It’s common to find photographs of polo scenes everywhere, making it one of the most popular ways to capture moments on the field. However, for artist Claire Fort, her way of immortalizing this wonderful sport is through different strokes and colors.
A self-taught painter with a passion for the high-adrenaline world of polo, her artistic beginnings can be traced back to her childhood. Claire lived on a farm with ponies, thus her natural connections with these beasts. “I always wanted to be a cowboy and spent my evenings and weekends on my pony rounding up sheep and cattle on the farm,” the creative recalls. “I drew and painted horses all the time at home and in school!”
While she did not formally pursue arts as her major, this calling found a way back to her later in her life. Thirteen years ago, she joined an art group and rekindled her love for art. Claire tried playing with watercolor, which has been her medium of art expression.
“I just loved the way paint responds to different types of paper,” she points out. “I love rough paper as the color sinks to the bottom and forms a different shade in the process. The paint reacts to different pigments in the paint, creating surprise effects.”
But incorporating polo into her work came in when she crossed paths with the sport again. “I had watched polo as a young girl in my county of Lincolnshire. But not until my son went to Cirencester, home of a very old polo club, did I rekindle my love of that game, watching the polo on a sunny day,” Claire shares.
Her son-in-law, who takes photographs of polo games, contributed to fanning her fire as well. Those images were then used as the basis for her painting – and before she knew it, painting polo became as addictive as playing the sport itself.
Fast forward to countless artworks later, Claire has told different stories through her pieces. She lets her heart, first and foremost, lead her hands, translating a powerful still into a lively and meaningful portrait. Among her favorites from her string of works is a limited edition print from her original called “Riding Off”.
“It’s just the power in the horse’s hind legs riding off from a standstill after the ball,” she describes the art piece. “The colors came out so well, using some new Schminke paints. Everyone loves it – my cousin even bought it!”
She was also recently inspired to create a painting of three ladies playing polo. “I wanted to find more pictures of women playing polo as they are such incredible people in a male-dominated sport,” she explains. Called “Bustle And Hustle,” the painting on canvas is done “very loosely,” but powerful with thicker paint and big brush strokes.
At present, the artist dips her toes – or hands – in acrylics. Some of her recent works include another polo picture in watercolor and a portrait of her beloved Labrador dog. Soon, Claire plans to come out with landscapes within the year.
For aspiring painters who wish to capture the essence of polo, take it from this creative genius. “My advice for painting polo pictures would be to do lots of sketches and photographs. Then, decide which one really gives you excitement and have a go!” she exclaims.
And while she believes that practice makes perfect, it’s equally important to learn new things all the time. And don’t be afraid if you think you’re running out of time – you aren’t. “I retired at 65 to start my new career of exciting art,” Claire ends.
Photographs courtesy of Claire Fort
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Mariel Abanes is the Managing Editor of POLO LADY Magazine.