Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Party Painting and Purple Wraps

“Bellator” 9x12 oil on canvas board - photo provided by fellow artist, Linda Shantz

Last weekend I participated in something called The Virtual Party. Artists are provided with a reference photo and required to paint their interpretation of it within a twenty four hour period. It’s amazing how different many of the images can be, all from the same image!

We were given five days to do this. Since I’d been sick and tending to my lame horse, I didn’t decide to give it a try until the last day. After a little over five hours of painting, I managed to produce my version of Bellator, a young warmblood, in his winter blanket. After doing the one hour paintings, this one seemed like a snap to do, and I’m fairly happy with the results, even though it’s not perfect. Maybe I’ll work on it some more some day, but for now it’s drying on the easel.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I was making frequent trips to the barn to check on my horse and to treat his leg. Some slight swelling had appeared in his knee since the vet’s visit and then some swelling of the ligaments behind the cannon bone. We began cold hosing the leg or icing it, and both front legs were wrapped for added support. With the help of bute, he’s gradually come around.

Last weekend my husband came with me to the barn to help. He’s not really a horse person and hadn’t taken much interest in my horse before now. In fact, he hadn’t seen Scottie in a very long time. But they managed to get along quite well anyway. We had Scott in the barn aisle in the cross ties, and a few of the other horses came in to the arena to see what was going on. John was standing at Scottie’s head, patting him and talking to him while I iced his leg. Every time John moved away to pat one of the other horses, Scottie started pawing. I told John that meant he wanted attention, and John would hurry back to him. The pawing stopped immediately. This scenario repeated itself several times and warmed my heart to think that two of the three most important men in my life were making a connection. John was even talking to Scottie the way he does to small children and our cat, and Scottie was eating it up!

On my last visit to the barn, Scott was much better with very little sign of a limp. He had purple wraps on, it was a sunny day and perfect for getting some photos. The first one below is Scottie who had just had a good roll before getting up from his nap. He’s still very shaggy because it’s too early up here to get rid of that winter coat. Snow and cold could return anytime for Winter’s last gasp.

The second photo is of Scott and his best friend, Mikey. I had turned Scott loose in the indoor arena, and he wasn’t quite ready to go back outside into the heat. After greeting Mikey, they engaged in a game of what looked like lip wrestling. Mikey is a Morgan with a lovely arched neck. These two never seem to tire of playing together but are separated for now to keep the lame horses quieter. I love the play of light on Scott in this photo and the way it shows off the arch in Mikey’s neck.

I think it will make a great painting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ups and Downs

“Scruffy” my horse, Scottie, losing his winter coat

Last week was quite an exciting one for me. First off, I finished up the taxes and delivered all the papers to the accountant. That’s always a source of great relief!

Then the following day I met with a local artist whom I hope to work with for a while to help me with my artistic skills. I’ve been feeling rather lost for quite a while now with my art, knowing that I could be doing much better but not knowing where to start or what to do to move forward. It occured to me that working with a more advanced artist might be just the thing I needed; someone to point the way and help guide me along.

I brought several paintings to this first meeting, including the one hour ones, and he critiqued each one of them, pointing out how I could have improved them and what was done well. I was grateful to hear him say, “You obviously have a lot of talent” and “You don’t need ‘remedial’ lessons” and finally “I’m certain that I can help you to improve the quality of your work”. I left floating on Cloud Nine and look forward to meeting with him again. He studied in Florence as a young man and also spent several months at that time sketching horses at a nearby equestrian center. So, he “knows” horses probably better than the average artist who is not an equine artist.

This week didn’t start out so well. On Monday the vet came to adjust my horse, Scottie, and one of the other horses. I quickly discovered that my horse was very lame in the left front leg and was very reluctant to walk. Remembering how good he was with me when I hurt my knee two years ago, I let him take his time walking from the pasture to the barn and figuring out how to turn around in the barn aisle with the least amount of pain.

The vet couldn’t find anything obviously wrong, like a soul bruise or injured muscle, but he was very tight in the neck and shoulders. She concluded that most likely he was stiff from the icy footing outside and/or from the arthritis in his neck causing pain down his leg. We gave him some bute and put him back outside. On the good side, his back and pelvis were still in good alignment, so we’ve definitely made progress on that front at least.

Yesterday I went out to the barn to check on Scott and was very glad to see that he was in less pain but still limping. I led him around the indoor for a while to see if he would walk out of the limp. It got less but didn’t go away completely. Then I turned him loose to see what he would do. Instead of just standing still not wanting to move or standing by the door wanting to go out, he followed me around as I shot some photos. After some massage and stretches, I put him back out and headed home, my mind a little more at ease.

I haven’t made arrangements to meet with the artist again but will do that soon. I need to figure out what I want from these sessions and he needs to let me know how much he’s going to charge. I’ll keep you posted.