Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SOLD! My First Horse Art Sale

"The Dressage Clinic" 16x20 inch pastel, Sold

Pictured above is the very first work of art that I sold that wasn't a portrait. I'd been doing horse and pet portraits for years but had never managed to sell an original work of art before. 

This pastel painting came about by way of an exercise in a color drawing class in art school. I liked the exercise of exploring lost and found edges of objects and thought it would be fun to explore using horses as subject matter. Before that I had done a couple with deer in them and sail boats but dropped the technique until years later. 

After getting back into horses again and moving my horse to a new barn, I discovered dressage and a fellow boarder who was a dressage rider. One weekend, three of us from the barn went to a dressage clinic at Bay Harbor Equestrian Center outside of Petoskey, Michigan to observe. The clinic instructor was none other than Steffen Peters, a well known and accomplished professional dressage rider and Olympian. I took my camera and got a lot of pictures despite the poor lighting in the large indoor arena. 

From the best of those photos, The Dressage Clinic emerged. The process is a bit complicated to explain. It involves cut outs of horses and riders laid down on the paper and rubbed over with pastel dust along the edges. First, of course, you must arrange all the cut outs in a pleasing array of different sizes. After this stage was complete, I went on to add details to the figures with colored pencils, leaving some areas to be "lost" and some "found". 

For those of you who are not familiar with dressage, a dressage test consists of riding from letter to letter spaced out around the dressage arena. The letters tell the rider when to transition from walk to trot or to canter a 20 meter circle or whatever the test calls for. That is what the letters in the painting reference. 

This painting is far from my best work, even at that time, but it does mark a milestone in my advancement as a professional equine artist. I went on to create another better dressage clinic piece with a different color palette, but it would not photograph well, and I finally destroyed it. I haven't done any more since. 

Below is another pastel painting using the same technique. This one depicts a

foal playing. The title is Playtime, and this one also sold. 


"Playtime", 11x14 pastel, Sold
This is an excellent exercise in manipulating shapes, sizes, harmonious colors and lost and found edges. Maybe some day I will do another. 

PS A "lost" edge is one that disappears in the picture. Lost edges can be very important in a painting or drawing as they help to draw attention to the "found" edges and points of interest by deemphasizing other edges and areas. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Scotch Bar Lochinvar"


My horse, Scottie

My horse, Scottie, turned thirty a few days ago. That is a remarkable achievement for a horse, and considering how gravely ill Scottie was just two and a half years ago, it is doubly remarkable. 

The picture above is one I took when Scottie was almost five. It has always been one of my favorites. In fact, I created a drawing based on it and then had limited edition reproductions made of that. See below. 

"Scotch Bar Lochinvar" pencil drawing of a horse
After a thirty year absence from the horse world, I started taking riding lessons in my forties and bought Scottie a short six weeks later. The first day walking into that horse barn, I had such a strong feeling of coming home that I knew right then and there that I was meant to be in that world and vowed never to abandon it again. The sights, sounds and smells of that barn and the horses were all familiar, burned into my psyche from the years spent in barns as a youngster and a deep passion for horses for as far back as I can remember. 

At that time I was a middle aged woman who was trying to conquer my fear of riding and a life long shame of being what I considered then to be a coward. It was a huge step for me; a make it or break it one. If it didn't work out, I would have lost nothing, but if it did I had the world to gain. I was lucky to find the perfect trainer to take me on that journey, one who understood my fears and guided me gently along the way with no admonishments to Cowboy Up or Just Do It. That was the last thing I needed to be told. 

Scottie, it turned out, was my lesson horse. Scottie was a four year old, slightly green, unregistered Quarter Horse (which is a story in itself). But his temperament was such that he was being used for lessons by the trainer. He was a perfect match for me, and as it turned out, he was for sale!

I made a deal with my husband, and Scottie was mine! Little did my husband realize the consequences of his wife's passion, but he has been supportive all through the years.

Buying Scottie was just the beginning of immersion into the world of horses, and it led to my first ever horse portrait and the beginning of my career as an equine artist. So, in a big way I owe it all to Scottie and my trainer, Lisa, who helped me overcome my fears; not completely but enough to live in the horse world as an owner/rider and to meld my two life passions: horses and art. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

"Feel So Fine" Frisky Colt In A Spring Pasture. Spring Sale Offering

"Feel So Fine" Pastel Painting of a Foal in Spring


Today is the first official full day of Spring, and isn't it especially welcome this year? Never mind that it snowed here this morning.

For we horse lovers, signs of Spring bring thoughts of newborn foals in all their cuteness. This is a painting of a foal that I created several years ago which has still not found a home. I don't quite know why, but it happens. For some works of art, it just takes a little longer for the right person to come along and fall in love with them and take them home. 

The subject of this painting is Bullet, a Morgan colt that a friend allowed me to photograph many years ago. He's a little flashy for a Morgan with all that white and he was so lively running around, bucking and kicking out, as he raced around the paddock. I put him in a Spring pasture to make a more Springlike composition to set the mood better. 

Titled "Feel So Fine", this pastel painting is available for the special Spring Sale price of $205 framed plus shipping. It measures 12.5x14 inches and is double matted inside a brushed gold frame. If you're interested in purchasing this painting of Bullet, please message me to arrange for the sale. 

This isn't the only time I've painted Bullet, though. On a second photo shoot at the farm I got more pictures of him and more foals. Now Bullet is all grown up, still handsome and still prancing around when turned loose for the day. The painting below is also a pastel on pastelmat and was sold several years ago. 

"Bullet In Motion" Pastel Painting of a Morgan Gelding
Please visit my website, Karen Thumm Fine Art to see more of my work and see works in progress. I plan to be very busy in the studio this Spring and Summer creating more art for you to enjoy. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Equine Art Candy for the Eyes

"Scotty and Me" old graphite pencil drawing


I have two entries in the Institute of Equine Artists online exhibition which opened on March 1, 2015. Both are older pieces, but I am hoping to get back to some painting very soon while I take breaks from working on income taxes.

It is a very fine show, so be sure to go through all the entries and let me know what you think!

IEA Power and Grace

Meanwhile, I've been in physical therapy yet again for continuing problems as a result of last year's surgery. The new dogs are also taking up much time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Delights

Misty and I

 Our house has been exceptionally busy the past few weeks.

Last Saturday, December 13, we adopted two rescued dogs after being without any dogs for nine whole years. Needless to say, our lives are much changed and enriched by these two and made busier than usual. 

Max and Misty are Labrador Retriever/German Shepherd mixes - and maybe a little something else mixed in. They are brother and sister, thirteen months old and very well behaved. Someone did a very good job in teaching them basic manners although Max sometimes jumps up on us. He's WAY too big for that!

My husband and Max
Max is a very big boy, currently weighing in at around 76 lbs and still on the skinny side. Misty, on the other hand is petite at a mere 46 lbs. They are brother and sister. They are both very quiet dogs but love to wrestle with one another and have been enjoying their play time in our large dog pen outside. 
Misty

Molly the cat was not at all impressed when we brought them home, but she's getting better and doesn't hiss at them nearly as much anymore. They are very good with her. That was one requirement we insisted on with any potential adoptee. 

We are very grateful to Max and Misty's former owners who turned them in to Animal Control when they fell on hard times and lost their house. We're told they cried when they left the dogs. Animal Control turned the dogs over to a local rescue group who put them up for adoption. They wanted the dogs to be adopted together since they are so tightly bonded to one another. And, to my great shock, my husband was the one who wanted both dogs. 

So, Misty and Max will spend their first Christmas with us, and we will all celebrate the joy and peace and love of the season as a new family. Our grown up kids are coming, and they can't wait to meet their new "siblings". 

Max and Misty wrestling
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and a Joyful Holiday to one and all!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Polar Bear Sketching Fun

Polar bear and cubs pencil drawing

A couple of weeks ago I was in Michaels and couldn’t resist buying some of those cute miniature animals. Telling myself that I would use them as props in paintings and drawings, I happily carried home a wolf, a Percheron draft horse and a giraffe. But what captured my interest and imagination the most were the polar bears: a mother and cub. 

This morning I happened to turn on the TV at the end of a documentary on a female polar bear and her two cubs. Remembering my own sow and cub and my plans for them, I watched and studied the bears as they went about their daily activities. When the show was over, I grabbed a sketchbook and did this drawing from memory of a polar bear and her two cubs on the ice. 

I didn’t bother with using my little models; I just wanted to grab from memory with no reference and no expectations of this little sketch being a preliminary for something more refined. That’s the way I often drew as a kid; from memory with no references. I spent many many happy hours drawing this way just for the pure enjoyment of it. 

If you’ll recall, I took a workshop three years ago in which we drew a stuffed polar bear at the Dennos Museum in Traverse City. I channeled my memories of that experience, too, along with the observations of the bears in the documentary. These are the only two times I have ever drawn bears, and I’m  fairly pleased with the results. I like the gesture of the mother bear’s movement and the babyness of her cubs. That is not to say that any of them are perfect, but that wasn’t the purpose or goal of the sketch. 

When I brought those polar bears home from Michaels, I had a painting in mind to do with them. The scene would be in the winter darkness with the Northern Lights in the sky behind them. Wouldn’t it be cool, I thought, to paint those light colors into the coats of the bears and on the ice? Perhaps this sketch will be the starting point for that painting after all; just an idea of an image to expand upon in a full fledged painting. Perhaps I’ll head to the Dennos and do some more sketches of that stuffed bear in the lobby. 

Yeah, that sounds like a plan. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old Horse Painting and Getting Back To Normal

"Bear", 11x14 pastel horse painting

It's been a long time since I last posted, and although I haven't quite gotten back to the easel yet, I thought I'd share this old portrait with you today for Throwback Thursday.

This is Bear. He was an Appaloosa gelding who belonged to a riding friend several years ago. I had the pleasure of painting his  portrait as a gift and am still reasonably happy with it. An artist is never completely satisfied with any finished painting, but that's another story.

The portrait was done in pastel, and what a fun time I had getting all that roaning to look natural and to match the markings on Bear's face and body. I haven't worked in pastel in a very long time now, not since I quit accepting portrait commissions, but I'm getting the urge to pick them up again.

That will be a lot easier now that my studio is finally all put back together after the long layup during the surgery recovery. During this past month, I sorted through all of my oil paints and separated them into warm and cool colors. Then I separated out duplicates and packed them in an old fishing tackle box that I'll use for painting outdoors.

The final step in getting the studio back together involved going through my art supply closet and rearranging it. In the process I found a few things that I'd forgotten I had and got rid of some other things no longer needed. All is arranged much better now, and my lifetime supply of old t shirts and pillowcases is organized in two boxes to be used as paint rags as needed. There was even left over space to put a few things away that had been kicking around the studio floor.

And, very lastly, my husband brought my drawing table back out of the attic to resume its old position folded up against the wall. I love that drawing table; so compact when it's folded and yet a large working surface when set up. It was the final piece to putting the studio back into full operating mode.

Meanwhile during the month, I went to physical therapy twice per week, did my exercises (mostly) faithfully and got caught up on various doctor appointments and the cat's vet appointments. I am now finished with PT and am looking forward to more free time to devote to catching up on so very many tasks that have gone undone for way too long. There are bird feeders to clean and set up and horse blankets to wash for the coming winter among many other tasks.

Homeward Bound on a trail ride
During the month of September, I was able to ride somewhat regularly and to fit in four trail rides. Oh, how glorious that was! Trail riding season is fast coming to an end, and it's time to plan for arena riding through the winter.

Speaking of which, can you believe that the Holidays are almost upon us?! Where has this year gone? It certainly has flown by.