Horses were living with people before the dawn of recorded history. Their strength, endurance, and speed were part of the success of early humans. Horses were prized over centuries for their role in travel, agriculture, war, sport, and social position. Horses and people have had a deep connection for a very long time. Horses were the primary animal subject of early art. Stone Age paintings on the walls of caves in Spain and France, drawn in charcoal and pigment by firelight, evolved over millennia to the early Renaissance, when Leonardo da Vinci perfected the skill and art of drawing – horses were a frequent subject. The horse’s power, harmony of form, and balance of movement are seen in the drawings.
“When I was a little girl, my mother showed me the drawings of Leonardo. I was fascinated. I loved them. I began, then, to draw horses.”
Ashley Binder, an artist in Santa Fe, was that little girl. Her work evolved from that style, on paper and canvas, in charcoal and pigment. Over time, she found her own voice but stayed connected to the old tools and style of the Renaissance masters. In her drawings, Ashley captures the character of the animal and the flow of its movement, just as they did, but in her own way. She has loved horses always. Ashley has horses of her own now and cares for them, trains them, rides them, and loves them – her inspiration is continuous.
To Ashley, horses represent so much of life. She loves beautiful things in all forms and the horse, with its beauty, strength, and grace is the pinnacle.
“Horses can bring tears to my eyes, just by how beautiful they are, and how proud they are to be a horse. I love art, I love beautiful things, I love horses. It’s a perfect circle.”
Ashley says that her work is powerful yet calming. The power comes from the charcoal and the horse – the calming comes from the soft lines and style. Her work is simple and elegant. Her lines curve and flow, reflecting the smooth movement and grace of the animals. The horse’s spirit, its essence, comes right out of the image. Ashley says that charcoal can do this best – a few lines, a few shadows, a little pigment - simple, elegant.
“I don’t set out to draw something specific – I have an idea and it evolves as I draw. It’s loose, it’s organic. The lines get deeper and the image breaks free. Whatever happens after that is beyond my control - It’s exciting for me.”
Ashley’s work has been collected all over the United States , and around the world, in Edinburgh, Rome, Barcelona. Many of her collectors have lived with one of her pieces for a while and then bought another. Ashley says that she is so pleased when her collectors tell her how much they enjoy her work – “I love it when they have as much pleasure in owning it as I had in drawing it.”