Alli Farkas Horse Portraits

Here are some paintings I have completed in the last year or so, along with a bit of commentary about each one.

This painting of Suzanne and her horse Gio presented quite a challenge in terms of source material. It was a dramatically lit photo, but the fact that the lights were so bright and the darks so dark made it difficult to suss out details of the horse's tack and the rider's clothing. To add to the misery, the slanted raking angle of the light emphasized every single divot in the arena sand! It's not every artist who wants to spend hours detailing impressions in sand--although I have seen some "impressive" examples. Anyhow, I took advantage of my creativity as an artist and my knowledge of horse tack and rider attire to fill in the blanks and end up with this lovely little 8" x 10" oil painting on Gessobord™

Suzanne & Gio


This past summer I snagged an invitation to paint four distinct versions of the same vintage cottage on Diamond Lake in Cassopolis, Michigan. The owner wanted one as a gift for each of her four children. This commission is now complete, six months and a lot of ingenuity (to get 4 "wow factor" paintings of the same subject) later. The best part is, both my client and I are ecstatic with the results!


I had another go at painting oil on an 8" x 10" gesso board. This one was to commemorate Finnie, who went over the Rainbow Bridge just before Christmas. It's hard for me to paint a horse who is no longer with us when I know both the horse and owner, but it also helps to know both of them because I feel close to them and am determined to get the spirit of the horse into the painting.



Twice a year I spend a weekend with my portrait booth at the Reins of Life Benefit Dressage Show. It's a therapeutic riding facility with two locations in northern Indiana. This time while sitting in my booth I completed an Aquabord™ with a dressage horse, which I had not done previously. I like this one a lot, so I'll have to look through my photos to see if I have any others for next time. It's titled "Anticipation" and is available on the Aquabords page.


Three Aquabord™ paintings I completed while booth sitting at the Richland Park Horse Trials and CCI*** in August. I nominated my mare Charm to be the "body model" for each of these paintings, since I have so many good action photos of her to work from. So in 4 days she went from herself (chestnut), to white, to a twin set of bays...all available on the Aquabords page.




An Aquabord™ commission to commemorate the life and passing of a great lesson horse, herd leader, and driving horse. Just the fact that he lived as long as he did was some sort of miracle. He was part of a driving pair when the wagon they were pulling was hit by a truck. The other horse died, but Dale lived on, came to Willow Tree in Bangor, Michigan, and learned how to be brave in harness all over again. He always took care of even the tiniest riders in lessons, effectively ruled his herd with the slightest shakes of his big head, and was beloved by all at the stable. 


The Sky Pads series, quite a project!Sky Pads 1

Sky Pads 1, first in a projected series of 10, which has now become 18...and will apparently keep increasing until I have exhausted all possibilities! It was inspired by the illusion of lily pads floating in clouds, which were reflected in the water of the Mill Pond located behind my house. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.

Sky Pads 2Sky Pads 2, with new colors and a slightly different technique. I expect these changes to continue as the series progresses, which is what makes it fun and interesting. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 3

Sky Pads 3, developing the water patterns. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 4

Sky Pads 4, an experiment with a lovely vertical cascade, preserving the color palette of the two previous paintings in the series. This painting is sold.


Sky Pads 5

Sky Pads 5 continues the vertical concept, and adds a more ethereal look with transparencies and highlights. Now it's not as certain what kind of surface the pads are floating upon. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 6

Sky Pads 6 adds even more complexity to the layers, blending surface with reflections and shadows, topped with a misty quality. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 7Sky Pads 7 emphasizes the importance of the environment over the presumed subject matter. The deepness of the many color layers gives this painting a richness and a mystery that could not be achieved by concentrating on the physical lily pads alone. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 8

Sky Pads 8 is a bit of a throwback to Sky Pads 2, illustrating the circular nature of this series, which is more of an exploration than an orderly progression. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 9

Sky Pads 9 is a return to the color palette of Sky Pads 1, with more emphasis on the clouds and reflections in the water than was evident in the earlier version. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 10

Sky Pads 10 is the first in the series to address the vertical aspect of water lilies. This composition offers a study in contrast between the flatness of the pads and the energetic upward reach of the stemmed leaves. The strong shadows add a third dimension, then all three are melded together by the binding effects of the color layers. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 11

Sky Pads 11 is the largest painting in the series so far, and at 4 feet by 5 feet it benefited from all the various exploratory techniques which preceded it. All of the ephemeral watery/cloudy/foggy effects are here, coupled with strong movement of colors and lily pads and leaves that fade in and out of a moody liquid context. The observer will create the scene. The artist has provided the raw elements. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 12

After a bit of a hiatus, Sky Pads 12 is finished. At 36" x 48" it is in the size range of most of the series. This one is the most vibrant, color-intense painting yet, which does not surprise me since as I progress in a series an increase in color saturation and contrast is what is likely to happen. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 13

With Sky Pads 13 I thought it might be a good idea to try to backtrack a bit toward the ethereal light quality of some of the earlier Sky Pads paintings. After the "paint riot" that was exemplified by number 12, I knew it would be difficult to regain a light touch but I really felt that this particular composition demanded it. To me this painting represents sort of a half-way point between the early works and Sky Pads 12. I hope to stick around in this interpretation for at least a little while. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.


Sky Pads 14

Sky Pads 14 is a few steps further along the stylistic path begun by #13. A bit more subtle in its illusion of depth with a bit more of water surface reflection for the viewer's eye to play with.  This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.

Sky Pads 15

Sky Pads 15 took the color palette from #9 and heightened saturation, brightness, and contrast. There isn't much of a suggestion of clouds in this one, but rather a focus on looking directly into the shallow water searching for underwater forms created by the sinking of deteriorating foliage and the eruption of new leaves which have still not risen above the water's surface. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.

Sky Pads 16

I have nicknamed Sky Pads 16 "Sweet Sixteen"--it just seemed like a happy number to finally arrive at. I've got plans for #17, because there is no set limit on how far this is going to go. In the meantime, I'm appreciating how this painting really does make the pads look like they're suspended in clouds.This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.

Sky Pads 17

The intriguing background for Sky Pads 17 came about purely by accident. All of the paintings in this series have an initial poured paint background but it never turns out the same because it is essentially random. In this one, the paint separated itself out of the paint thinner I used to make it a thin liquid, creating this nice sense of flow under the pads. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.

Sky Pads 18

I was hoping to duplicate the poured background technique used in Sky Pads 17, and #18 looks to be a successful effort. I felt that the fact that the paint was poured on a sweltering hot day was an important factor, so I waited for the weather to heat up again. Sky Pads 18's composition is more complex than its predecessor but it still partners with the flowing background in an eye-catching way. This painting is available on the Oil Landscapes page.

The "Eyes" Have It"The Eyes Have It"--ink and watercolor on paper. About 6" x 8" in size, matted to fit in an 8" x 10" frame like all of my ink drawings. This one is the first time I have mixed watercolor and ink in the same artwork. My client initially wanted a simple ink drawing but when I saw her photo I immediately realized we could get something dramatic if we gave a splash of color to the eye. She agreed, and let me know how much she loves this mini-portrait.

PowerAn Aquabord™ of Jenny, who you will see in an earlier, larger original oil version if you scroll down two more photos. I liked the oil so much I thought it would be neat to do a watercolor one too. The two watercolors of Jenny are sold.

GraceThis is another Aquabord™ of Jenny titled "Grace", taken from a different angle.


Jenny is a lovely Gypsy Vanner mare who was won in a give-away contest by Reins of Life Therapeutic Riding Centers in Michigan City and South Bend, Indiana. Already trained to drive, she is now training for under saddle work as a therapy horse. Lovely mare with an outstanding, willing personality. This painting is available for purchase on the oil portraits page.

Phil's Ponies

"Phil's Ponies", a commissioned Aquabord™ portrait of Tom and Junior, long-ago pulling ponies for my client's father. A special gift to commemorate them.

Here's a recently commissioned stall plate, this one with a head study instead of the horse in action. It's oil for the portrait and acrylic paint for the lettering, all on a pine wood plaque. I like this one because I was able to capture both the detail of the horse and the out-of-focus background without either one looking like it didn't belong with the other. This one is for the daughter of my first stall plate customer, Kim Lawrence.


This is one of a fairly large series of Aquabord™ paintings I've been doing for the last couple of years. They are all wild horses which I was lucky enough to photograph on a trip to the northern California/Nevada border a couple of summers ago. This one is titled "Pride" and is available for purchase along with several others on the Aquabords™ page.