Churchill Downs unveiled Nov. 22 the 2022 “Official Art of the Kentucky Derby,” by Kentucky artist Aimee Griffith. This marks the sixth year in a row that Churchill Downs tapped a Kentucky artist for the honor.
Griffith, who was born and raised in Bardstown and resides in Lexington, utilizes watercolor as her primary medium because of the luminosity, the gradients, and unexpected nature of watercolor mixing and layering.
“The magic is in the mixing and settling of the paint as it dries,” said Griffith, who attended a watercolor workshop while on vacation in 2016.
The paintings she created for Churchill Downs contrast in several ways. The painting for the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve is intended to display the energy, motion, and excitement of the fastest two minutes in sports with unusual use of color and splashes of paint. The Longines Kentucky Oaks painting, on the other hand, is intended to showcase the fashion, pageantry, and anticipation common to the paddock area before a race.
“This commission challenged me to explore and experiment with my perspective of equestrian art like I’ve not done before,” said Griffith, who works out of a home studio in Lexington with her husband Mark and three children Sam (age 8), Lizzie (6) and Beau (3). “Before I began, I visited Cross Gate Gallery in Lexington and left inspired to try something new. Pushing brighter colors, more contrast, and high energy in my work has helped me evolve as an artist. While I am primarily self-taught, I study and am inspired by artists such as Leroy Nieman, Peter Williams, Wayne Thiebaud, and local artists Jim Cantrell and Tyler Robertson.”
“Official Art of the Kentucky Derby” will be featured on the 2022 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks official racing programs and a variety of merchandise, including Derby and Oaks 148 limited edition artist-signed and numbered posters with embossed and metallic ink treatments.
Other merchandise featuring the artwork includes apparel, posters and postcards available at select retail outlets including the Kentucky Derby Museum and www.KentuckyDerbyStore.com.