I first started drawing horses as a child in my hometown of Dunkirk, New York. My love of art comes from my love of horses. During my childhood, I never owned a horse, so I had to look for horses in pastures to pet, or hang out at the county fairgrounds barn where Standardbreds and riding horses were boarded. At this time, I lived with my grandparents. Their home was across the street from the fairgrounds. In the mornings, I could watch the race horses training on the track, and after school, I would be at the barns to either hand graze a horse or draw my favorite horses. After showing some interest in art, my Grandfather bought me my first oil paints and made me canvases from cardboard covered with cheesecloth soaked in a plaster-like solution.
During my time on Long Island, New York, I did oil portraits of horses, raised four children, many pets, several horses and, when my husband, an equine veterinarian needed an extra hand, I would help him on farm calls with children in tow!
After moving to Newton, New Jersey in 1980, I made my art a profession, first oil painting portraits of horses, then teaching myself to sculpt. I love to sculpt all breeds; it becomes a constant learning experience. A sculpture should also tell a story. The "Lost Hound" bronze is a real story. While on a hunt in northwestern, New Jersey, a hound wandered into a swamp area and couldn't get out. We could not see him, only hear his howls. One of the hunt followers waded into the cold water and was able to get the hound to follow him out. I took the picture of the huntsman looking for his hound and, therefore, the idea for the sculpture, "The Lost Hound."
Lately, I've become interested in historical work and have sculpt a Civil War piece (Going Home), Joan of Arc, and recently started a Russian Troika. I have the center horse finished, but need to do more research to finish it with the two outside horses, and a sleigh with Borzois hounds in it. Like I said before, it's a constant learning experience. I research every piece I do, and I went to a carriage museum in Pennsylvania to take pictures and notes on a real Troika harness.
Besides doing my own limited edition work, I've done trophies for horse shows. For example, Fair Hill International, Festival of Champions, Gladstone Driving, a memorial on Long Island, also the World Championship Singles Driving Trophy for Gladstone Driving, but unfortunately the show was cancelled because of the West Nile Virus. I've done commissioned bronze portraits and freelance sculpture for companies who produce and market it in porcelains or resins; The Franklin Mint, Brielle Gallery, Austin Productions, Stallions U.S.A., Sam's Celestial Treasures, All Things Equine, Bow River Jewelry and Oklahoma Casting. I have exhibited my work at many art shows and have several awards including the AAEA Founders Award 1997.
I still have my horses on my property which is surrounded by State land and plenty of trails. I feel so lucky to be able to ride my horse out in the woods, which gives me peace of mind and helps me to think of a new sculpture. My horses are also my models, and it's wonderful to be able to watch them from my worktable. There is nothing as good as the real thing. I've ridden my Thoroughbred dressage, and my Quarter Horse in pleasure and trail horse classes, but to see them playing and running at liberty in the pasture is a beautiful picture.
NANCY WEIMER BELDEN
17 Dove Island Rd. <> Newton, N.J. 07860 <> 973.383.8840
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