This week’s cover is the poster of the 2016 Hampton Classic, from the painting “Flexible Soul” by equine artist Shannon Lawlor. It depicts the celebrated Olympic show jumping stallion, Flexible, the mount of U.S. Olympic veteran Rich Fellers.
Lawlor came across Flexible and Fellers while displaying her artwork at the Masters Tournament at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, British Columbia last year. She caught sight of the 2012 FEI World Cup Champions before they entered the show ring, and took a photograph that inspired her to create the painting.
Lawlor’s passion for horses runs deep. “It isn’t one thing, it’s everything they encompass. The hang time between strides—it’s that fleeting moment right there, the pause in his gait, that takes my breath away,” she explains in the video, For the Love of Horses. “I’m so inspired when I see them move or when they turn and look at somebody a certain way. That’s the moment I try to seize and take to the studio with me and carry over into my artwork.”
Before making the journey from her home in Alberta, Canada to Bridgehampton for the Hampton Classic this weekend, Lawlor spoke a bit about her art.
Alberta, Canada—what’s that like right now?
It’s summer—it’s about 72 degrees. I live on the Eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies so every day is beautiful.
Have you ever been out to Long Island?
I’ve been to New York twice, but not out to the Island. This will be my first time. We’re making the trip out there for the Hampton Classic and planning to leave tomorrow to start the drive. I’m the first Canadian they’ve ever picked for the poster. It’s a big honor. They invited me so I will be set up there with a gallery in Stable Row.
When did you get started painting?
Before I can remember. I’ve always wanted to draw and paint, and it’s always been there. I’ve been professionally painting for 11 years now.
Did you study art formally?
I have no formal education in art, but took semi-private lessons and learned about the technical side. Then I combined it with what I knew about horses and formed a career as an equine artist.
When did your love for horses begin?
Since before I can remember. I’ve always had horses and I grew up with them. They definitely shaped how my life unfolded. My whole life has revolved around horses—I’ve worked hands on in the equine industry, so my love and knowledge and experience of them has transferred over to the artwork, but I know it comes from a deep love and experience.
Lawlor’s work hangs in ranches, as well as office towers, hotels and homes, and she is often spotlighted as a featured artist at invitational shows including Nevada’s Northeastern Museum, Arizona’s Phippen Museum and Alberta’s Calgary Stampede. The original depiction of “Flexible Soul” is painted in acrylic on Baltic birch, measuring 24” x 36” and is available for purchase at the Hampton Classic. To see more of her artwork, check out shannonlawlor.com and be sure to visit her at this year’s Hampton Classic. Visit hamptonclassic.com for dates and times.