I had the good fortune to meet the most beautiful and gentle horse, Melissa (or Melissa the Magnificent as I like to think of her) on Par beach back in 2014. Her rider Claire kindly allowed me to take photographs of Melissa as reference images for my artwork, and all these years later I finally completed her portrait.
Unfortunately in the interim I lost Claire’s contact details, so I asked the wonderful community on my Facebook page if anyone could help me find her. Within less than 24 hours Claire made contact with me, and now the first two limited edition prints are off to live with Claire here in Cornwall, and Melissa’s previous owner in Devon.
Sadly Melissa is no longer with us, and her absence is strongly felt by those who loved her. This unexpected portrait seven years after our chance encounter has been very moving for Claire, and has reaffirmed to me the power of art to touch our lives and create connections between those who would otherwise remain strangers.
I have always had a fascination with heavy horses, there is something about their sheer size combined with their gentle and almost stoic nature which makes a beautiful combination. I have very fond memories of visiting The Shire Horse Centre as a child, an attraction we had here in Cornwall which was a mainstay for my generation’s family outings.
A few years ago I was walking on Par beach, a large sandy expanse which is very popular with a wide variety of residents and visitors alike, including the local equestrian community. I was lucky enough to meet this magnificent horse, Melissa, as she was being ridden one summers evening and had come to the beach for a wade in the sea. She and her human Claire were very friendly and were happy to wait whilst I took a few photographs for drawing. It took me some time to get to creating this artwork, but the dark December evenings were filled with memories of sunnier times by the sea whilst I had Melissa on my drawing board.
Despite her stature in real life this portrait of Melissa is only small, approximately 16 x 23cm, which gave rise to some challenges when adding such small details. But as with every artwork I create, I enjoyed being stretched and welcomed the opportunity to hone my skills.