A sharp eye for detail
Artist’s horse show posters
reflect her touch.
By Mary Anne
Inquirer Suburban Staff
PAOLI — Heather
Hedin Peacock admits that she is not at all at ease
riding a horse but that she is quite adept at capturing
the sleek equine athletes on canvas right down to the
sheen of their coat, their meticulously braided tails,
even the way the light hits a hoof.
For an artist
who loves light and color, the Devon Horse Show grounds
is the perfect place, Peacock said. “There’s so much
color and activity and excitement.”
painting of a rider, deep in concentration on a gleaming
chestnut horse in the practice ring at Devon, with a
view of the impressive grandstand, was chosen as the
poster for the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair that
opens May 22.
Practice Run, is “immediately recognizable as the
Devon Horse Show,” said Bev Smith, director of publicity
for the country’s oldest and largest outdoor horse show,
which attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year.
It is the
second time that Peacock, of Paoli, has been tapped for
the job. Her 2000 poster, Next Up, with two
horses and their riders waiting to compete in the Dixon
Oval at Devon, was a sellout, said Beth Wright, chair of
the Devon souvenirs committee.
equine images from photographs she snaps at the fair
grounds each year. Often, she does not know the name of
the horse or rider that becomes the subject of her work.
Peacock’s eye is the way light hits her subject, the
little shifts in color that define the horse’s anatomy,
the texture of a mane or hoof, or the fabric the rider
might be wearing.
One of her
works, Heels Down, focuses on the well-positioned
leg of a rider wearing black leather boot, the rider’s
gloved hands gripping the reins.
“I have a hard
time not focusing on the little details,” said Peacock
who even included the banners on the grandstand in
A 1994 graduate
of the Rhode Island School of Design, Peacock said she
breaks all the rules. She likes to use the smallest of
brushes and rather than “work the entire canvas at the
same time, I get lost in the details.”
“I like the
process of painting,” said Peacock, who may be known for
her equine images at Devon but also enjoys painting a
variety of subjects from the colorful houses in Bermuda
to a lifeguard stand on an Ocean City beach to the light
shining in a window of the historic John Chads House in
have kept Peacock busy since settling in Chester County
after graduating. She has painted everything from
historic stone treasures to a modest ranch house.
When painting a
house, she tries to capture what makes it special. That
may be a cat in the garden or a Japanese garden ornament
– it’s the details that elicit a fond memory, she said.
She has also
painted some pet portraits – often a beloved family dog
or in one case, two golden retrievers and a cat. For
that one, she had to take different photographs.
“No way could I
get the cat to pose with the dogs,” she said.
While she is on
vacation, she leaves her paints at home but takes her
camera. “I do most of my composing with the camera,”
said Peacock, who draws from the photographs, filling in
“I tend to
travel to colorful places,” she said, such as Bermuda;
San Francisco; Key West, Fla.; and St. Lucia. In
Bermuda, the colors of the houses went from shrimp color
to lemon yellow to ice blue, she said. “The play of the
colors against each other was very exciting.”
In Maine, where
her parents often vacation, “everywhere you turn is
another painting.” She has painted the late sun on the
boats at Christmas Cove, the colorful window boxes, even
a couple of inviting Adirondack chairs on a sunny day.
not really about the subject; it’s about the light and
color and what makes mundane things become beautiful
when you look at them in a different way,” she said.
Back home, an old, blue Ford truck “just caught my eye,”
she said. “It had such nostalgia,” she said, so she took
photographs and incorporated the truck into some country
realist painter who trained in oils but now prefers
acrylics, had planned a career in illustration but got
caught up in the local art scene.
It has been a
busy spring of shows, Peacock said, and it has been
“sort of therapy for me” since her husband, Ray, who is
in the Army National Guard, has been training in Georgia
and is waiting to go to Kosovo. The two met in art class
at Upper Darby High School, she said.
Her work has
been on display at the Yellow Springs Art Show, which
wraps up today. And for the fourth year, she will
participate in the Friends in Art show that opens
tomorrow and runs through the week at the Spread Eagle
Village Hall in Wayne.
one of the Friends in Art show founders, said that she
was a juror at one of Peacock’s first shows. “I could
just see she had great talent ... a great sense of
color. She does beautiful acrylics ... a lot of places
that you identify with ... the Jersey Shore and Devon.”
owner of Southwind Studios in Narberth where Peacock has
displayed her work, said that Peacock's Philadelphia
scenes – Independence Hall and Boathouse Row – were
popular. “It has very fine detail. She’s very meticulous
with her work.”
horse-show paintings, Peacock said, the biggest
challenge is to be accurate. “People who know and love
the sport would be disappointed to have something out of
place with the horse's anatomy or with the riding gear.”
This article originally
appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer,
Philadelphia, PA. (5/11/03).