The first thing that comes to mind when viewing Mirelle Veger’s equine portraits is that she must somehow capture the spirit of the horse, then let it go free on her canvas, while using her paint brushes to portray everything that makes the horse so special to us. Creating her portraits by using the same painting techniques from the Old Master painters of the 17th century, Mirelle’s elegant use of light, color and knowledge from spending years with horses makes her stand out in the equine art world. Within each brush stroke is years of practice, persistence, and a bit of the heart and soul that Mirelle pours into all of her works. Currently working in her home studio in the East of the Netherlands, Mirelle has always had a fondness for horses since she was a little girl. She pursued graphic design and worked for several design agencies as well as starting her own company before becoming a full time equine artist. A passionate and creative entrepreneur, Mirelle, excels at her mediums of oils and acrylics, while spending time with her young son and family.
Born: 28th of February, 1975
The Flying Shetlands: How long have you been an equine artist?
Mirelle Vegers: I have been drawing horses since I was 6 years old and I have been painting them since I was about 20 years old ( I am now 42). I have been a professional equine artist since 2011.
TFS: What inspires and motivates you?
MV: First of all, it’s the horse itself that inspires me to paint and draw them. They are magnificent beings to me and I love the mystery of my fascination with them. I do not know exactly why but my heart just skips a beat when I hear the sound hooves on stone or concrete road.
Everything about them is attractive. The smell of their skin, the fur, how it feels to the touch. To be on them and being allowed to ride them. To enjoy the world from a horses back. It is an ancient connection and I have felt it ever since I was born.
Second, I am inspired by creativity and creation. Art, music, artists of all kinds. It lights up a fire inside of me and creates a deep urge to start making something, create something…
And it so happens I am not too bad at painting and expressing my emotions, feelings, so that is what I do and who I am.
TFS: What mediums do you work in?
MV: At the moment I work with oil on panel, acrylics for underpainting and some pieces I still create on linen or canvas.
TFS: Are there an mediums that you would like to work in, but haven’t yet?
MV: Oh yes, I would love to sculpt and mould horses. Stone, clay, bronze…
TFS: Is you family involved in horses or art?
MV: My mother is a wizard with food/cooking, my dad is a musician and photographer at heart and my brother is a singer and musician next to his job in 3D printing. I have a niece who is into horses. And I had an aunt who was a painter.
So not quite like me but still very much creative.
TFS: What is your favorite thing about the art you do?
MV: Getting all excited about a new reference image and having the painting already painted in my head. And then start at it! That excitement and thrill I feel then is my inner secret pleasure moment.
Further more I get to live my life without working a single day. I do what I love and love what I do. I feel very privileged that I can make a lot of people very happy with my ability to create. And getting to cuddle horses for a living isn’t too bad either.
TFS: What’s a typical day in your studio like?
MV: Walking in after getting my son into school and feeling right at home “I am back”. And then try not to get stuck behind the computer. Not let social media and email distract me. It’s a task, I tell you! I get to work on what needs to be done that day. I do love to start the day with just painting for an hour or two. Then get stuck into all the computer and design work that might need to be done. And spend to much time on emails and such…
Before I know it, it’s time to close up again and I wonder where the day went… Pick up my son and go on with all the private stuff.
TFS: How do you start a painting?
MV: Getting my painting shirt on, it is an old shirt of my partner, Jeffrey. And turning on the music that most connects with me at that moment to get into the ‘zone’. I set up the painting that I feel I want to do at that moment. Set up my stuff, start singing and go with the flow.
TFS: Any current WIPs?
MV: A few commissions and I have finished a few pieces of my own which I am to take with me to two bigger art shows this weekend and next month.
TFS: How would someone go about commissioning you to create a painting?
MV: Just read my website and contact me through phone, messenger, whatsapp, email… It is easier when you know the basics first tho, if price range and my work method suits you. I do not mind answering any and all questions when you are already aware of what my work is about and who I am. It is time consuming to have to answer first what it will all cost and what to do… it is there on my website and this makes first contact a lot smoother.
Then I like to have a personal conversation on what it is that you are looking for in the artwork and who is the subject.
Mostly we get on the same page in one meeting. Some folks already know what they want, if they do not then I am here to help. When I feel I can comply to your wishes, we go ahead.
We then agree on size, medium, photography (if needed) and price.
I prefer to meet the horse(s) in question. If I can meet you at your location, I will. Even when it’s abroad, if the travel fee / ticket / stay are paid for.
If that is not possible to meet the horse then you can show me pictures and video’s, tell me about the horse and we can go from there.
When I start work, I will keep you posted on the process through Whatsapp or email or messenger. Whatever you prefer.
TFS: How would you describe your art style?
MV: Figurative, realism, fine art.
I do feel it is kind of modern as well, as in composition and lay out choices.
TFS: Have you ever taken lessons from another artist or gone to art school?
MV: I have never been to art school. I did have lessons (about 60 hours) from a wonderful artist, Paul van Ernich. He creates still lifes and other works with a 17th century slant, in the technical and thematic sense. It has lifted me to my next level and I love it.
TFS: Any future shows/exhibits?
MV: I will be attending my first big Art show in Amsterdam on the 13th till the 15th of October, https://www.adaf.nl/home-visit.
And I will be at the Kunstraffinaderij in Nijmegen on the 24th till the 26th of November this year (2017).
TFS: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
MV: A graphic designer or be on stage or doing something with the English language…
TFS: Do you ride horses?
MV: Yes! When ever someone offers me a horse. I have about 18 years of riding experience. I love to ride outdoors.
TFS: What have been your biggest challenge so far in your art career?
MV: Getting my own studio, finding my way to MY art. Who am I as an artist and why.
Balancing art with the business side of being an artist.
Oh and doing all this and also be a mum, a partner, a daughter, a good friend, an inspirer, an adviser, a good sport and then mainly MYSELF.
TS: What has been your greatest success so far in your art career?
MV: Selling my own art and being able to keep going as a pro.
TFS: Any advice to other artists?
MV: This is a marathon, not a sprint. You will have to stick with it if you want to make it. The creation business is a funny business and very different to any other.
Learn to do your own marketing and stay as authentic as you possibly can even tho you have to make a living somehow.
Selling your art is what you want in the end so do not be afraid to be a bit commercial. Just as long as you do not sell out.
TFS: Thank you for letting me interview you, Mirelle! Best of luck at your exhibits and future commissions.