Artist Denise Boineau presents her portfolio of oil paintings, featuring the world of polo and horse racing.
ABI: How did you get involved with creating equestrian art?
DB: I became interested in the relationship between horses and riders, as well as that between the horse/rider and the spectator at polo matches and the race track. The horse by itself is special. But you add a rider to the mix and the result is even more interesting.
There is a built in dynamism; even when there is little movement, there is the potential for surprise. In fact, my experience atop a horse that had bolted, that was blazing through open fields (in slow motion), jumping over one stone fence after another, with no thought of fox or end in sight—that experience, more than anything else, taught me how to capture the gallop, the unbreakable, and the intrinsic trust between horse and rider.
ABI: What is your background and how does that help with your art career now?
DB: I learned about line, color, and form while working in fashion and as a costume designer in the movie industry. I learned about composition and storytelling at Seventeen Magazine. And in all three, I learned about the three-way street between creators, their marketing intermediaries, and the consuming public.
How does one create a language with fabric and shapes? How does one build and fulfill expectations? How does one make things—objects—that resonate, take hold, forge memories? Why do we desire some things and not others? Why do we want to perform, share, build? If I had set out in college to become a painter; if I had skipped all the in-betweens, my answers to each of these questions would differ. There is something to be said for learning-by-doing-something-else.
ABI: Quite a bit of your work is created using a palette of black, white and grey. Why is that?
DB: Moviegoers in the 1930s paid 25 cents to leave behind the world of living color for 90 minutes and watch Nick, Nora, and Asta battle the bad guys in black and white. Why? And why did medieval altarpieces hide beautiful colors behind two locked doors painted in grisaille? I am not sure I fully know why.
But while working at Calvin Klein, I did learn that color distracts. Color hides. Color taps into memories that can, if not properly channeled, take us far away from what is right in front of us. Black, white, and gray makes it easier, I think, to bracket our surroundings and jump-start our senses. Color has its place. But so does minimalist expressions. If I were an abstract painter, I would no doubt be wielding a full palette, but I am attracted to the figure, to action, to story. So I subtract, I strip away, until it feels right. And then I let it go.
ABI: What did you gain from your experience taking an ABI workshop?
DB: I learned about the product: the art and the artist. About the myriad ways of marketing that product, of making a case for why “this painting” by “this artist” should be hanging on your wall. That the hard work begins right after the last brushstroke. And about community: that we can learn from each other by observing, listening, and sharing. Four sentences to summarize the 28 pages of notes that I took during the workshop.