The process of portraying the theme of horses continues to evolve in my work. My art retains a sense of experimentation, and working in a series I focus on a particular way the application of acrylic paint reveals the desired outcome. A variation of the process motivates the next series of paintings.
Horses are amazing creatures of physical beauty and strength, spirit and sensitivity. Breaking away from reality, my art combines abstract and realistic elements. I filter out superfluous details and portray horses in their clear essence – their spirits and souls, their energy, movement and physical presence.
Beginning with a textured surface and a simple line drawing, I pour and drip paint, spray water, and manipulate the pigments with a palette knife – move, scrape off, and add more paint. Sometimes I work the canvas flat on a table and sometimes the surface is upright, each method achieving different effects. The spontaneous drips and splashes, marks, and delicate lines combine to allow the animal’s form to take shape. In black and white or color, inner meanings and emotions are manifested.
The horse’s image emerges, seemingly left unfinished, to allow the viewer room for personal interpretation. By reducing my paintings to their most essential elements, I say everything I need to say about the horse – render what has truly impassioned me.
“Sometimes the ‘unfinished’ is an experiment that pushes boundaries.”
“Carol Santora is attracted to the pure spirit of animals… no other subject has ever called to her in the same way that animals do,” writes Bridget Burns of Seacoast Media Group.
Carol Santora is a multi-disciplinary artist, best known for her contemporary expressionist and soulful equine and animal paintings. She has always loved animals and her fascination with the grace and beauty of horses has greatly influenced her artistic path.
Her first recollection of her passion for art was watching ‘Learn to Draw with John Gnagy’ on Saturday mornings as a child. Hours were spent with his kits drawing in charcoal. Her first attempt at equine art was drawing Pegasus and unicorns using his methods.
After high school, Santora went on to become a registered nurse; however she took oil painting workshops whenever she could.
When asked to bring to class a photo of something she didn’t think she could paint but truly wanted to paint, Santora brought a picture of her first dog, Flossie – a wedding gift from her husband, David. After that first successful animal painting, Santora realized she had a special gift for animal portraiture, and she began doing portraits of dogs and her collector’s other pets. As her career and reputation have advanced, her animal subjects have expanded to include big cats, select wildlife, as well as domestic subjects including the horses, which have been the primary focus in her paintings since 2005.
Completing an associate degree in 1985 and then her BFA, summa cum laude, at Framingham State University several years later, Santora progressed from oils and watercolors to a divided passion for painting in acrylic and soft pastel.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Santora and her husband moved permanently to Maine in 2005. It was then that she had the opportunity to work with mustangs at a local rescue, and learn first-hand about horses. At the end of five years, Santora was at the rescue four days a week, and had learned to gentle and train mustangs, working with two different mares.
Santora went on to help at a private barn and developed an especially close bond with one of the mares, Ruby. After 3 months the owner, who had observed that growing bond, gifted the mare to Carol and she now owned her first horse. Santora continued to help out where Ruby was boarded for another year, but visiting her horse for a couple of hours every day wasn’t enough to fill her need to be with her girl and to paint her. Ultimately, Santora and her husband sold their Kennebunk, ME home and gallery to buy a farm and bring Ruby home.
Since her move to Maine, Santora has focused on painting equine subjects, including commissions in both acrylic and pastel from owners of pet, show and race horses.
Santora is a studio painter and rarely creates finished paintings on location, but sketches, photographs and observes animals, acquires impressions and feelings, and makes a connection with the animals wherever she is.
Among her many awards and achievements, Santora has earned signature status in the Pastel Society of America and associate status in the Society of Animal Artists.
An artist for over 35 years, Santora has exhibited in numerous shows, museums and galleries across the country and in Europe. She has been represented by various galleries across the US, and has work in public and private collections all over the world, including a significant commission for the 12 million-dollar renovation of the historic Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, CA.
Her work has been selected to represent animal advocacy agencies including the Texas Dispute Resolution System Offices, Lubbock, TX. Notable recent exhibitions include solo exhibitions at The Wright Gallery, where her work has been represented for over 10 years, ‘Black and White,’ a national juried show at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC) in NY, and ‘Environmental Impact,’ a traveling museum exhibition curated by David Wagner, LLC.
Currently, Santora is represented by galleries in Maine, Arizona and New Hampshire. She maintains a working studio at her Lyman, ME, residence where she lives with her husband David, their three quarter horse mares Ruby, Mimi, and Trixie, and their two canine rescues, Dixie and Biscuit.
Portfolio 2 pdf