Saturday, August 15, 2009

Orren Mixer - Equine Artist

I suggest that someone reading this post might know a lot more about Orren Mixer than I do. Recalling his name from my childhood in efforts to recollect childhood memories, I have been thinking of him quite regularly for the last couple of years and not until yesterday did it occur to me to look him up on Google. I found there an extraordinary story of this man's professional art career and life, also discovering that he died on April 29, 2008. You're wondering why, if I didn't know him, where I came up with the desire to know more about him and his life as an equine artist - thus the Google search.

After an extraordinarily long absence from anything having to do with a paintbrush or canvas, in the last couple of years I have renewed my own personal painting, as in pieces for one's wall as opposed to house painting. Also, in this time of rediscovering my longing to produce artwork, I've come up against the fact that I know very little about my ancestry. My parents, both deceased, did not speak much of their childhood or even young adulthood - maybe they did - but I don't remember it and now, along with my two siblings and our families, I believe we are poorer for not knowing anything about our ancestors or what has led any one of us into any one direction or another in our lives be it career or interest of any kind.

Now retired and painting when I please, as I alluded to I have also spent time trying to resurrect my memories of childhood. As far as ancestry is concerned, I've gone to a few websites and thought seriously about trying to trace our family's history, but I haven't put anything into the works there so far. I've often wondered why with no creative interests in my childhood home, no art, artwork, art books or literature, no art classes in school - why did I decide as a young stay-at-home mom to venture into learning to draw, learning to paint, devouring art and art history books? I was certain I had never been exposed to any art of any kind. Except one place I can clearly remember -

My parents lived in Bethany and Oklahoma City, OK, in their school days and were in San Diego in '41-'47 (my dad was in the Navy), and then they returned to Bethany. Reviewing Orren's history on the internet, I see that he was in OKC for a while, then to San Diego where he worked in a naval shipyard, then his life took him to other states but back to OKC at about the same time my mother and dad came back. They may have known him in young school life, or in the Navy, I have no idea. But I know they were friends as we visited in the Mixer's home several times and I can clearly remember my Mother being so excited for herself and for me to be able to visit Orren's studio and to view his beautiful work. I can feel myself looking up at a huge canvas (I was about 6 or 7) in a beautifully lit room. It was a painting of horses in a field and I was in awe that someone (Mr. Mixer) had actually painted the scene. My Mother was "whispery" in her instructions to me about not touching, wasn't it beautiful, etc. It was a sacred moment.

It turns out that Orren Mixer was one of the, if not the, most well-known equine painter in the world up until the time of his death. He's catalogued in museum and private collections all over the world. How my parents knew him and his wife is a mystery to me but we visited them more than once. I don't remember if they came to our house - I only remember that awestruck moment of realizing someone could actually paint, as opposed to photograph such a beautiful portrait.

The point of my story here is two-fold - One - Orren appears to have been from his press and demeanor, a totally unassuming man with seemingly no veneer of success to change the person he was in life - that of a man pursuing his passion and bringing joy into others' lives with his work. What a wonderful legacy to give his children, grandchildren, and all his friends and family. Two - I am surprised to think that there was in my Mother that spark of recognition and acquaintance of what a truly wonderful artist and his artwork was. That sacred moment in Orren's studio may have well been the spark in a young girl's mind of what the joy of art could mean to a person. Whether or not that was the reason that I paint today or have such a voracious appetite for things artistic, I don't know. Whether or not I can soften my remembrance of Mother's stern attitude toward anything other than "earning a living being important", .....perhaps I can. She did know that Mr. Mixer's art was something to behold and that she wanted me to see it, and for that special memory in its own right, I am thankful. This memory of Orren Mixer and his talent and his art is one of thanksgiving from me for his life and the effect that he may have had on mine......and perhaps on my young Mother's life also.

OM Portrait Photo from the internet website of HORSE CHANNEL.COM


  1. kigen3:10 AM

    Such a gentle tapestry of art and childhood memories. The innocent heart of a beautiful chestnut horse saunters through it.

  2. Kigen,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment about this post. I was shocked to find where this reflection took me - thank you for reading it.

  3. Kigen - do you have a blogsite? If so, I'd like to have your url:)

  4. SS,
    have failed several times attempting blogs - I'm too shy -

  5. wow. this post will send my to my journal. you asked if i knew OM. no, the name does not ring a bell. i am weepy right now thinking of that little girl - those little girls - all three of them (mom & her daughters), yearning for something beautiful and indescribable, yet somehow i catch a glimpse of it all as i read this post. yes, i must turn to my own inner musings on this one. xoxoxoxo

  6. new post...

  7. I too as a child was amazed at not only the size of his paintings but the detail. As a child I spent plenty of time pestering him as he painted and he would always point out a personal touch in each one such as a dog, barn or horse that resembled something from the farm I was raised. He set up a "work station" for me and my little sis that was full of charcoal pencils, colored pencils, paints and tons of paper. Now as an adult I realize he was not only finding something for us to be busy with so he could continue working, he had opened an artistic, creative river in each of us that will last a lifetime. We don't paint portraits but we are both creative and crafty. Our father (Orrens son) is also a crafty, creative and patient man. I am thankful that we were raised with such love and wonderful attributes to pass on to our own children.

    1. @oktinatx... After reading that you said your father was Orren Mixers son I have to tell you a sorry. Back in I think it was the summer of 1975 maybe 74. It was rodeo night in our town of Medicine Lodge Kansas. It was raining really hard as I was driving just outside of town and there was a cowboy with a rodeo bag drapped over his shoulder walking towards town. I stop to give him a ride. He said he was riding a bull in the rodeo and he wound up staying at my house that night cause I think all the motels were full. Anyway at my house he said I might have heard of his father Orren Mixer cause he saw the print I had of the "American Quarter Horse" hanging on my wall. Well of cource I had heard of him cause my father had a few of his prints hanging on his wall. Anyway I thought of this when I read your father was Orrens son. I was wondering if this could have been your father I picked up way back then? Several days after this I told my father that Orrens Mixers son stayed at my house and he said "yea right". So if your father was a bull rider ask him if he remembers riding at Medicine Lodge Kansas.

  8. Anonymous10:37 PM

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  9. Hi Martha,

    Thank you for letting me know you follow my blog from time to time. It is always nice to "meet" someone who has followed w/o comment. I appreciate your reading whether or not you comment.

    Best regards