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FRED STONE

Three of his portraits stand twenty feet high and sixty feet across in downtown Moscow. The Queen of England owns one of his paintings. He is currently in the process of preparing a 12-foot by 120-foot mural for the new Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.

Fred Stone is the artist. Nearly seventy, he’s a tall, broad shouldered man with a bushy gray mustache. When art critics describe his portraits they talk about the “determination,” “dignity,” “soul,” and the “elegance and emotion” he captures in his subjects. It is appropriate that he lives in “horse country” - in Old Agoura, with equine trails for sidewalks and paddocks and riding rings for back yards – because the portraits he paints are most often not of men but of horses. Thoroughbreds like Cigar, Man O’War, and Secretariat. The Chicago Tribune once called him “the most famous painter of horses in the world.”

Fred Stone grew up in Los Angeles, attended Fairfax High, and wanted to be a professional ball player. He had a talent he says and recalled one of his proudest moments at age sixteen.

“I pitched for the LA City champions against the world champion St. Louis Browns. I had a perfect game, a no hitter going into the ninth inning.” He won that game but it was also the end of his pitching arm.

Fred Stone carried that desire for perfection into his study of art. He graduated from the Los Angeles Art Center School and for awhile he worked as a magazine artist.

“I was good,” he explained, “But I wasn’t prolific. I couldn’t produce fast enough. I’m very slow. Like Vermeer, the Dutch painter, I can only do three or four paintings a year."

He went to work for the studios from 1954-60 as a scenic painter. But he was still too meticulous, too slow, and despite his love for art, he had to quit painting to earn a living. Fred Stone went to work as a salesman with his brother, a successful entrepreneur. After his daughter graduated college, she went on to a job working at
racetracks. Inviting him to visit behind the scenes one day, Fred Stone began to paint again. He discovered his forte and found his fame in painting the drama of a race, the special character of a champion horse and a winning rider. But before becoming
acknowledged as the most successful painter of thoroughbred racing in the world,
Fred Stone spent sixteen years working for his brother selling the latest in flushing
toilets for aircraft and marine craft. It may seem strange but he credits those years as a
salesman selling ignominious toilets for his success today as an artist.


“Artists sit alone in garrets and paint," Stone explained. It’s a lonely job. Few, even the most talented, succeed commercially because few ever learn how to sell themselves and their art. Fred Stone knew not only how to paint. After sixteen years as a salesman, he knew how to sell. And today his work is hung in hotels, racetracks, and casinos, in the homes of Queens and the giants of industry.