catherin river and kitCatherin McMillan has over a dozen years’ experience as a professional portrait artist of both four legged and human subjects.  She has exhibited throughout Australia as well as exhibiting in the USA as part of an Australian/ American joint exhibition. A winner of numerous awards her work can be found in private collections throughout Australia as well as Internationally..  She is the owner of Animal Art House portraits.


Dressage..sigh, what can I say, other than I’m captivated by this sport ..  The bond between rider and horse is just amazing to watch..

Dressage is a sport for me (so my husband tells me) as I am a perfectionist! I am quite happy to chip away at delicate and intricate details for hours until they are just right…  (He says its because I’m a Virgo)  ..

So as a soon to be competing dressage rider we’ll see how my temperament transfers?

What draws me to this sport that makes me watch it for hours? Well for me it is like watching poetry in motion …yes that’s it exactly.  The fluidity of horse and rider the subtle cues used for transitions that appear so effortless and the sense of oneness it creates..  The beautifully prepared horse and immaculate riders..  The freestyle tests where riders choose their own music and movements are not only inspiring to me as a rider but also as an artist.

From This

From This

So my search for inspiration for a new equine series drew to a close..   Dressage seemed the perfect theme, challenging and elegant all at once. Perfect for my black and white watercolours, which are currently my favourite process. Very precise and unforgiving even to the slights indiscretion (like my riding coach!). They take a week or more each to produce and just one slip and you start again.   So that’s where the inspiration for my new dressage series comes from.  Poetry in motion .. the rider and the mount.

I also thought why not try something similar with pastels? It can be created with a little more flair a little freer as well as offering a challenge..   Yes that’s it. There is nothing like a challenge.


Pastels on black paper seemed the perfect choice..  Of course the real dilemma is working out what I should include and what to leave out of the finished drawing. How much I should highlight and how much I should leave to the viewer’s imagination.

Next came the trial of finding the perfect reference to create the first in my new series Poetry In Motion  ..

I’m so fussy when it comes to the images I use for my original work for sale.. I trolled through that many photos that both my hubby and niece had taken.. I almost went cross eyed despairing that I would never find the starting point for my vision..

Then I found just the right one. Boy was that one big happy dance.. .

To This

To This

I decided that I would crop the image and just use the part that showed my vision. Polished top boots, white jodhpurs, the folds in the rider’s jacket all supported the rider’s precision. The poise muscled rump of the horse and those ears listening intently, concentrating on the riders cues shows well the bond with the rider.

I wanted to convey the power of the horse and the stillness of the rider… something I feel I have achieved

This time around I knew it would be good to show you the starting point for the work in a before and after shot..

Alas Poetry In Motion I has found an owner..



Poetry In Motion I (10” x 14”, Pastel on Black paper, SOLD).

Poetry In Motion II the second in this series is now looking for a new home and available for purchase. An image is now on my website the link is below.

I’m looking forward to creating several more in this new series..  So stay tuned to my website for updates of new works.


Catherin McMillan


Original art work for sale

Commissions welcome worldwide.