Nearly a year ago, local equestrian Anita Will opened up an art gallery in the halls behind Urban Basics in Battle Ground. On display are canvases bearing landscapes and cars, but most prominently featured is Will’s greatest passion — horses.
Will has been around horses and art her entire life, with her grandfather teaching her to draw horses and other animals before she was in kindergarten.
“I would drive my grandfather crazy about drawing a horse,” she said. “And he could draw horses and other animals and stuff. So, he showed me how to draw and it just went on from there.”
Will never put down the pencil from there — admitting she would sometimes get in trouble in class for drawing — and began to dabble with painting when she was a teenager. Her choice medium is acrylic.
Will’s lifelong habit for drawing and painting houses was prompted by more than just her grandfather.
“I have had ponies and horses since I was three,” Will said, later adding that although she likes to have a reference point, she can paint a horse she’s conjured in her mind. She does not use a projector and does all of her painting freehand.
Aside from the horses she stables on canvas, Will has two quarterhorse geldings named Russel and Nifty at home and sometimes uses them as a reference for her art.
Will is well-known in the Clark County equestrian community for her advocacy. She is the founder of the Whipple Creek Restoration Committee, which is dedicated to repairing and restoring the trails that wind through Whipple Creek Regional Park in Ridgefield.
An area of contract work Will finds most rewarding is to create art for those grieving the passing of a loved animal and will paint upon request.
“I really enjoy painting and I love being able to paint for people,” Will said. “I think that’s a nice thing to do for people,” she later added.
Although she is a self-taught artist, Will likes to watch others paint to gain ideas and techniques.
“I do look at other people’s paintings and I have learned a lot just by watching some other artists,” Will said. “A lot of it has been trial and error.”
Will’s favorite thing to do is detail work and she welcomes challenges as a learning experience.
“It makes you learn,” she said. “It makes you get outside of your box and you really have to work at it sometimes to get it right. I like that. It makes me grow and learn a little bit more.”
As for the future of the art gallery, Will hopes to get one wall full of young, local talent to show off.
“I would actually like one wall dedicated to really good, serious youth artists,” she said.
“I wish I could have had somebody mentor me,” she later added. “You learn so much just by watching somebody and having the ability to do what you want to do, not be restricted by what you should do.