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A Uniquely Vermont Artist: Red Horse Studio

A Red Pine Mountain LogoI've been sidelined by more eye problems lately forcing me to stay quiet so instead of sharing my adventures with you, I thought I'd instead I'd have a change of pace.

Close your eyes and think of Vermont.  What comes to mind?  The scenery?  Cows?  Mountains?  Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream?  Yes, Vermont is well known for many things but to to me the most exciting thing about Vermont is the people who live here.  Diverse in interests, rich in talents it is the people who make this state uniquely Vermont.  And today, I'd like to introduce to you a very talented artist from Burke, Vermont, Joan Harlow of Red Horse Studio.

I can never look at a work of art without wondering about the person who created it. I want to know about their life and their motivations; that which inspires them and in the case of Vermont artists, I always wonder why they chose to live in Vermont. If you’re as curious as I am, grab a cup of tea or a mug of coffee and discover more about the talented woman behind Red Horse Studio.

Joan and her husband, a retired English professor who taught at Lyndon State College, live on a small farm, with horses, dogs, cats and chickens. Because of her husband’s interest in goats, they recently acquired two Oberhasli female (Swiss dairy goats) aptly named Emily and Lavinia for Emily Dickinson and her sister.

Joan’s studio is named for her horse, Gaddy, a wonderful horse who really does look red in certain lights. (She’s a sorrel, to give her color the correct equine name.)

Joan met her husband, Brian, through horses. Here, in her words, is her story.

I rented two of Brian’s horses, one summer when my daughter was 10, and I remembered what wonderful animals these are. And in time, Brian and I married and I found, when I moved to Vermont, that I was meant to live in the country. The simple joys of birdsong, of toad song in the spring, the surprise of finding hepatica blooming on a steep slope in the woods, the night skies filled with stars – as you know, these are just a few of the delights we enjoy with no effort. Looking out a window at fields and mountains restores the soul, in a way that city life, with views of other buildings and cars, does not.

Besides painting, which I greatly enjoy, I am a justice of the peace and a member of the Burke Conservation Commission. As a JP, I have the pleasure of officiating at weddings (and the less enjoyable task of hearing tax grievances.) The conservation commission works with the Planning Board to try to keep the rural character of our town — the wildlife corridors, the woodlands and wetlands — thriving. Like everywhere, Burke feels the pressure of development.

I came to full-time painting late, but I have had the pleasure and benefit of three excellent teachers: Frank Webb, Charles Reid, and Barbara Nechis. From them I learned many valuable approaches and have incorporated the ones that fit into my own style. I aim to draw accurately, paint freely, and to bring energy ,light and rich color into my work. Although the paintings are of places and people, the real subjects are my responses to light and color.

Now that you have met Joan and learned about her inspirations, browse Red Horse Studio website and enjoy her work that so beautifully reflects Vermont.

And, as an added bonus, I'm going to be doing a giveaway of 6 of Joan’s lovely note cards.  If you'd like to enter, please leave your name in the comments. The lucky winner will be announced on October 26, 2011.

Vermont is an incredible place thanks to people like Joan Harlowe who gain their inspiration from the land and who work hard to preserve it as well.

cindy murphy
10/20/2011 5:50:40 AM

Hi, Mountain Woman. The way I picture Vermont is through your words and photos, and it's a beautiful place. I also picture it from the stories my Mom told me when, way back in the 50s, she and some of her work buddies drove out there in autumn for a girls' vacation. Such an adventure they had! One day I'd like to experience it myself. Feel better soon. Cindy


nebraska dave
10/18/2011 8:59:23 PM

MW, when I think of Vermont, I think of rolling hills and lots of trees. I think of folks like you and MM that live back in them thar hills and have animals and build, make, or grow just about every thing they need. I think of Vermont as a place where the small farm still flourishes and neighbors still help each other out. When I think of Vermont I think of wooden covered bridges with streams flowing under them. When I think of Vermont, I think of lots of snow in the winter and plenty of cold weather. Speaking of cold weather, out first frost of the fall is supposed to happen tonight. I'm ready for this year to be finished. I'm glad to see it come so I can kick back and rest a spell; read some garden magazines; plan some garden beds; and work on some unfinished inside projects for the winter. I just might try to get back into baking some bread this winter. Have a great fall day on Red Pine Mountain.


mountain woman
10/18/2011 6:20:08 AM

Susan, I love our maple syrup too. It's lots of fun to participate in sugaring as well. Thanks for visiting me!


susan r.
10/18/2011 5:12:30 AM

When I think of Vermont, I think of maple syrup! The best maple syrup comes from Vermont (in my opinion).