Local artist achieving international attention

Shannon Ford's deep passion for the animal allows her to uniquely capture their mystique

Local artist achieving international attention

A local painter is about to see her work on display around the world and at home – with pieces ready to show in New York City; Kent, England; the Vancouver Children’s Hospital as well as the Lloyd Gallery in Penticton.

Shannon Ford lives alongside horses on a ranch in the South Okanagan, and her deep passion for the animal allows her to uniquely capture their mystique.

“I’m not painting a representational photographic image of a horse, I’m painting more about how I feel about the horse,” she said. “Even if I’m painting a horse I don’t own, I always go and meet the horse first so I can get to know it and paint more than just what it looks like.”

Ford said she substitutes some realism in her paintings through the conceptual use of colour.

“When you look at it from a distance it looks very representational, like how the muscles are in the right place – I make sure that they’re anatomically accurate. But the the colour is one of the things I use to express more than just the character of the horse.”

As an artist, Ford said she’s inspired every time she goes outside to see and feed the horses. She was recently inspired after several days of overcast skies before the sun finally came out, when her stallion Ritmo – a palomino – appeared to her as a polished, beautiful golden statue with the sun glinting off him.

A painting of Ritmo is set to appear on the program cover at the third annual Equus Film Festival NYC. It was originally painted for The George and Friends Show at the Leir House last year – was the top submission in the selection process.

“It’s every artist’s dream to show in New York, it’s like this fantasy, so it’s going to be interesting to go there.”

Another one of Ford’s pieces, Horse Power, has been accepted to hang indefinitely at the Vancouver Children’s Hospital, and can be experienced in 3D with special glasses.

Marjo Thompson, co-owner of the Lloyd Gallery, said the piece offers meaningful metaphors to the people who will be viewing it.

“Horse Power celebrates the intense energy emanating from a horse in full gallop, rivalling and racing against the clockwork — the cogs and numbers breaking out in all directions under the horse’s head as the willpower and tenacity of the horse here races against time,” Thompson said. “Time may, under normal circumstances, be unexceptional, calculated and unvarying, but for a family and child overcoming an illness, time is anything but regular. The horse is racing to give a boost of energy and rattle the clockwork of time a little to help the children and families who need it most win their race.”

“Horse Power has some amazing archetypal stuff – the horse, the power of the horse and the harnessing of that power,” Ford said. “Not only is it a combination of the imagery, but it’s also the colour and fantasy that will help to empower people – children and their parents – when they’re going through a tough time to find their own power.“

Ford leaves the viewer with no choice but to use their imagination to interpret the images, and said different elements of her pieces will be appreciated depending on how the viewer physically approaches them.

“They all consist of drips, scratches, splatters and open ended expressionistic brush work. For me, that’s an important part of my work.”

A Canadian gallery that commissioned one of her paintings to a gallery in Kent, England said the piece was damaged en route, and because only the artist can fix it, she’s being flown to Europe on repair duty. She said she’ll be taking a few extra days to explore England’s art galleries.

“My art is taking me around the world, which is fun because I love travelling and sharing my art.”

It’s still possible to view Ford’s work without boarding a plane. She has a three-week long solo exhibit at the Lloyd Gallery at 18 Front St. beginning on Nov. 5. The show runs until Nov. 28, and there will be an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 5.