Driftwood Horses

Anne Louise MacDonald is a local artist who creates sculptures of horses, writes books on horses, photographs horses, teaches about horses, and lives with horses. Anne Louise may like horses just a little... 

How did your love of horses transfer to your passion for art i.e. sculpture? Was it very hard learning how to create sculptures and discovering the artist inside? 

I was born in love with horses and have spent nearly five decades around them. No surprise that my mother said the first thing I ever drew was a horse. When I got serious about photography, my horses were clearly an obvious subject, even resulting in illustrations for a book on horse care. But when I retired, I dreamed of painting life-size canvases... of horses.

I went to a gallery opening to get up close to large works, to start to relearn a medium I hadn’t touched in decades. Out of the blue the artist told me I should make horses from driftwood. I think we had talked about the passion we shared for collecting beach stones and wood. But I wasn’t planning on making driftwood horses. Yet the idea stuck. So I tried.

I’ve always liked working with tools and it only took a few months of trial and error to create a horse I was happy with. I’m very fussy and I’m still improving on my techniques. Though they are not realistic in proportions, the sculptures have to elicit the true sense of correct horsy movement and form. Making them is a very organic process. Finding the right pieces of wood takes the most time, then the technical part of attaching the bits is a fun challenge.

Now that the ‘artist inside’ is out, I’m also painting again (on beach stones) and continuing to write.

What advice would you give other aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to fail. People with good imaginations see incredible things in their minds, but often can’t make them happen in real life right away. So they think they have failed. Just keep trying. Reimagining. Learning from others. Practicing. Creating can be hard work, but when you enjoy the process, it is wonderful work. So most of all — have fun.

Did you find there was a disconnect between your career in science and your passion for art? How did you pursue your passion?

No, my career required a fair amount of creative thought and I have always tried to find spare time to release the artist-me. It is very unhealthy not to. I did painting, photography and had six books published over the years. But being completely free to dabble artistically at any time is magical. I still keep my finger in the ‘science’ of horses (I teach horse care) but that feeds my spirit as well.

What was it like when you sold your first piece of art?

I was thirteen. I sold a pen drawing of our cat and kittens for ten dollars, a huge sum for me at the time. I remember it clearly; someone liked what I did enough to spend money on it! I will always do art for myself but to see another’s eyes light up, to get to share my art, is perfect.

Learn more about Anne Louise Macdonald Here