Meet The Equine Artist Who Is Helping The Wild Horses Of America Through Art

Linda Briesacher may have only started painting four years ago, but she has already made huge leaps in terms of both her art career and helping America’s Wild Mustangs through her art. Residing just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, she creates her soft, dreamy and light-filled paintings with a goal in mind: help keep the dream of the freedom of the wild mustangs a reality, and she is doing just that.

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I’m excited that I have the opportunity to interview Linda and find out the stories behind her art and love of the Wild Horses. 100% of her earnings from her art goes directly to organizations that are on the front lines of keeping the wild horses safe on their land and away from slaughter plants. Wild Horse Warriors of the Sand Wash Basin, The Cloud Foundation, Alberta Society for Wild Horses are some of the organizations that have benefited from this artist’s perseverance and dedication to her art. Read on to discover more about Linda and her glorious paintings featuring, of course, wild horses!

The first thing you should know is that I am passionate about wild horses. They are beautiful, majestic, fierce, gentle, family oriented, and in danger of vanishing forever. That is a thought I find completely unacceptable. And, that’s why I paint wild horses and donate the proceeds from the sales of my paintings to support the groups who work to protect and keep them safe. Simple as that.

 

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Art Of The Horse: What inspired you to start painting later in life? Did you ever draw or paint before?

Linda Briesacher : As I approached retirement, I really thought about what I would like to do going forward. I wanted to make sure that I would continue to have engaging and enjoyable activities in my life. With that in mind I did two things pretty much around the same time. First, I signed up for beginner painting lessons, and second I bought a piano. My husband and I had collected art for a long time, and I thought I would try my hand at creating a bit of my own. And I had played piano when I was a kid, so I thought I would see if I could pick it up again.

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My first painting lesson was September 8, 2014. I won’t ever forget the day. I was very excited about it. I had not painted or drawn since I was a kid. My teacher’s name was Vic Mastis, a local artist and co-owner of the Green Door Art Gallery. When it came time to actually lay down that first brush stroke I actually got tears in my eyes I was so happy. I continued lessons with Vic, and she and I became very good friends and remain so today. Initially I attempted to paint landscapes and still life. But within that first month I decided to try my hand at animals. The first was a cow, followed shortly thereafter by a horse. With the animals I was off and running. Painting them just made me happy, and it still does.

I didn’t fare as well with the piano. I took lessons for about three years, but I wasn’t very good at it. And my piano was situated so that my easel was directly in my line of sight. Often, when I was practicing, I would find myself wishing I were painting instead. When I got to the end of the spring semester in 2018 I made the decision to sell my piano and concentrate on painting.

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AOTH: What mediums do you work in? Are there any you would like to try?

LB: I started learning to paint in oils and painted with them for about a year. In the summer of 2015, I took the workshop with phenomenal artist Bob Bertram at the AKC Museum of the Dog. The museum did not want the solvents, etc. in the building so we used acrylics. I really enjoyed the acrylics and continued to paint with them until a few months ago. I liked not having to use solvents, and I learned to paint in lots of very thin layers in order to achieve the effect of “blending” that comes so naturally in oils. But then last winter I decided to try water based oils, and I love them! Now I have that wonderful blending ability without the solvents. I love painting to wet into wet and enjoy the lusciousness of the paint.

I haven’t really thought about trying other mediums. I have so much to learn with the medium(s) I use now. I’ve been experimenting lately with different color palettes and also really focusing on improving my values — light and shadow — to add more emotion to my work.

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AOTH: What percentage of your sales goes to help the wild horses of America? What charities do you give to?

LB: I started painting for the wild horses in March/April of 2018. By the end of last year, I had sold nearly $4,000 in paintings, and my donations to the horses exceeded that. So all of my proceeds are donated to support and protect our wild horses. Occasionally, I do keep back a small amount for frames, but then I end up donating on my own to the groups as “emergencies” come up, so it ends up being 100% and more. So far this year I’ve sold about $1,200 in paintings and by the end of this month, when a painting comes out of layaway, that will all have been donated. I realize that these are not earth shattering amounts, but I feel good about $5,000 for a first full year effort. I hope it continues to grow.

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I’ve contributed the most to the Wild Horse Warriors of the Sand Wash Basin. We are very fortunate to have these dedicated people who work so hard for the safety of that herd, AND take glorious photos of the horses. I could not do what I do without them giving me permission to use their photos as references. Christine Beaumont, Nadja Rider, and Meg Frederick have all been extremely kind in allowing me to do this.

I was able to spend one glorious day in the Basin last October with Cindy Harms Wright and Aletha Dove of Wild Horse Warriors Tours. If anyone is planning a visit to Colorado and would like to explore the Basin and see the horses, I highly recommend you contact them. You won’t be sorry, and you will be helping to support the horses!

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The other groups I have donated to over the past year include the Alberta Society for Wild Horses, from paintings based on the wonderful photos taken by June Fox, and The Cloud Foundation with a painting I did from a photo by Ann Nguyen.

It’s really important to give these folks credit. They are “feet on the ground” working hard with the BLM, darting programs, building awareness, keeping us updated on what’s happening with the horses, and sharing their beauty with us through their wonderful photos.

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AOTH: How did you get the idea to help wild horses through your art?

BL: In March 2018 I found a photo of the Sand Wash Basin stallion Picasso. I saw, and still do see, so much wisdom in his eyes. He touched me. He is reported to be nearly 30 years old and has seen so much in his long life. It shows in his eyes, and I fell in love. I wanted to learn more about him and came across The Wild Horses of the Sand Wash Basin Facebook page. This led me to the Wild Horses for the Sand Wash Basin page. I started “meeting” the members as I sought permission to use their photos as references. The more I learned about what they were doing, the more I wanted to help.

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I wondered if I could sell the paintings I was doing of the wild ones. I chatted with these folks online and floated the idea. I really didn’t know if it would work or not. I haven’t been painting that long. I haven’t won any awards. I’m not in any galleries. But I figured nothing ventured nothing gained, so I set up my Facebook art page last March and went about trying to get the word out and sell some paintings. It’s really important to me to recognize the people who follow my art page. There are 1,500 of them now. It’s an active little community, and I’ve gotten to “know” some really great people through that page. It’s a lot of fun having people along for the ride and I am grateful to them for being part of it. Nearly all of my sales have came through the folks on that page. Let’s face it; I can paint all the pictures I want to, but if nobody buys them, it doesn’t do anything for the horses. It takes a village.

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AOTH: Who is your favorite artist?

LB: I don’t know that I can name a single favorite artist. I really love the western, southwestern, Native American and wildlife art. Some of my favorite “larger than life” artists include Greg Beecham, Mark Maggiori, and Jason Rich. I actively follow 100 or more artists including Amanda Cowan, Toby Sauer, Carolyn Sinclair and JD Davis. I have been fortunate enough to collect work by some of them. It seems like I run across new (to me) artists nearly every day. Social media has been amazing for that. The groups, the pages, the Instagram feeds lead me to new artists nearly every day. I spend a lot of time looking at art when I’m not painting myself. It really helps me to learn by studying what I see other artists do in their work.

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AOTH: Do you ride horses?

BL: I grew up on the back of a horse. I started riding when I was about 7 and it was a huge part of my life until I was about 20. Then I went away to school, and after that work and life happened and I haven’t owned a horse since. My mother was always very active in the horse world; she was an AQHA judge, and she and her husband raised and kept horses until his passing a few years ago. So though I haven’t had horses myself for many years, I have had access to them for most of my life. And I guess most importantly, I never stopped loving them.

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AOTH: Any inspiring words for other artists?

BL: Gosh, I don’t know if I feel qualified to give advice to other artists. Nearly all of the artists I know and/or follow are so much more accomplished than I am. I guess if there are people out there who are just getting started or who are thinking they might want to try, I would say go for it. Painting has brought me so much joy and has added so much to my life. Sometimes I lament the fact that I didn’t start doing this until I was 60 years old. But I am a believer in “things happen when they are supposed to.” If I had tried to paint earlier in my life and loved it as much as I do now, it would have been hard to find a balance between my career (making a living) and painting. As it is now, I can spend a LOT of time painting. I guess you are never too old.

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AOTH: What has been your proudest moment as an artist?

BL: I hope that my proudest moment(s) are yet to come, but some of the ones that have made me extremely happy over the past year include having paintings accepted into the American Academy of Equine Art Showcase last spring, and the National Oils and Acrylics Painters Society show last fall. I was also really excited to have a painting auctioned through Wild Horse Warriors Auctions last fall. And then you contacted me about doing this interview, Shya Beth, and that’s a really thrilling thing for me. I’m pretty much a newbie artist, so this is very cool. I am grateful to you for reaching out, and hope it helps to create awareness about the wild horses. Thank you!

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Thank you, Linda for letting me interview you about your paintings and a big thank you for helping our wild horses – we need more kind, supportive and ACTIVE people like you!

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