In HearSway

If you’ve seen wooden boxes being installed on sidewalks in downtown Southern Pines, don’t trip. They’re just stable platforms for the Carolina Horse Park’s fifth annual Painted Ponies Art Walk. Sixteen ponies painted by local artists, like those below, will be installed outside sponsoring businesses in the coming days. In April, they will be auctioned off to benefit the park.

“A Frolic Through the Dogwoods”

Shelly Turner describes her art style as illustrative, whimsical and fairytale-like. This year, her colt is sponsored by Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique and is named “A Frolic Through the Dogwoods.” It’s vibrant blue with scenes of horses and dogs at play. Shelly has painted a pony nearly every year since the concept began.

Shelly is an interior designer by trade and her favorite things to design are surface patterns such as wallpaper and fabrics. You can spot some of her work in Ashten’s Restaurant in downtown Southern Pines. Her colt will be outside the Southern Pines facilities building, at 125 SE Broad St.

Shelly herself has three dogs and a horse, which helped to inspire the scenes on her painted pony. Her favorite part of this year’s pony is a dog and horse rolling in a meadow together.

“I like the challenge of creating art on something that’s not just a flat canvas or paper,” says Shelly. “Getting to see reactions when the ponies are installed is really cool, especially the kids’ reactions.” 

See more of Shelly’s art on her website. 

“The Peace of Wild Things”

First-time pony artist Nikki Sinay Torres’ colt is sponsored by The Pilot and is named “The Peace of Wild Things,” based on the poem by Wendell Berry. She likes to call the pony “Grace” based on the last line.

Though it’s her first time ponying up, she’s no paint palette newbie. Nikki is a seasoned artist who previously worked for Wine & Design and now owns Let’s Paint the Town, which teaches pop up paint classes at various locations. She is also an art teacher at STARS Charter School.

“The neat thing is you might not really know these artists, but when you see the ponies you get to learn more about them,” she says.

Nikki has two daughters, both of which were consulted for the project. One is an artist and the other happens to work in wildlife rehab. Since the theme was local wildlife and plants, Nikki went to her for questions about many of the illustrations like Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, bunnies and more. She was also inspired by real-life animals that her daughter has brought home, such as a baby flying squirrel that lived with the family for a time.

Nikki’s favorite part of her pony is the little flying squirrel.

She describes her art style as messy but detailed. Oftentimes she’ll intentionally add little “mess ups” to try and combat her perfectionism, something she believes many artists struggle with. You’ll see little stars scattered around this pony to add some whimsy. “I like pretty, fun stuff,” she says.

She moved the pony from the garage to her kitchen to work due to the cold temperatures. “Everyone in my family had to deal with the elephant in the room, or in this case horse,” she laughs, “I’m gonna miss Grace when she’s gone.”

We’ll feature more of the painted ponies when they’re installed. Read more about them on the Carolina Horse Park’s website.

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