Carol Hagan, “Trifecta,” oil and cold wax on glass, 27 x 42 x 3/4 in. © Carol Hagan 2017

An early goal for historical artists was to begin breaking down the artificial barrier (or picture plane) between the created world and the viewer’s world, using inventive new strategies. This member of the Russell Skull Society has taken this idea to gorgeous new heights.

Using glass as her support along with colorful oils and cold wax, artist Carol Hagan is giving collectors and connoisseurs something fresh to look at with a stunning new series she calls “Glass Horses.” A self-taught artist, Hagan considers herself a contemporary expressionist and colorist, two elements that are highlighted beautifully in this new series of paintings.

Carol Hagan, “She Was Fond of Wandering, But Was Always Back by Supper,” oil and cold wax on glass, 22 x 24 x 3/4 in. © Carol Hagan 2017
Carol Hagan, “She Was Fond of Wandering, But Was Always Back by Supper,” oil and cold wax on glass, 22 x 24 x 3/4 in. © Carol Hagan 2017

As her works suggest, Hagan has an affinity for horses as her subjects, and she captures their majestic beauty with simple, expressive, but very deliberate and descriptive stokes of the brush. While their bold forms are clearly recognizable, closer inspection of the details reveals Hagan’s skill and understanding of color relationships. In fact, to ignore the form of the horses is an exercise that only reveals stunning abstract expressionist qualities.

Of her subjects, Hagan says, “Horses are old souls. The quiet exchange of positive energy and communication that takes place just from standing next to a horse, or within a group of horses, is simply extraordinary. They hold within them a silent calm, yet a powerful sense of acceptance, grace, wisdom, and strength.”

Carol Hagan, “Spotted Rump,” oil and cold wax on glass, 27 x 40 x 3/4 in. © Carol Hagan 2017
Carol Hagan, “Spotted Rump,” oil and cold wax on glass, 27 x 40 x 3/4 in. © Carol Hagan 2017

The effect of Hagan’s glass painting is also extraordinary, as her equine subjects truly appear to occupy the viewer’s space. It’s hard to find adequate ways to describe the spatial relationship between the viewer and artwork because it’s not quite something one typically encounters. Be that as it may, there’s little doubt that the technique works, leaving one wondering if other artists may one day try it for themselves.

Discussing this new series, Hagan writes “The ‘Glass Horses’ series is inspired by my desire to incorporate both light, and spatial elements, in my work. Painting on sheets of thick glass allows me the opportunity to explore the dimension of light, and the free-standing works can be viewed from both sides. Shadows are cast from the horses themselves, through their positive and negative spaces. These works possess a three-dimensional presence, depending on how each piece is lit for display.

“A complete work incorporates two sheets of glass, with painting on both sheets working together to create a single image. I use oils and cold wax together, creating transparent washes and glazes, opaque strokes, and richly textured areas. These all interact with the element of light, and bring its ever-changing qualities into play. I chose to have my glass sheets finished with flat polished edges, as this allows for yet another aspect of light prisms to reflect from the painted images, and enhances the interesting shadows that they create.”

Carol Hagan, “Peach-Faced Love Birds,” oil and cold wax on glass, 38 x 36 x 3/4 in. © Carol Hagan 2017
Carol Hagan, “Peach-Faced Love Birds,” oil and cold wax on glass, 38 x 36 x 3/4 in. © Carol Hagan 2017

Collectors will soon have a chance to view these — and other gorgeous, more traditional, paintings — during the C.M. Russell Museum’s exhibition and sale, slated to open next week (March 16-18 in Great Falls, Montana). More specifically, Hagan is one of only two female artists in the Russell Skull Society of Artists. Hagan, along with her fellow members, will be showcasing works all week at the Mansfield Convention Center.

If you would like to learn more, visit Carol Hagan. More information about the Russell Skull Society of Artists can be found here.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the Editor of Fine Art Today and works as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.

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