From the Start… “To the Finish”
It all started, when an old friend, Bill Britton told me about this competition to become the first official artist of the Queen's Plate. I was intrigued.
I asked my friend about potential subjects for a painting. He, being a student of breeding, loves the game and suggested that I paint a Conquest runner as they field beautiful, high quality runners at Woodbine and that I could expect to see them in the winner’s circle on a regular basis.
My wife Tracey and I wasted no time, we dusted off our camera collection and headed out to Woodbine Racetrack. With a little help from friends, we were able to snap several hundred action shots.
Choosing which image to paint was at the top of my list of challenges. There is no shortage of bright colorful pictures to paint from. I was so fascinated by all the colours of the uniforms that were on the jockeys and horses. I was a bit intimidated because of the large following of artists and people in general that I imagined horse racing has, but nevertheless trusted that I would do my best to provide the best painting that I could for the cause.
As I watched them running, I could hear the pounding of the hooves, people in the stands yelling and cheering them on. I was overwhelmed. The photos did little justice with regard to speed and sound. I had to come up with something….. But what?
My training as a billboard artist allowed for very large paintings which I prefer. Detail is very important to me as an artist and a viewer. I was not married to the idea that I must use a Conquest horse. But I was drawn to my favourite combination of orange and teal of Conquest and this shot seemed perfect.
CONQUEST Bigluck E (#3 ) did not win that day but he made huge powerful gains through the lane and had such determination in his eyes. I loved his heart.
I was drawn to this picture but felt that it needed more. I remembered what my illustration teacher said to me, “If it needs to be changed then change it and make it new.” So a little cut and paste and overlapping was in order. The number 7 horse was moved over to the inside of the track allowing the Conquest #3 horse to take the centre stage. I enlarged the Conquest #3 horse a bit and after the painting was almost completed, wispy streaks were added to encourage movement and sound.
Well, here it is…the finished piece.
“I am honoured to make such an impactful contribution” Kaneisha De Leon and Olaf standing in front of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame
to the finish... | 22 x 48 | oil on canvas
I decide to call this painting “To the Finish”, for isn’t that what horse racing is all about. The painting can be used in many different mediums such as a book, billboard advertising, website splash page, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, it could even be a nice bookmark.
The phone rang on May 29th, I answered and a ladies voice came on and said that I was chosen as one of five artists that the public would vote for as the Official Artist of the 2015 Queen’s plate. I was speechless.
Woodbine Raceway Official 2015 Artist of the Queens Plate
On June 18th, the phone rang again. I was told I was chosen as the first place winner of the contest. I felt very overwhelmed by the phone call that I received. I couldn’t even speak at first. All I could do was thank God for blessing me with the gift of art. I thanked my wife Tracey for her love and support as well as my friends.
To be selected as the official Artist of the Queen’s Plate is truly an honour. I have worked as a professional artist for decades but feel a special sense of gratitude being able to participate and contribute to such a Canadian Institution.
I have always been a fan of equine art. I share their eagerness for running as I paint. Since this contest was announced, my wife and I have become regular attendees at Woodbine Racetrack and continue to refine our abilities in the collection of photos of horses racing. We now plan our weekends around the races and I suspect that I'll be painting horses until I am old and grey.
While I am not a bettor, I just love the action. I have found my new passion!!!