'February Gallops' is a tour de force of colour, from the cloudless blue sky that stretches above the leafless trees, to the dormant winter grass wrapped in a golden blanket of early spring light. Here we see racehorses in morning training thrown into sharp relief as they gallop towards the sun.
This oil painting measures 20 by 30 inches and depicts a pair of racehorses in morning training on Epsom Downs. Each horse is evidently enjoying his work across the gallops in an area that is known locally as 'Six Mile Hill', located behind the trees opposite the racecourse stands. The muted warmth of the early spring sunshine can be felt crawling across the canvas, playing on the flared nostrils of each horse. The crouching jockeys' clothes ripple with the force of the displaced air as their mounts gallop in tandem across the dormant landscape. Epsom Downs Racecourse hosts The Derby on the first Saturday in June each year.
I wanted this piece of art to convey the drama and majesty of the horse in motion. Of the eight legs that are painted in this piece only one is in contact with the ground. From this point of contact a shadow springs horizontally beneath, and then behind, the horses. This adds to the energy of the painting and underlines the power and pace of the horses. I have sought to paint the horses almost as if trying to outrun their shadows.
Colour plays a particularly important role in this painting. With horses and jockeys being painted 'contre-jour', or backlit, it would be very easy for their colour to be lost in shadow. However by painting the female jockey wearing white jeans with a burgundy jacket, with sunlight catching the folds of her clothing, she has become a focal point for the composition. The light colour of her trousers is echoed by the light edge of her horse's rug and saddle strap, which then forms a line connecting with the horse's left foreleg. This linear connection unites horse and rider, whose left legs are similarly angled, adding to the free flowing sense of motion that the horses already project.
'February Gallops' is available to buy as a limited edition print.
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