve spent an extended amount of time over the years visiting stables, horse shows, chatting it up with knowledgeable horse people and just spending lots of time around these glorious creatures.”
It’s obvious through his paintings that the time spent in the presence of the horse has had a monumental effect on Anthony and his portrayal of horses and their personalities.
Featuring the large draft-type horses in some of his best paintings, Anthony admits he’s drawn to those breeds. “The big draft horses are some of my favorites —stemming all the way back to kidhood when we walked through stables at the county fair,” he said. “Such gentle and gargantuan backends they had! And when we came across their front ends, they were gentle, too — and with very soft noses.”
One special time, Anthony experienced the front end of a horse unexpectedly. He’d been taking photographs of horses in the shed row of a barn, and the space was relatively narrow. As he backed up to get a fuller shot of the horses in the stalls, he was greeted with a startling rush of hot air at the nape of his neck. “I turned around to meet the furry nose of a Clydesdale yearling in the opposite stall with a sniffing curiosity,” he said. “A marvelously interesting being! And a pair of woeful eyes that melted my heart. I then snapped my picture of the day.”
As far as formal art training goes, Anthony had some of the best: The famous master painters of times gone by have been a constant source of knowledge. “I consider myself master-taught as opposed to self-taught — because I’ve spent a host of my past years getting the nitty-gritty of art from the big guys in the art history books,” Anthony said. “My biggest painting influences were John Singer Sargent and the great Diego Velazquez. Velazquez was Sargent’s greatest influence, and they emphasized the importance of value structure and sound drawing.”
Anthony did spend a few years getting an art foundation at The Cleveland Institute of Art from 1986 to 1988, and a short time at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1989. “There are miles of additional painters with bits and pieces of knowledge that shaped my art,” he said. “The way I read life is also a key component to my approach to painting. Life is energy — and I translate that energy through strokes of paint that are fluctuant, spontaneous and revealing.”
While painting everything from horses and dogs to human portraits, still lifes and landscapes, horses have continued to call to him. What finally set him on the equine path was a series of commissions from a friend who worked at an equine therapeutic riding center. “That was the main impetus that caused me to focus primarily on horses,” Anthony said. “And because horses have always been a lifelong love of mine, coupled with my increasing artistic need at that time to zero in on a specific genre for comprehensive achievement, everything sort of fell into line. We’ve trotted forward ever since then.”
Anthony’s exploration of the equine world is far from over. With such a drastic turn of events with the COVID pandemic and so many cancellations, Anthony plans to come out in full force in the upcoming year. For now, though, Anthony is enjoying time in his studio. “I’m glad that I’ve finally managed to focus on and settle down in the genre of equine art — after years of circular motion with subject matter,” Anthony said. “I sowed my artistic wild oats up till then — now I’m able to entertain myself and the world with that lifelong wonderment and fascination with the horse.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/anthonyseasel.
Art Of The Horse is the world’s first equine art platform, established in 2014 by Shya Beth. With weekly articles featuring up-and-coming as well as world-renowned artists, exhibitions and art news, Art Of The Horse is the premier source for all things equine art. Visit artofthehorse.net