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Spirit of the Horse ~ One Artist’s Journey of Inspiration

The earthly horse expresses itself in many beautiful forms, shapes, and sizes. Yet when seen through an artist’s eyes –other aspects and elements of horse spirits can be revealed.

My favorite horse as a child at the only riding stable within a day's drive

My favorite horse as a child at the only riding stable within a day’s drive

I have loved horses from the time I could remember, and I have drawn them from the time I could hold a crayon.  I was fortunate to know from an early age that I wanted to be an artist, and thankfully unlike some artists, my parents supported my talent.

The catalyst to begin painting horses professionally happened in 1987 while I was visiting family friends in Arroyo Grande, California. I was attending Art College with plans to become a professional artist – but it was their Arabian horses that inspired me to focus my work exclusively on horses.

I had been drawing and painting horses since I was a child, but I lived in the city and didn’t have easy access to horses, so my drawings had been from my imagination or from photographs. When I asked if I could draw the horses for my school homework, our friend Geska suggested we let them out to play in the sand arena.

This was my first experience seeing horses at liberty. Their expressive movements and free spirits inspired me and filled me with excitement. At first I was daunted at how to capture their quick and dynamic movements on paper – but then something magical happened, I began to feel their movements and see them as forms. I let my pencil draw what I felt rather than what I saw, and a new style was born in my art. From then on – I knew I wanted to be a horse artist.

Original Spirit Sketches

Creetures Abound - an early scratchboard created when I was fourteen

Creatures Abound – an early scratchboard created when I was fourteen

Throughout my childhood drawings I had often combined images of animals with images of other animals, women, or nature. These works always had a sense of the beings and elements becoming combined – metamorphosing into a shared being, or revealing the shapes of what was hidden. These drawings were expressions of a philosophy that was in my heart and soul from a very early age; that humans, animals, and Nature is all One.

Cat Dreams - created in high school

Cat Dreams – created in high school

Forest Mystic prints available at

Forest Mystic prints available at spiritofhorse.

I also had a penchant for seeing images in other things such as dragons in driftwood.

These themes emerged in my art in other ways.  In 1989 I was driving through Wyoming to a horse show to exhibit my artwork, when a striking cloud formation caught my eye. I pulled the car off the road and took several photographs. I didn’t know what it was that so intrigued me about the clouds, but I was powerfully drawn to them. When I had the photos developed, I couldn’t stop looking at the pictures – there was something there that eluded me… then, I saw it. A horse head in the cloud! Then another… and another.

"Silent Sentinels" ~ Three Horses Roam the Cloudscape

“Silent Sentinels” ~ Three Horses Roam the Cloudscape

It was the beginning of a series of works I titled Horses in the Elements – horses revealed in forms of nature. I began seeing horses in waves, mountains, desert sands, lightning, and fire. These works became one of my most popular series. My collectors were powerfully intrigued by the subtlety of the horses hidden in the paintings, and often they themselves began seeing horses in clouds and waves as well.

Another series, called “Kindred Spirits” was born when I had the inspiration to depict horses with other animals that shared their beauty and their spiritual and emotional qualities. One of these works is “Brother Earth, Sister Sea” in which a horse and a dolphin are blended as one being. These two beings share many inspiring traits.   Their social nature welcomes the interactions of mankind, and they have similar “herd” dynamics and behaviors.   The dolphin seems natural as mirroring the arc of the horse’s neck, and emerging through the horse’s forehead – portraying the expressions of intuition, wisdom, and imagination.

Brother Earth, Sis Sea_Dye

The spirits of horses touch us in many ways that are ever expanding. Little did I know when I sat on a fence in California that those horses would be the inspiration for my life’s work.  My art is ever expanding and my desire is to look beyond the beauty of the horse, into the powerful spiritual and emotional wisdom they hold for humans.

Resources: Kim’s artwork and writing are also offered in two works published by New World Library: “The Way of the Horse”  a book and card set by author Linda Kohanov, and “Way of the Horse” Journal written and illustrated by Kim with a foreword by Linda Kohanov. More information at

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