Nipper captures equine images
Hailing from East Tennessee, artist Billie Nipper is the type of friend one instantly warms to, regardless of where you're heading or where you've been. Her warm personality and sweet sense of humor is a blessing to tired bodies in need of a quiet touch of humanity.
A self-taught artist, Nipper began painting as something to entertain herself with as a young bride. She painted her father-in-law at work in the horse stables and him in the farrier business.
His customers began seeing the pictures and inquiring about the artist. Soon Nipper was painting, for no charge, their horses too.
"It just got to be too much to try to afford on my own," she said. "Paints were relatively expensive and I was being asked to do several at a time."
Nipper said her confidence level was low when she began but little by little it grew.
"I don't ever let anyone see anything until the project is completed and I am satisfied," she said. "I am still my own worse critic."
Many avenues that display her celebrated works are available but it wasn't until 1976 with the World Grand Champion Shades of Carbon (ridden by Judy Martin) that her works became sought-after masterpieces on Gorham fine china.
"In 1982, a friend of late Pres. Ronald Reagan visited the horse show (The Celebration) and bought a framed print of Something Special (a portrait done by Nipper of a mare and foal). He had it sent to the President's California home in Ranch del Cielo as a gift."
Members of the White House staff added to the late President's Nipper collection by presenting him the Strolling Jim Gorham plate.
"I don't have a favorite piece," she admitted. "I really tend to think I like best whichever one I'm working on at the time.
"I have been so blessed to see my work in so many different uses. There are wall paper borders available with a few of the prints, there are stained glass windows, pieces in museums and galleries all across the country."
People owning her works are just as widespread as the countryside.
Billie Nipper works hang in the homes and offices of recording stars and entertainers such as Shania Twain, Zsa Zsa Gabor and in the Reagan Galleries.
A print of Threat's Supreme, painted by Nipper, hangs in the Horse Park, a museum of all famous horses of all breeds, in Lexington, Ky. She has also been commissioned by the American Quarter horse industry where she painted a series of five collector's plates with the world champions of the breed featured.
Her paintings are not just about horses however. She has a collection of private-styled works that include barns and countryside, flowering trees and nature. In addition, she can be commissioned for private works.
Her memberships in art societies throughout the nation are many but her favorite place to be is at home.
"I enjoyed very much just being at home and being quiet," she said. "I haven't been to the cabin in the mountains in some time and I closed my gallery in Cleveland though I still have space in several other galleries in the area.
"I enjoy spending time with my family and my paintings. I enjoy very much seeing my friends from across the country at shows. There have now been five generations of Nippers to be involved in some way with horses. I guess we train them, breed them, shoe them, show them, cheer them and paint them.
"We're definitely horse people."
Billie Nipper Galleries is located on the historic Celebration Grounds just outside the exit gate of the big oval.
For more information on her works, contact her on the web.