Artist, Brooke Major Art Studios
How long have you been part of the horse world?
I have loved horses since the age of 3 and have had the bug ever since. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and my grandfather had trail-riding horses and I loved to go and visit the stables behind his property on the holidays. My parents and siblings were never interested in either of my passions, allowing me to have exclusivity to all of the art supplies as well as all of the horses.
How did you get started with your art career?
I started painting at the same age as I started riding and decided to be an artist and breed horses as a life career at the age of 7. I took private art lessons all throughout my childhood and focused my work on drawing and painting. After participating in honors art classes in high school, I moved to Paris and audited art classes at the Beaux Arts de Paris while attending Schiller International University, an American university for the study of international relations and diplomacy. After graduating from university, I interned at the United States Embassy in Paris until I discovered Normandy, fell in love and moved close to the D-Day beaches to live out my dream of breeding horses and painting as a full-time professional artist. I started my art career by continuing to develop a large body of work, most of which I had made during university. I used abandoned churches as exhibition venues when starting out. I was soon asked to exhibit in art galleries in numerous French cities. I then traveled back to the United States to promote my work there and I exhibited my first major works in a gallery in Atlanta.
Every artist has their passions and niches, which is what creates the soul of a work. Since I have always loved horses, I’ve spent years studying the anatomy and movement of the animal. I knew deep down that I had to breed them to fully understand the horse from A to Z. While I had been accustomed to breeding operations of Selle Francais horses, I started a serious breeding operation of my own in 2008. This allowed me to observe every movement at various ages and stages in a horse’s life. It’s essential for artists to know their subject by heart in order to paint from the heart. This always makes the difference between a work of art and artwork.
How would you describe your art?
I am a mixture of a sculptor and a painter. My technique consists of mixing titanium white oil paint in very thick layers in order to create a strong relief, playing with shadow and light. I started doing this technique by first applying thick layers of oil paint on the canvas and sketching in the images. This technique later led to applying a thin coat of paint on the surface and then applying a thick empasto layer of paint sculpted on top. The more paint applied, the more an image stands out. It’s similar to the bas relief that can be found in the limestone and marble on numerous cathedrals and monuments from around the world. I wanted to make those images transportable and give them eternal life through oil paint.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I consider myself to be a very lucky person for I have my childhood dream of a career as an artist and a breeder of warmbloods. I’m also blessed to be able to live on the beach in Normandy as well as in the North Georgia mountains. I love how both of my passions allow me to travel all over the world to exhibit my work as well as to travel to the French show grounds to bring my horses to compete in young horse competitions.
What’s your biggest achievement in the horse world?
Being a breeder is already a very big achievement for me and I love every second of it. I’m passionate about breeding, breaking, training and developing the young horse into a great sport horse. I’ve had many great accomplishments with horses I’ve bred or just simply trained, this including but not limited to: Ultimate d’Iso winning the 5-year-old Young Horse hunter championships in Fontainebleau in 2013; Urzo d’Iso competing and winning in 1.50m classes; Deesse d’Iso competing and winning numerous classes on the 1.35m-1.40m Amateur circuit of the European Championships; and most importantly, Seringat, whom I broke, raised and trained from 2 to 7 years old, taking him to the young horse hunter finals at 4, 5 and 6 years old in Fontainebleau. Seringat later proved to be an amazing horse, winning the Nations Cup in Ocala twice ridden by Cian O’Connor, as well as placing third in Hermes Jump in Paris, ridden by Eduardo Alvarez.
What’s your biggest achievement in the art world?
Like the horses, it’s so hard to just answer one achievement. My art has been exhibited in many prestigious galleries and beautiful castles, won many salons and art contests including two Grand Prix, coincidentally in the vicinity of the town of Fontainebleau, as well as numerous press releases in various magazines, including this article in Sidelines!
What is your favorite art piece you have created?
I love all of my paintings for they are my creations; however, if I had to choose one in particular, it would be “Cowboy,” for this was painted with great emotion and has been awarded on numerous occasions (Le Franc et Bourgeois painting contest, first place in a juried art show in Clayton, Georgia, as well as winning the judges’ choice award in an art contest at the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport).
What’s the best thing about your life?
Besides being able to have a career that I love, I have my health and that makes me the richest person in the world.
For more information, visit brooke-major.com and follow on Instagram @brookeseeart
Brooke’s work can be seen at Whiteside Gallery in Cashiers, North Carolina, whitesideartgallery.com
Photos courtesy of Brooke Major