[Wellington, FL] Walt Peterson is a gifted portrait artist who specializes in realistic paintings of people, pets and horses. In the spring of 2014, Peterson and his brother Rob attended a party that kicked off the festivities of The 5th Annual Gay Polo Week at the home of Bruce Duchossois in Wellington, FL.

“Upon learning of Walt’s talent as an equestrian artist, took Walt and me for a tour of his wonderful home and the pointed out artwork he had collected,” said Rob Peterson. “He had a warmth and sincerity about him that you generally don’t encounter in a first meetings with people. Throughout that weekend, I would notice Bruce smiling at Walt’s art on exhibit.”

The artist and his brother met with a portrait client at one of the festivities later in the week. Walt Peterson had painted a portrait of trainer, Tom Matthews jumping a hunter named, Firestone. He named the portrait, “Completely Composed.”

“Bruce approached us at the event,” said Walt. “We introduced Bruce to Tom. As he gazed at the painting of Matthews and Firestone he said, ‘I don’t know when I’ve ever been so moved by a work of art like this!’ He turned to me and said, ‘We need to do this –  I will be in touch.’

This began Peterson’s very brief friendship with Bruce Duchossois.  Duchossois would commission Peterson to paint him, jumping one of his favorite hunters named Hello Kitty.

Over the next months Duchossois and Peterson became better acquainted.  Peterson made several trips to Wellington to Duchossois’ residence where he would complete a photo shoot and color study of Duchossois and his beautiful hunter Hello Kitty.  Duchossois gave Peterson his input on how to best craft and style the painting to his liking.

2140Peterson at work on the portrait

“I remained in close communication with Bruce, updating him as he began to layout the canvas to ensure all the details were covered,” said Walt Peterson.  “Once Bruce was comfortable on all points, I began to create. Several weeks into Bruce’s painting, I received an unexpected call.  I learned that Bruce had passed away.”

Unable to paint, Peterson mourned the loss of his client and new friend for several days. Then, he resumed work to honor Duchossois’ spirit and one of the industry’s greatest horsemen.  Now complete, the painting is a timeless classic that serves as a powerful memory of one man’s passion.

“It is bittersweet,” said Peterson. “I am deeply honored to have painted such an icon of the industry but also so sad to see him go. I hope he is smiling down upon this painting of him and his lovely horse.”

Although Peterson did not get to know Duchossois as well as he would have liked, it was clear that the equestrian world was all-consuming in his life, both his personal participation and his dedication to a variety of related causes. As suggested by his brother Rob Peterson, he titled the portrait “His World.”

2143“His World” by Walt Peterson

 -By Carrie Wirth for Phelps Media Group