Horses have been Marlene Pegg’s lifelong passion. From the time she was a child she was drawn to horses and always dreamed of a career with horses.
“But at that time horses were on their way out, machines were replacing them on the ranches and farms in Alberta where I grew up,” she said.
“But I still believed there was a place for the horse.”
Based on that belief, Pegg put out her shingle as a horse trainer and built her business from there.
“I raised my children on the income from horse training,” she said.
For Pegg it was a dream career.
She was trained in all aspects of applied horsemanship, all breeds, all applications but always maintained she learned most of what she needed to know from the horse.
“I always got to know the horse first and my style was a gentle style,” she said.
“I always thought I was training the horse but actually I was training the rider to understand the horse.”
Four years ago, Pegg put a saddle on a horse for the last time. Her back had given out and she could no longer practice the career that meant so much to her.
“But when one door closes, another opens,” she said with a smile.
“I picked up a paint brush.”
And Pegg has never looked back.
She now devotes her time to her new passion, painting and sketching horses, cowboys and the western way of life.
Pegg prefers to paint with acrylics which she finds allows for the layering and dimensional affect she loves. She also creates pencil drawings which she says allows her to learn between the two media.
“What I learn in acrylics I can apply in pencil drawing and that applies between the two media,” she said.
Her paintings and drawings are filled with action, personality and exquisite detail that draws the viewer into the scene. That also holds true for the artist.
“Each horse I paint conjures up the smell, the feel and the personality of the horse,” she said.
“Each animal is different and I strongly sense that when I’m painting.”
Pegg admitted she struggled with portraits until she began applying the same intensity of looking at her subject as she does with horses, then portraits came much easier to her.
Although she can no longer ride, Pegg feels blessed to still live the ranching way of life and wake up every morning to see horses and solitude, both vitally important to her.
When the family moved to B.C. in the 1980s, Pegg felt, for the first time, she learned about the real life of a horse where horses were valued and still an integral part of the ranching life, unlike Alberta where everything was mechanized.
“The more you work with a horse
the more it appreciates, the more you work with a machine the more it depreciates,” she said with
a big grin.
Surrounded by family, Pegg is pleased to see three of her granddaughters have her passion for horses and two for painting. She also has great grand babies and is waiting to see what they bring to the world.
Pegg has created a catalogue of her work which is available in prints as well as original paintings.
As you turn the pages of her catalogue she can talk about every horse and every cowboy she’s captured in her art, truly a personal odyssey.
“Even though I can’t ride anymore, I couldn’t imagine a life without horses,” she said.
“I’m lucky in my western, clean, healthy life.”
Her show Cowboys, Horses and the Western Life is hanging in the Quesnel Art Gallery at the Arts and Recreation Centre for the month of July.
Her show opening is tonight, July 8, 7 – 9 p.m. in the gallery.
The show sponsor is the Quesnel Rodeo Club.