By Shya Beth
Marie Gray’s paintings draw you in and bring you into a world all her own. A horse enthusiast all her life, Marie combines the use of bright colors with simple backgrounds to capture a moment in time, accentuating her subject’s mood and personality.
Marie began her full-time art career in 2013, after moving within her home state of Texas to Dallas when her husband retired from the Air Force, but she’s never ceased developing her art. “It was a blessing,” she said. “Being able to meet and share with other artists is a great way to grow and improve not just your own art, but others’.”
Pursuing the mastery of mediums such as watercolor, oils and acrylics, Marie continues to advance by incorporating pastels, charcoal and graphite into her skillset, becoming well known for both equestrian and portrait paintings.
“Through my art, I express my love of and joy in color and emotion to evoke a connection for the viewer with my equine subject. My pieces capture the horse’s spirit, evoking their inner story by directing the viewer’s eyes through the use of color enhancements and implied background,” Marie said. “My goal is not to tell the whole story, but to leave a little intrigue, mystery, so the viewer becomes part of that art story by interjecting their own experiences to decide what they see.”
Pursuing Her Passion
Living the majority of her life in Texas, Marie has always been captivated by art, no matter the medium or style. “When I was younger, I was drawn to artwork other students around me created,” she said. “It inspired me and pushed me to realize that I also wanted to create and learn the rich history of art.”
Marie’s faith has also played a part in shaping her into the artist she is today. “I believe my artwork and the subjects I use are influenced by my faith and how I was raised,” Marie said. “I grew up in a large Mennonite family as one of eight kids, and school or an advanced degree was not really something any of us did, let alone art! Despite this, my mom was very supportive and always encouraged me to follow my passion, wherever it led me.”
Marie pursued her degree through multiple universities in the early 2000s, collecting a wealth of knowledge from different worlds of thought and experiences, ending with completing her BFA through Midwestern State University with a focus in painting and secondary in ceramics.
Growing up, Marie’s grandparents had horses in the traditional sense — working horses on a farm. Coupling that along with her cousin’s “gentle giant” draft horse named Sandy, Marie’s love of the horse only grew. “We could ride him or hitch him up to an old wagon and go for a ride!” Marie said with a smile. “Other times we would take vacations to southern Colorado or east Texas for camping or hiking trips, and my favorite parts were meeting new horses and going for trail riding adventures.”
Studying and mastering art has been a lifelong journey, and Marie has always been drawn to the beautiful sketches of the old masters in the Renaissance and the impressionist era for all the great artists that came out of that time, such as Gustave Caillebotte, William Turner and John William Godward.
Painting Her World
In her own work, Marie really enjoys creating larger paintings. “I typically paint large pieces from 20 by 24 inches to 4 by 5 feet, but most shows or people don’t have space for larger pieces so I have been staying in the 20- to 40-inch range. I do love the impact large, bright pieces have, though.”
Marie’s favorite horses to draw and paint are the high-spirited Arabians, though all horses are beloved by her. “I’ve always liked the big Thoroughbreds because I love the tall, long-legged horses, and I’m a fan as well of the breeds like the Andalusians, Oldenburg, Lusitano and wild mustangs, which are lovely to paint.”
For Marie, having a horse of her own in the future would be a dream come true. For now, she enjoys going, pre-COVID-19, to local horse shows. “I always love to see all the beautiful horses and different disciplines,” she said. “I had the opportunity to ride one of the show horses one time and it amazed me how highly trained they are — they seem to read your mind with the smallest movement!”
Marie and her husband have just recently moved into their new home in Waxahachie, Texas, and Marie is looking forward to creating her new art space and getting back to working on her original paintings and commissions, as well as her own series of workshops. “I plan to get a couple of local equine workshops set up for this year, but I’m still working out the dates and issues, if the pandemic will allow for me to do them.”
Catching the eye of several art groups and art centers, Marie has been asked to share her expertise in equine painting. “I started doing workshops because I love sharing what I do and believe artists all have their own unique way of doing things, and at the same time can help each other out when needing constructive criticism or guidance.”
Currently working on a few small commissions, Marie has a large event she’s looking forward to — perhaps because it’s right up her alley. “I have one big show coming up next summer I’m currently working toward with an equine artist friend of mine, Suzanne Moseley, at the Dutch Art Gallery featuring ‘The Horse.’ I’m really excited about this one!”
For more information, visit facebook.com/MarieGraysFineArt or instagram @marie_grays_fine_art .
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 artofthehorsegallery.net .