2012 Capital Challenge Artwork By Michael Tang Features John French and Small Affair

The 2012 Capital Challenge Horse Show presented by The Gochman Family will run September 29 through October 7 at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. Every year, the show's program and official poster feature new artwork by Michael Tang.

This year’s artwork is an original watercolor based from a photo by CCHS Official Photographer, Shawn McMillen Photography, of John French and Small Affair, last year’s WCHR Professional Challenge winners. The photo is just the beginning as Tang creates his vision.

“While working on this year’s painting of John French and Small Affair, I was thinking that transforming a photograph into a painting is a little like bringing along a young horse,” Tang revealed.

Tang notes that he looks for raw material with potential, similar to the way one can watch a young horse on the ground and guess how it will move under saddle, or watching free jumping for a sense of potential jumping style.

“When I begin to think of beginning the painting for the Capital Challenge Poster, I immediately start looking for a photograph that will flatter both the rider and horse,” he explained. “Of course this is easier said than done, as the rider’s equitation might be less than stellar or the horse’s form less than perfect.”

Finding this year’s photograph for the painting of John French and Small Affair was lucky, Tang said. It showed excellent form, but due to the cloudy day that flattened lights and darks and masked three-dimensional form, Tang had to correct the lighting.

He described, “I begin looking for similar photos taken on a sunny day, photos that reveal the musculature of the horse with dramatic lights and darks. Even with several photos that depict proper lighting for reference, it’s touch and go. I might put down a value, study it for a while and think that it’s safe to proceed. Often times I get stuck and realize what I first thought is incorrect and have to erase and start all over again.”

Again, Tang compares his process to working with a young horse. “As we all know, all young horses are different; what worked for one, won’t work for another. One needs to find the right bit, or through trial and error, find the best way to prepare the horse to show. It’s the same way with a painting as each composition has its own problems to solve. One needs to trust one’s intuition, an intuition that is honed from years and years of experience, and years and years of learning from mistakes.”

Tang does think that the rewarding part of the struggle of creation is “finding the correct answer and solving the problem.” He compared, “It’s not at all different than using intuition, knowledge, and years of experience to see your young prospect finally win in the show ring.”

Capital Challenge Horse is proud to have Tang create his annual artwork for the offical poster and program cover and add to its 19 year history of helping create and promote equestrian art.

Father Michael Tang is a professor, priest and an artist who paints large watercolors reflecting his interest in religious subjects, his life in California, and of course his love of horses. Tang received his bachelor’s degree in studio arts from Loyola Marymount University in 1981, as well as a Masters of Fine Art in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1983. He earned two other master degrees in theology and divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California.

He is a Professor of Art and Art History at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. The award-winning artist specializes in brilliant watercolors and his sporting art has appeared on the covers of The Chronicle of the Horse, Horse Show, The New York Times Magazine, and Dressage Today, as well as many other publications.

When not teaching or painting, Tang enjoys bringing along young show hunters.

About Capital Challenge

In its 19th year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year’s show will take place on September 29-October 7.

Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by In addition to these prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country’s best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.

For more information, please visit or visit the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook!