Hayling Island equine artist captures beloved animals on paper
As her pony trots around the paddock, Kate Spratt is watching closely. The wind flutters in its mane as Kate studies the way it moves, its anatomy and its features.
Kate knows when she is back in her studio with her Caran D'Ache Luminance pencils in hand, she wants to make her wildlife sketches and pony portraits as accurate and detailed as possible.
She smiles and says: ‘This artwork combines my two passions: wildlife and drawing.’
Kate, 38, from Hayling Island, is a leading equine artist bringing joy to her pet-owner clients from across the world with her highly-detailed artworks.
From springer spaniels to cockapoos, and owls to her beloved horses, mum-of-two Kate has the ability to turn her hand to almost every creature her clients desire.
She says: ‘I have always been artistic. I went to Havant College and studied art, design and technology.
‘But when I left I worked as a secretary at Hayling Island Sailing Club.
‘When I had my first son Harry in 2009, I started to miss my horses.
‘When I was pregnant, I couldn’t ride as much and then had to stop riding.
‘I decided to start drawing in the winter when it was miserable outside and I couldn’t do much.
‘I used pencils because I didn’t want paint fumes in the house and they were easy to pick up and put back down when I needed to.
‘I started sketching horses because I missed being at the yard.’
As well as drawing from a young age, Kate has also worked with horses since she can remember.
‘My mum tells me that riding is in the blood,' she says.
‘I was always captivated by horses and then I had my own when I was 16.’
She was bought her first pony Cara, later named Pig, in 1997 by her parents and she firmly became a member of her family and an inspiration for her artwork.
‘As Cara and I slowly bonded, I renamed her Pig because of her silky muzzle – aka chops, then pork chops, then Pig chops, then just Pig,' explains Kate.
‘She also loved her food, so it all made total sense.
‘The main thing that made our bond so strong was that I knew I could always depend on her. There were numerous times I remember being in a bit of a situation and she knew how to handle things.’
Sadly in October 2019, Pig died at the ripe old age of 28.
Kate says: ‘I would have paid anything to stop time, I would have lived the rest of my life with Pig in a heartbeat. She was such a special girl, to not only me but also a lot of people.
‘For 21 years she was part of our family and we were part of her herd, and I honestly only feel joy and love that we got to spend those years together.’
Kate explains that she has drawn many sketches of her beloved Pig but she loves to draw more than just horses.
‘Horses can be hard to draw to the untrained eye but because I have worked with them for so long I know about the anatomy and structure.
‘What I like about pencil drawings is the detail and precision.
‘When I first started, I looked on Facebook and Instagram and found there weren’t that many pencil artists around.
‘I used it for inspiration and also what materials I should use. I was new to this and didn’t have any more formal training.
‘My most expensive pencil is £2.95 and I get my paper from Italy and America.
‘The time it takes to complete a drawing varies. For example, a cockapoo with curly hair can take ages.
‘But short-haired dogs, such as Jack Russells, are easier.’
Kate explains it takes on average two-three days to complete an A4 piece and her prices start from £190. She has also drawn an equine portrait for dressage Olympic athlete Carl Hester.
‘I’m very grateful that I can do this job.
‘It has great flexibility and I am very lucky,’ she adds.
Today, Kate continues to look after her pony Henry, her two young sons Harry and Blake, and helps out with her husband Chris’s Skyfell Tree Specialists company. But she still loves to sketch animals her clients adore and celebrating the pets which become truly part of the family.
For more information about Kate Spratt’s art or to enquire, go to katesprattart.com.