February 6, 2011

Bob Keyes: A career takes off at a gallop

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Sarah Lynn Richards, who specializes in equestrian art, in her Bristol studio. Richards was selected as the official artist of the Kentucky Derby.

Gordon Chibroski

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The original art by Sarah Lynn Richards that was chosen as the poster for this year’s Derby Festival.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

After searching her soul, Richards answered that question in the affirmative. At first, she decided to put her counseling career on the back-burner. She would return to it if art did not work out.

But as we now know, her art worked out just fine -- so well that Todd also quit his job and became his wife's business partner and manager. She handles everything creative; he does most of the other work. An assistant, Carol Krajnik, also helps with framing.

Richards credits her husband for building her name and her art into a commercial brand. "Doing the painting is easy. What comes next is a lot of work, and Todd does it all."

Their efforts culminated with her painting being chosen for the Derby Festival poster.

Richards actually created two images for the derby. One is the Derby Festival poster, a horizontal image that features three horses in her distinctive, soft style. The first is a thoroughbred race horse, running hard. The second is another thoroughbred with a bridle and saddle. The third is a vision of the winged horse Pegasus taking off; the pegasus is the symbol for the event.

Richards renders her paintings in a style that is loose and lively. She outlines her horses in thin lines of dark paint, and colors only portions of her animals, usually in purple, black and brown, with bits of gold paper here and there. She leaves most of her horses' bodies uncolored, and concentrates on getting their proportions and positioning just right.

She can't afford to have a leg out of place or a joint turned in an unnatural position. Horse lovers know the difference between right and wrong.

The Derby poster will be widely distributed and available on everything from T-shirts and tote bags to coffee mugs and julep glasses. A limited edition print of just the pegasus also is available.

Richards and her husband will return to Kentucky before the festival to participate in parades, parties, meet-and-greets and other events. Richards is training to participate in the Derby half-marathon as well.

She plans to immerse herself and do her best to soak up and enjoy everything. She will pinch herself when necessary.

"Everything is bigger down there. Everything is bigger," she said. "I've signed stuff before, so I am used to that. But I've never experienced anything quite like this. This will be a whole other level for me." 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:


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