Written by Shayda Windle
Photos by Patricia Taylor-Holz
When Billie-Jo Pearl, director of operations at the Masters of Foxhounds Association Museum and Headquarters of North America (MFHA), stumbled upon the Weiss family mural after seeing images of it online, she decided to attend their open house this past summer to see the masterpiece in person. The MFHA had just undergone a recent rebranding and was working on renovating its headquarters. Pearl tells us in a recent interview that she was looking for something to fill the blank walls of the building that would align with their rebranding decisions.
After seeing the mural, Pearl says she “couldn’t imagine not having something similar as a part of the renovation.” The basement of the headquarters had not been finished yet, and Pearl knew that a mural was just what the space needed to make it come to life. She commissioned the same artists that created the Weiss mural, Penny Hauffe, and Patricia Taylor-Holz, to create a similar piece for the MFHA building.
“Penny went through a lot of our magazines and photos to form ideas. We wanted to portray working hounds and we wanted a rider mounted on a horse in the countryside.”—Pearl
Pearl and the artists quickly went to work to discuss the details of the project and what Pearl envisioned for the mural. “Penny went through a lot of our magazines and photos to form ideas. We wanted to portray working hounds and we wanted a rider mounted on a horse in the countryside,” Pearl said. After some discussion, the team decided on an image for inspiration – a photograph taken by Helen Houghton, which appeared on the cover of the association’s magazine, Covertside, a few years back.
Houghton, a member and photographer for Golden’s Bridge Hounds out of North Salem, New York, says she has been photographing the hounds of GBH for several years. “I never tire of seeing them in action, watching their expressions, their intense focus on their work, their interactions with each other and with the huntsman, Codie Hayes, and their strength, skill, and amazing athleticism,” Houghton said. These expressions and fierce athleticism are exactly what Hauffe and Taylor-Holz wanted to portray in the mural.
The artists began with a beautiful photograph of hounds jumping a stone wall on the Baxter Preserve in North Salem where Golden’s Bridge often meets. They used a very similar method to create both this mural and the Weiss mural. First, they used a projector to make the line drawings to scale on the wall, and then they went back with pencil to refine the details. “The more time spent on the drawing, the better the painting goes, I find, especially with animal and human elements,” Hauffe said. “While I worked on the hounds, horse, and huntsman, Patricia started to layer up the soft tones in the sky and the underpainting of the stone wall, greenery, and grasses. As we layered up textures, highlights and lowlights we were able to balance the scenery with the action of the subjects and finally add the finishing touches together of the fallen leaves dusting the baseboards.”
The hounds jumping the stone wall and the huntsman on his horse with two hounds on the right were designed and painted as a single scene in order to seat the viewer firmly in the field surrounded by the hunt “in action.” The complete mural is a masterpiece. Be sure to stop by and see it in person. You won’t be disappointed. ML
To learn more about MFHA and MFHA Foundation, visit mfha.com. For more information on the Weiss family mural, please see page eight of the June 2021 issue of Middleburg Life or follow this link. Discover more work from artists Penny Hauffe: pennypaint.com and Patricia Taylor-Holz: pthvisualarts.com.
This article first appeared in the December 2021 Issue.