I came across equestrian artist Lisa Curry Mair of Canvasworks Designs on Instagram (@vtcanvas), and I am head over heels in love with her work. Mair has more than 20 years of experience creating large-scale works of art on canvas. She has painted everything from multi-wall murals, to showcase paintings and wall hangings, to room-size floorcloths.
Moved by the countryside around her and taking inspiration from 18th and 19th century artists, Mair’s work is filled with peaceful scenes of days gone by – an elegant lady gracefully riding aside while out foxhunting, a peaceful scene of a tall ship sailing into a harbor, or a regal portrait of a gentleman and his hunting dog.
Mair began her business 24 years ago by painting canvas floorcloths (rugs). “Floorcloths, also known as “oylcloths,” date back to 15th century France where canvas tapestries were used to cover cold stone floors. The designs often mimicked tile and marble flooring. The basics of a floorcloth haven’t changed much since,” says Mair.
Mair became well-known for her floorcloth work pretty quickly, but she says her true passion is painting horses. “It has been tough to let go of all of that [painting floorcloths]. It got very big. I have a piece in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and was featured on “This Old House.” Magazines like Yankee, Old House Interiors, and Mother Earth News have featured my floorcloth work. I still get regular orders, and they help pay my horse-habit bills, so I take the projects that I like. But I need to make sure I’m making plenty of time to paint horses. That part of my career is fairly young.”
It’s important to Mair to use her talent as an artist to give back to her community. “After Tropical Storm Irene hit us [Vermont] in 2011, and the Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) just up the road from me was devastated, I created a painting of the GMHA. A local printer offered to make it into a poster, and it was sold as a fundraiser. The Chronicle of the Horse used the image on their cover and helped raise more funds for the reconstruction of GMHA’s barns and grounds. That was a pretty proud moment.”
Below are some of Mair’s favorite paintings along with a little background information.
“Mary & Kate” (38” x 50” paint on canvas) My mother, Mary Lawrence Curry, hunted with the Groton Hunt in Massachusetts during the 1950s. She often rode sidesaddle. Kate (show name “Winslet”) is my Hanoverian mare who is currently learning her flying changes, and we’ll soon be competing at Third Level dressage.”
“Ace and Hounds” (36” x 48” painting on canvas) “‘Ace in the Hole’ was a horse my mother owned in the 1990s. He was a wonderful do-anything guy. He was 1/4 Percheron and 3/4 Thoroughbred. He is buried here on our property at Ascutney Notch Farm.”
“Ditch and Away” (36” x 72” painting on canvas) “As often happens, my horse, Kate, takes center stage in this sweeping vista of foxhunters and hounds galloping across the hilly countryside.”
“Village Meet” (36” x 60” painting on canvas) “In this one, I wanted to tie in the community aspects of foxhunting, hence the background village. Notice Kate shows up again!”
“Finally, this is a photo of my studio. Rollie (Rolex) keeps me company. A mural of my town hangs above the fireplace, which shows off one of my fireboards.”
To see more of Mair’s work or to inquire about a project, piece, or print, visit her website here!