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The Social Language of Horses in Watercolor

City of West Chicago

     Gallery 200 member artist Kristine Plum enjoys melding the philosophy and technique of two very distinct master teachers into a style of watercolor which is all her own. The Des Plaines resident is the featured artist for the month of May at West Chicago's Gallery 200, located at 200 Main Street

     Formally trained at the American Academy of Art in downtown Chicago, Plum studied under well-known watercolorist Irving Shapiro where she learned the craft through the careful studies of sketches of her subject. Painting from an existing visual was Shapiro's method and her first introduction to the medium of watercolor. Experimenting with oils, acrylics and other media at the Academy, Shapiro's influence and Plum's enjoyment with watercolor convinced her that it was her medium of choice.

Following a five-year career as a graphic artist, and later a 15-year hiatus from her art during which she stayed home to raise her two children and tend to other family matters, Plum went back for additional classes to refresh and refine her skills in watercolor. Thelma Spain, a prominent watercolor teacher in Arlington Heights, taught Plum the technique of "memory-painting" which requires the artist to use total recall of a subject from memory or imagination and connect the image in the mind to the paper. "It was coming at the subject from a different perspective," said Plum, "and it taught me a new skill."

Plum loves working with color and often uses a darker wash and then uses clear water to mold and shape the still wet paint on heavy watercolor paper. Using horses, floral and landscapes as subjects gives her different avenues with which to play with warm and cool colors.

City SealShe finds inspiration in the beauty of horses. "I aspire to capture the horse/owner relationship and facial expressions of horses in intimate settings with their handlers. I've been a horse-owner for almost 20 years, and have seen that horses have a social language of their own," Plum said. "Most horse owners know their horses' facial and bodily expressions just like most people can read their dogs' emotions. I strive to capture this special relationship that horses and people have together, whether at a horseshow, or in their back yard with an older horse that has been cherished for 25 or more years."

City SealPlum also focuses on "saucer magnolias" in order to play with the effect of warm and cool colors as they interact, receding and proceeding with each other on the white petals. Leaving some of the painting process to chance lets the unexpected work in her favor and ignites effects she says she couldn't have planned.

Her landscapes have been inspired by the north woods of Wisconsin. Some of Plum's older paintings have been from memory, and she admits she has let the painting lead the way. "There are intimate moments to portray everywhere, whether with animals, flowers or landscapes," she said.

Plum's work will be on exhibit at Gallery 200 in downtown West Chicago, located at 200 Main Street, for the month of May beginning on Friday, May 5, 2012, when a free Opening Reception is scheduled from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.


  • City Hall

    475 Main Street

    West Chicago, IL 60185

  • Rosemary Mackey

  • Phone:
    (630) 293-2200 x139


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