AIKEN -- Anne Lattimore painted fruit baskets and flower vases in high school with as much fervor as the next student. She couldn't wait to get home from art class to ride horses.
In Aiken's horse community, much of her young life revolved around after-school rides on Dupree Street and in weekend equestrian events. It wasn't until college that her appreciation for the animal's muscular physique finally fueled her paintbrush.
"I always liked art, but I spent most of my time riding," Ms. Lattimore said. "I joined an art class at Augusta College on a lark, and oil painting really cinched it for me."
That was more than 30 years ago.
Her name now joins the ranks of internationally renowned equine painters and sculptors such as Werner Rentsch, T.D. Kelsey and Gwen Reardon, the last a sculptor whose life-size work of horses and jockeys entering the final stretch at the Thoroughbred Horse Park is the most famous sculpture in Lexington, Ky.
Ms. Lattimore's pastel-colored etching on paper, Homeward Bound, recently was selected for the Equestrian's Perspective Exhibition at The Sportsman's Gallery in Atlanta. The exhibit -- juried by the American Academy of Equine Art -- began Saturday and runs through April 30.
"These artists are the top in their field," said Michael Paderewski, owner and director of The Sportsman's Gallery. "They are some of the top in the world of contemporary equine artists."
Ms. Lattimore prefers to show her work in galleries -- among the most prominent is a display at the White House. Some of her works hung there during the Reagan administration.
She rarely enters juried exhibits. This is her first application for an academy-sanctioned exhibit, and she is thrilled to be accepted.
"I was just cruising the Web and came across the application for the exhibit," she said. "I slipped in there right before the cutoff date."
Her etching on paper, which depicts a hunt, is exactly what the academy celebrates -- equestrian sports.
Ms. Lattimore has spent years attending polo matches in places such as England and Palm Beach, Fla., and in her hometown. She takes photographs of the action to paint later.
"The movement of the horse in polo is just incredible," she said. "They get in so many different positions that are wonderful to paint."
"I'm also crazy about steeplechase," Ms. Lattimore added.
Although her love for the animal runs deep -- so much that she wishes it were feasible to keep a horse in her home "just to watch" -- she went to art school to paint portraits. And she was first known in the community for her brilliant florals.
"Anne has a beautiful, rich palette of colors -- purples, pinks, blues, greens -- and she is not afraid to use them," said Toni Jerome, owner of the Artists' Parlor on Laurens Street, where Ms. Lattimore's work has shown for more than 20 years. "The most amazing thing about Anne is that she can do children's portraits, polo action pieces and landscapes all equally well."
Oil paintings of beautiful flowers and portraits of people fill the walls of Ms. Lattimore's home studio. The most striking painting in her workshop, which is crammed with shelves of books on almost every subject, is of a Confederate soldier resting in a tree.
"I love going to Civil War re-enactments," she said. "It's like walking in a large painting. The landscape is gorgeous, and they wear the most beautiful clothes."
In the past few years, Ms. Lattimore has spent most of her time working on etchings printed on canvas or linen. The technique of etching on a soft surface, instead of a hard one, dates back to Rembrandt in the 1600s. She uses an old-fashioned press to force the etching onto paper, canvas or linen. Each result is different.
"I fell in love with etching about 1969, when one of my teachers taught a class on it after school," Ms. Lattimore said. "It's exciting because you sometimes get things, after it's printed, that you didn't expect."
Whether she's doing an oil painting or an etching, narrowing her subject is the most difficult task.
"I want to paint everything I see," she said.
Reach Katie Throne at (803) 279-6895.
What: Equestrian's Perspective Exhibit
Where: The Sportsman's Gallery, 309 East Paces Ferry Road N.E., Suite 120, Atlanta
Telephone: (404) 841-0133
Online: To view Anne Lattimore's work or contact her, visit www.annelattimore.com.