Canadian Artist Melinda Brewer
By Katie Navarra
Canadian-based artist Melinda Brewer has dedicated her life to chronicling the sport of polo and its most accomplished horses. She’s been honored with countless awards and her artwork has hung in galleries across North America and around the world. This year marks the fourth consecutive year she’s been selected to participate in the Art of the Animal Kingdom show in Bennington, Vermont.
Sidelines wanted to learn more about this artist whose endless talents range from painting wildlife and farm animals to polo ponies and hounds so we visited with her to learn more about her life in the art world.
Sidelines: When did you first discover your talents as an artist?
Melinda Brewer: I’ve been painting for more than 30 years. My professional career began in 1982 after graduating from university but I’ve been drawing pictures of animals from the time I could draw at 6 or 7 years old. We’d take sketchbooks on our family trips and we’d draw what we saw; it’s just what we did.
Sidelines: Did your career start with wildlife art?
MB: Yes, I was very lucky that in the 1980s, a lot of wildlife art was popular. The World Wildlife Fund, Ducks Unlimited and the Canadian Nature Federation, among others, held big juried art shows. I got in and it was really exciting. I was fortunate to have participated in several prominent wildlife and animal art exhibitions across North America. It was the encouragement I needed to carry on as an artist.
Sidelines: Do you love painting polo ponies?
MB: I’ve painted close to 70 portraits of famous polo ponies and award winners in addition to scenes depicting the sport of polo. Polo ponies are remarkable athletes. They’re as great as any racehorse or jumper. It’s extraordinary that they stand so quietly at the trailer, but on the field they morph into competitors and warhorses. Then when the match is done, they come back and stand at the trailer.
Sidelines: Your love for polo ponies extends to an annual collectible publication. Tell us about that.
MB: Polostars is a distinctive, high quality, annual souvenir publication featuring 10 fine art portraits and multiple sketches as well as stories documenting the past year’s Best Playing Pony awards during the high goal season in the United States, including major tournaments such as the CV Whitney, Piaget Gold Cup and the prestigious U.S. Open. It’s the only existing publication of its kind. Last year marked the 10th anniversary for this project.
Sidelines: Are hounds another subject you enjoy painting?
MB: As an avid fan of the sporting dog breeds, myself an owner of black Labs, I look forward to any opportunity to capture the hunting hounds either at the kennel or working at the hunt. In 1990, my painting “Springtime Red Fox” was selected by Ducks Unlimited Canada as part of their annual art print program. Taken from one of a pair of original watercolors featuring red foxes in a springtime moment, these images are still sought after today. Since then I’ve painted many fox paintings, portraits and studies, probably more than any other animal.
Sidelines: Of all the paintings you’ve completed, which has been your favorite?
MB: Every one is my favorite at the time I’m working on it. I have a large body of work. Each piece is as important as the previous one.
Sidelines: You really don’t have a favorite?
MB: Recently, I told my husband that if I had to rescue one painting from a fire it would be a painting that hangs in our house. It features a flock of Canada geese flying in a V formation against a dramatic November sky. I don’t know why that piece stands out so much — it’s not a spectacular piece of art — but maybe it’s because of what was going on in life when I painted it or because I miss the annual migration of the birds since I spend every winter in Florida.
Sidelines: Have your horses ever been the subject of your artwork?
MB: ThreeMagicBeans, an English Thoroughbred that I owned and cherished for 18 years, was the only horse of many I’ve owned that I actually painted a portrait of. He was an all-around guy who did everything. I may have to save that one from a fire as well!
Sidelines: What medium do you paint?
MB: Ninety percent of my work today is watercolor. I also love oil painting, but it’s much more of a time commitment and it has to be done in the daylight. I just don’t have five hours to set up before painting and then spend five more hours painting. Watercolors I can pick up at any time of day and spend as little or as much time painting as I have available. I absolutely do not like acrylics!