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Interview with Dahlov Ipcar, part II

Published: 6/26/2013
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Editor's Note:

Over her 95 years, Dahlov Ipcar has produced an immense feast of fanciful paintings and illustrations. She started young and by age 21, had her own solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. She’s written scores of books and created impressive works of fabric, hooked rug, and needlepoint.

We spoke with this amazing woman at her home last month where she expounded on her affinity for horses, her work habits, and more.
Read Part I

Watch our musical slideshow:

Color Photos by Agnes Moyon, Black & White images courtesy of Charlie Ipcar

Dahlov Ipcar from Maddy Butcher Gray on Vimeo.

NickerNews: Tell me about your riding days.

Ipcar: I would say it was the only outdoor sport I enjoyed. I enjoyed having a horse and riding. We also swam a lot but I never took to boats and I never took to any of this baseball or any of the regular sports.
Chess and horses were the only sports I ever enjoyed.

NickerNews: Have you always been interested in painting horses?

Ipcar: Off and on through my life. I do a horse picture when I feel inspired to do a horse picture. I don’t quite know why…There was something fashionable about being an artist who did horses and I resisted that though I’ve done some nice racehorse pictures.
We used to go to the fairs. My mother and I. My husband and I. I did a lot of sketching of stables and made some nice pictures with the pageantry of it.
The Topsham fair was held in October then…Now it’s held in August to get the tourists but it lacks something when it’s not a harvest fair.
[Ipcar explains that she regularly visited the Topsham and Common Ground fairs.]

Ipcar: I work with lots of sketches and sketchbooks. I use these often with oil paintings. My mother had this method too. She’d make pencil sketches and then use them for oil paintings. For ideas, you’d use parts of them. Parts of sketches are useful. Parts are of no use.
But it’s useful to have the notes on the animals and the colors.
I never liked taking photographs. Somehow the camera doesn’t see what your eye sees. I liked to get what my eye saw. I was always disappointed if you took a camera and took it at the same spot you were looking, you got a different result.

NickerNews:
Do you have to be fond of an animal to paint it?

Ipcar: I don’t know. Horses are very impressive and beautiful…I remember someone who was blind and then when they could see a horse, they were so disappointed. They thought it would be much more beautiful than it was. But they must have looked at the wrong kind of a horse.

Photo at right by Eric Schaal, Life Magazine

...Riding here, you run out of interesting trails very rapidly. You’d like to go further. But I never got real journeys with horses. To get to Brunswick was about as far as I ever got.
We always got to Bath. We always had to cross (the Kennebec River, which is nearly a mile wide in Bath). We started on ferries. I can’t remember taking the horse on ferries, but we must have because we had to take the horse to the blacksmith. The blacksmith was in Brunswick. They didn’t come to you in those days.
…There were several bridges. There were cars on the roads and the roads weren’t as wide. But people were a little more aware of horses. I think a lot of people still had horses when we first came here. There were a lot of people who drove horses in buggies.

Read Part I

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7/3/2013 Barbara Barran
I've had the pleasure of working with Dahlov Ipcar, translating her work into rugs and pillows. When we started work on the "Calico Jungle" series, the artist insisted that I include a horse, and so I did. You can see it at ShopClassicRug dot com.

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