Got Color?
An Interview with Alexis Burris

by Helen Ranta, Horses In Art Magazine, Winter 2006

       The inimitable choice of color Alexis Burris employs to depict the horse and its environment is atypical of most equestrian paintings. A description of the paintings using only words makes it quite difficult to visualize; a violet muzzle, deep purple flank, navy cheek, orange neck, a red shoulder, lime green pastures, and light purple fence rails. The paintings seem to defy description.

       It is precisely these colors, which one might consider misplaced, that convey the communication between horse and rider by bringing into focus the concentration, the intensity of a moment in a race, or just a peaceful time together. With an innate sense that a certain shade will induce the precise mood, set the stage and evoke a feeling, Alexis arrives at the ideal choice to create the scene.

       Her formal art training began at The Quaeter School of Fine Art and Design, and continued at the University of Arizona with a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts, and a coveted post graduate degree in Interior Architecture from The Royal Copenhagen University of Architecture and Design in Denmark. A successful Interior Architectural Designer in San Diego, California, Alexis Burris has continued her love of art and horses in her fine art. Racehorses and Arabians are the most dominate subjects in her current work.

       Alexis explains, “When I first start thinking about a new painting, I ask myself, what do I really see here… What is important? What grabs me? Sometimes an unusual angle or a shaft of sunlight sparks the beginning of a painting, starts to tell the story. It’s magical to me. I can’t keep my hands out of it, blending the color with my palms and fingers. It’s a tactile experience.”

       She continues, “My colors are a little unusual, or so I’ve been told. When I see a gray horse they can appear to me in violets, pinks, blue violets and magentas. A bay appears to me in deep blue violets and sunlight oranges. I don’t questions my color sense, I let it naturally develop, my job is to let go and let it happen.

       “My intent in my work is to capture a moment, a mere nano-second of the reality in a look, a moment of connection, or a moment of sheer super effort. Certain details are important to me in telling the essence of the story. I love the light playing across the canvas on my colored horses. I adore painting jockey silks. They are a garden of color surrounding those brave riders as they maneuver driving steel and muscle down the track. With brush and paint I accent what inspires me and shift details and color to tell the story I see.”

       Alexis concludes, “The artwork is about the energy I feel and sense from the horse. It is my way of honoring the spirit I see in them.”