Melissa Hornung has had a busy life as an international model, equestrian sportswoman, published writer and fine artist. “Like everyone who has a busy life,” she says, “you learn to juggle.” The subject of “Contemplating Surfing” doesn’t look too busy, which is one of many topics broached when we reached out recently.
Could you discuss your inspiration for this piece?
This was a painting commissioned by my brother, David Hornung, for Joe Farrell’s son, Joey. Joey was the photographer of the original photo of his father. Joe was enjoying a relaxing moment on the beach and Joey captured it. It was a sentimental photo for Joey, so the painting was created from his own vision and given to him for his birthday. It now hangs in the entryway of the Farrell’s Hamptons home, Sandcastle.
What are you looking forward to this summer?
I most look forward to outdoors living on our 30-acre farm in Lexington, Kentucky! We keep our horses, mini donkeys, chickens, dogs and cats there and I have a painting shed that I’m getting ready to open up. I decorate it with awnings and potted flowers and spend most of my days painting in there while I’m not tending to one of my three gardens. I grow all of our vegetables throughout the summer: zucchini, tomatoes, beans, peppers, lettuce, herbs, watermelons and cantaloupe. We even dine outside at a 10-foot-long barnwood table that my husband made. We entertain quite a bit. The donkeys and chickens are free range and are known to join us at the table.
You said in an interview once that when you became interested in polo you noticed there weren’t enough women playing. Is that still true?
Actually woman’s polo is now the fastest growing area of the industry. The Women’s Championship Tournament (WCT) was founded by Sunny Hale in 2005 and through various clubs and colleges that participate WCT focuses on women’s polo, making available competitive tournaments and qualifiers across the globe, in both arena and turf championships.
What advice do you have for women who want to get into polo?
I would tell any woman interested in playing polo to contact the WCT. Unfortunately the founder recently passed, but her legacy lives on through this organization.
What draws you to the equestrian theme?
I love horses and have had the good fortune to live the equestrian lifestyle. The horses that have come into my life have changed me forever. I owe to them the beauty and friendship that they have brought forth. [I’m thankful] for the people that I’ve been united with because of them, my husband being one of them.
Is there one piece of advice or wisdom you’ve received from another artist that you’ve always remembered?
I met Peter Williams, the painter famous for his paddock scenes of Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Saratoga. I approached him during the opening of Keeneland years ago and asked him what advice he would give another artist. He said, “Don’t ever paint longer than two hours at a time without taking a break. Just walk away, otherwise you will loose sight of what you are painting and start to make mistakes.” Best advise I ever received. Now it’s my rule.
Where can our readers see more of your work?
You can see my work [and other merchandise] on my website, monamelissa.com, and at shows that will be posted on that site. I plan to exhibit in the Hamptons over the summer.