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Jewel of the Nile, Original Watercolour on acid free board, painting in Private Collection

I often think and talk about fate and destiny on my blog, probably because the subject fascinates me. But this subject has a recurring theme throughout my life and also in many of my books. A week ago the art world sadly lost the eclectic and accomplished equine artist Willa Frayser.

There is no doubt in my mind that meeting and working with Willa was fated. Like so many other equine art enthusiasts I knew Willa’s name and always admired her artwork. But I was reminded how much I loved her work when her painting Tranquility featured on the cover of Australian Arabian Horse News, gelding edition some decades ago.


I immediately remembered Willa from this cover and when we friended each other on Facebook I had been discussing my, then, soon to be released children’s book ‘Danika and Yatimah from Egypt to the Outback’. Willa did a post on the subject and it didn’t take long before we became firm friends and easily fell in the habit of emailing each other weekly.
In 2010, I asked Willa to collaborate with me on  ‘Danika and Yatimah from Egypt to the Outback’. I had already published two novels and had a vision of a strong Arabian mare with all the Arabian breed characteristics. Willa soon discovered the inner vision I had for my stories, and she created the cover art, as well as the black and white illustrations, for book one, ‘Danika and Yatimah from Egypt to the Outback’ and book two ‘Danika and Yatimah in a Race for Rain’. Both books are a part of the ongoing series titled ‘As the Crow Flies’ where the reader goes on several exciting journeys with Danika and her spirited Arabian mare Yatimah as they share their adventures in the Outback.

“It was such a delight to get to know each character in the story and be able to create the images that would make them familiar to the readers.”

I soon understood how Willa’s inspiration stems from a deep bond with the equine spirit. Her creativity, talent and eye for detail culminates in a one of a kind painting designed to reach deep into one’s soul and capture the spirit of the subject. Willa brings life to the canvas with her interpretation of movement and light, along with her emotional bond with each subject.

Willa and her loved Cheyenne

Attached is a questionnaire answered by Willa for my Reader of the Month August 2012.


Tell us 5 Random Things about you the person.

1) Artistic
2) Passionate about Horses
3) Love anything outdoors
4) Kind and caring about people and animals
5) Too energetic, don’t relax enough

Favourite Authors – Carmel Rowley, Nora Roberts

Is there something you would like to share with us about your painting and love of horses?

My love of horses comes out in my paintings – I cannot separate the two. I have to depict the horse as I see him, beautiful, shiny, kind eyes. I have had to draw horses since I can remember until I could physically enjoy being in their company. Now I can do both. I must mention that I tend to run at life head on and not cutting any corners. I don’t want to miss anything that might make my life more interesting or help me grow as a person!

Reply-Willa August 29, 2012
“I am very pleased and proud to be Carmel’s “Reader of the Month” – I got to know Carmel a little over 2 years ago and found her to be a warm, sincere and fascinating person. I had ordered her first book “Tails Carried High” and was surprised and delighted at how quickly I finished this rather large book! It was so full of intrigue, adventure and surprises. I was even more delighted when Carmel began discussing her children’s novel “Danika & Yatimah” and was determined that I would help her make this book a reality. Illustrating this book has been one of the high points of my career! Thank you for asking me to be your “Reader” for the month.”


• Member: Virginia Equine Artists Association
• Illustrator: Danika & Yatimah – From Egypt to the Outback, Danika and Yatimah in a Race for Rain Book 1 and & 2 of the As the Crow Flies series by Australian Author, Carmel Rowley
• Featured: Equine Images, Arabian Horse Chronicles, Chronicle of the Horse, Australian Arabian Horse News
• Artist nominee for the 2015 EQUUS Film Festival NYC Poster competition
Past exhibits all across the United States, including Kentucky Horse Museum at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY, Science Center, Richmond, VA and Montpelier Center for the Arts, Montpelier, VA, The Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen, Glen Allen, VA
Commissioned work for lovers and breeders of horses in most of the US states – including Alaska and Hawaii. Other works are in collections in Australia- Tasmania & Queensland, Austria, England, Brazil, Bermuda, Canada and Puerto Rico.


Equine Artist since 1979
Current Member Virginia Equine Artists Association
I BEGAN MY JOURNEY IN PORTLAND, OREGON AND WAS RAISED ON THE BEAUTIFUL OREGON COAST. WITH ONLY THE LOVE OF HORSES AND AN EYE FOR DETAIL, I HAVE DEVELOPED A STYLE AND TECHNIQUE WHICH IS MY OWN AND IS RECOGNISED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. Moving to Virginia in 1977, I began exhibiting at various horse and art shows around the East Coast. I was accepted into the Horse Artists Association and participated in many exhibits with this group from Arizona to Kentucky. In 1992, I was invited to participate in the first ever “Wild Horse Art Exhibit” at the Kentucky Horse Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville. In 2006 I become a member of the Virginia Equine Artists Association and have participated in many events as a member of this group. My portraits are as well-known as my prints and I have completed commissioned work for lovers and breeders of horses in most of the 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Other works are in collections in Australia, Austria, Tasmania, England, Brazil, Bermuda, Canada and Puerto Rico. I have a portfolio that includes not only horses, but also dogs, cats, cattle, donkeys and birds.

Not only did Willa became a very dear friend, but an inspiration – we were a match in energy, imagination and spirit. I admired how Willa took chances and stretched her abilities working on new ideas as her creative muse instructed. Her abstracts and even her painted handbags were a message to all artists to always grow and look outside the square.
To Willa’s family, may the memories and the love of family surround you and give you strength in the days ahead.
Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, a painter who paints pictures of all we hold most dear. I know there are an uncountable number of people around the world who hold Willa dear, these art lovers will always cherish her memory and send a loving greeting every time they glance at her  marvellous artwork.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

4 Responses

  1. Lynne Lloyd
    | Reply

    It is so sad that we all have to pass from this life, especially a beautiful person as you have described your friend Willa to be. Her paintings of Arabian horses are exquisite. I especially love the Jewel of the Nile watercolour.

  2. Carmel Rowley
    | Reply

    Thank you dear Lynne, I felt truly blessed to be Willa’s friend. I have several of Willa’s paintings and admired her ability to paint all breeds of horses. The dogs she painted were wonderful. Jewel of the Nile is also one of my favourites, there are so many paintings that I often said to Willa, this is my favourite over and over again. Lovely of you to comment.

  3. Kimberly Simon
    | Reply

    I have a painting Willa did called Morherhood II I am looking to sell it. Wondering if you could direct me in it’s worth? I can email you pics as well. It’s 52/450 & copyright 1985

    • Carmel
      | Reply

      Hi Kimberley, I’m not really sure what price you would put on your lovely painting by Willa Frayser. I guess all you can do is try a price you feel is fair taking into account what you paid and how long you have owned it. Also whether it is a print or an original work. You could try one of the horse/horse art groups/pages on Facebook to see how much interest you create. Good luck. Take care in these difficult times. Carmel

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