“I graduated from Goldsmiths Art College in the seventies with a degree in Painting, Textiles and Embroidery. Following a desire to travel and explore other countries, I lived in Spain for ten years. During this time, I worked as a portrait artist on the Costa Brava, where I acquired a fine reputation for pastel and pencil sketches.”
To see further examples of Elizabeth Armstrong’s work, please visit www.elizabetharmstrong.co.uk.
Original Artwork available for viewing at Shadwell Stud, Newmarket UK.
What is your artistic background?
My father was an architect and encouraged me to paint and draw from a young age. I trained at Croydon School of Art and then completed a degree at Goldsmiths in London.
What is your equine / racing background? Why horses? Do you paint other subjects?
I have no racing or equine background. My mother’s uncle came from Italy and had a hansome cab in London. I have always enjoyed being around and riding horses from an early age. In the mid-80s, I moved to Spain and ran a treking centre for six years and was drawing portraits at the same time. I enjoy painting all types of animals, but equine subjects are my favourite subject.
How did you get started with your career?
A friend had horses in training in Newmarket, he was impressed with my painting style and suggested that I should focus on painting racehorses.
Is art a full-time occupation for you? Has it always been?
Yes it is now, but prior to this I have worked in many different jobs around the world.
What was your first big break?
Selling some large paintings to Johnny and Roger Weatherby for their offices in Wellingborough. This really began my recognition as an equine artist within the racing industry.
How would you describe your work? In what direction is your work heading? Who has been an influence on your work? I would describe my work as ‘Passionate expressions of movement and originality’. My key infuencers have been the artists El Greco, Van Gogh, Turner, Jackson Pollock and John Skeaping.
How difficult has it been to become established? How do you market your work?
I initially found it difficult to break into the racing industry. Once I managed to start selling to a few
owners and trainers, people started to take me seriously and this has really seen the business grow. Now I am asked to complete regular commissions and have worked with a number of the UK’s racecourses.
How important for you was it to get a commission such as Shadwell’s? Was it an enjoyable piece to do?
I felt very privileged to work with Shadwell and it was very interesting to go up and draw the stallions at the stud. This gave me good exposure with such a prestigious organisation in the racing industry.
How did you go about pulling the pieces together for the brochure?
Each drawing was completed at the stud where I spent time with many of the horses.
Is your work exhibited anywhere currently? You have a tie-up with some racecourses…?
My work was most recently exhibited at Smith & Williamson Investment Bank in Moorgate, London.
I have worked with Ascot and shown work there over the past three years. Northern Racing is a great supporter of my work and I provided the art work for the new Ffos Las raecourse when it opened in 2009. That was a great opportunity.
Most recently, I worked on a project with Fontwell Park where I was commissioned to create the artwork for the wonderful new grandstand.
What’s coming up for you in the foreseeable future?
This year I will continue working with Northern Racing and also Newbury and Royal Windsor, where I attend many of their meetings.
I am also working towards having an exhibition in Cork Street, London within the next two years.
Who do you show your work to first? Do you have a friendly critic?!
My artistic critic is my friend who is not an artist but understands my work and is very good at giving open and honest feedback. It is good to bounce ideas off someone – as an artist it is easy to get a little stuck in your own “zone” sometimes! However, it is my gut feeling that has the final say!
What is the favourite piece you have done?
It is called “Can you feel the force”, which is oil pigment on canvas. This is a representation of the start of the Dubai World Cup.
Other living artists you particularly admire?
My favourite current artists are Tracey Emin and Anselm Kiefer.