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Mixing mediums and adding horses

Autumn Phillips

Take traditional Western art, blend it with the even more traditional art of the still life, and then thread the combination through the creative mind of artist Michelle Ideus.

What you get are mixed-media paintings that are both real and unreal — strange portraits of horses next to bowls of fruit.

She started the “Steamboat Horse Portrait Series” two years ago. It started as an experiment.

Ideus took an old painting of sandals on the beach in Maui and added a horse. It added a thousand meanings to the painting. The horse blended and, at the same time, the horse did not belong. Suddenly, there was a story there that hadn’t been there before.

After that, horses appeared in all her paintings. They were standing next to buildings or chairs, looking down at apples and glasses of wine.

And then the horses’ bodies started filling up with collages of paper windows and historical women.

“With all the layers, it flickers in and out of being one thing and then another,” she said.

She found ways to add more and more layers by adding reflections in windows and in the distant background.

“The horses got me interested in painting again and it also created a way that I could paint for the local market,” Ideus said.

Since she graduated with a degree in fine art from Colorado State University, Ideus had been painting traditional landscapes and studio-built still-life art.

She always had a unique style — playing with shapes inside of shapes — but adding horses was a breakthrough.

Though Ideus paints horses into her work, she doesn’t have any real horses of her own and has only ridden a horse a couple of times.

“It’s just about the interaction in the painting and the story it creates,” she said.


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