Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Most Excellent Day

Last Fall's Trail Ride
Yesterday morning I met with my new art mentor/instructor, and we got right into learning new things. He reviewed with me how the Renaissance Masters began their paintings, showed me examples of drawings in some old books he has and also showed me some of his own paintings. He paints not only large but HUGE! Floor to ceiling sized paintings. One is a copy of a Velasquez which he did during his student days in Florence, and he urged me to do copies of my own if I wanted to.

I left with a homework assignment of creating a still life in the underpainting stage and a hunk of beeswax which he gave me. I’m to study the still lifes of Cezanne and Constable’s landscapes. Firstly, I have to find some white birch to make into panels.

Later in the day, I headed for the barn and ended up going on a nice trail ride with riding buddies, Ann and Shelley since Shelley had seen Scottie running around in the turnout just fine. We were out for a little over an hour, going up hill and down dale, and Scottie did very well with no hint of a limp. Coming up the big hill on the way back we had to stop a couple of times to let the horses rest, and Scottie was visibly tired but still not limping when we got back to the barn.

Scottie seemed to enjoy the ride as much as I did. Whenever we came to a two track offshoot he would stop and look up it and head for it as if to say, “I wonder where this goes”. He likes to be last on the way out, and no matter how many times you get him to catch up with the others, he always manages to dawdle enough to end up behind again. But, as soon as we turn for home, his pace quickens and he heads for the lead. At that point he can even out pace the almost seventeen hand Mellissa (aka The Tank).

The other thing Scottie likes to do on trail rides is eat leaves. He’s very persistent and bullish about this. Well, last night there were no leaves on the branches yet, so he ate twigs instead. Silly horse!

We had to come back by way of the long up hill because one of the neighbors now has chickens which are frequently in the road, and our horses are not chicken proofed yet. Shelley once told a hilarious story of how the horses reacted when a flock of wild turkeys wandered into the paddock one day. Pandemonium ensued. Apparently the horses thought they might be wolves in turkey suits.

On the other hand, these chickens are an opportunity for a photo shoot! I hear chicken paintings are quite popular.

I am so relieved that I can ride again and that my horse isn’t in danger of being permanently lame! I’m also looking forward to lots of trail rides this year. After my health crisis of last Fall, I’m not feeling nervous about trail riding any more. Not even Bryan’s Squirrel Trail Adventure Rides!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Appointment With Destiny

“Freehand Horse Sketch”

Sounds pretty dramatic, doesn’t it? It may not be earth shattering to the world at large, but it’s pretty dramatic in my little world. I now have the first appointment to meet with my new mentor, and I can’t wait to see where this will take me, artistically!

One of the things that’s been holding me back from art is the feeling that when I do get back into it seriously my art just won’t be the same as it was. I may not have created much in the past few years, but much has been going on in my brain which is bound to show up on the canvas or paper. The other thing is knowing that I don’t want to do what I WAS doing, but I don’t know what I DO want to do. And, I don’t know how to get there. Does that make any sense?

I DO know that realism will remain my focus, but I’d like to make design a much more conscious part of the process (otherwise known as composition). I KNOW that is one of my weaknesses. An awareness of design is probably the biggest thing I gained during those art school days in commercial art. It applies just as much to fine art painting as it does to good graphic design.

On the one hand is an admiration for the Classical Masters and their time-consuming methods of laying on multiple layers of paint to achieve a very luminous surface. On the other hand, I like creating something in a few hours and having something new to hang on the studio walls and to show to the world on a weekly basis, like those one hour paintings I did a month or so ago.

I love the clear, bright colors of the Impressionists but would like to learn to use more subtlety in selection of a palette. And I definitely don’t like dark, brooding sorts of paintings.

My new mentor was trained in the classical manner in Florence, but he also came of age during the time when abstract expressionism, pop art and op art were at the forefront of the art scene. My hope is that, with all of his varied experiences, he can help me explore and find my individual artistic voice while at the same time teaching me all those technical things about art that would take me years to learn on my own, if I ever did.

Probably most importantly I’m hoping to gain enough self confidence to be able to risk failure and enough discipline to get me into the studio on a regular, if not daily, basis.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Last Gasp of Winter


Even though it’s snowing today, I thought I’d show you one of our forsythia bushes that is blooming right now. It’s about the only new image there is to share.

The saga of the lame horse continues. As I write, I’m awaiting a call from the vet for an appointment to have Scottie looked at again and some xrays taken. He’s no longer visibly limping at the walk, but the swelling behind the cannon bone is still there. Shelley is thinking he pulled a suspensory ligament, and I’m inclined to agree.

Scottie is thoroughly enjoying all this extra attention. He was so glad to see me on Tuesday that he gave me big wet kisses on the neck and cheek and tried to groom me as I worked on him. He’s very good about standing still while I hold the cold pack on his leg or use the ice cup and he enjoyed the cold pack on his neck after I finished massaging his lump. Going along with all of that has been some thorough grooming and hair removal, and at last we’re making progress. He doesn’t look quite so much like a pudgy Shetland pony anymore.

All this time together without the work of riding sessions has been good for our bonding. I’m ready and anxious to get back to riding, though, and start some trail rides early in the year this year. But first I have to clean the saddle and bridle which are waiting in the laundry/tack room.

On the art front, I’ve talked to my new mentor who has given me his fee for lessons which is very reasonable. That was a big relief. We’ll get together one more time to sort of plan things out, and then the lessons will begin. I can hardly wait!

In the meantime, I’ve also been going to doctor appointments and dealing with yet another computer problem. At this moment I can’t send emails and can’t post much on online forums and am trying to figure out what’s wrong. Sometimes the letters type in reverse order which is very disconcerting. So far everything off line is working. If I owe you an email, be patient with me while I work to resolve this issue.

On Monday I’ll be getting an MRI of my head ( my daughter says it’s about time I got my head examined! Cheeky one that. ) Well, actually it will be four MRI’s that the ear, nose and throat doctor prescribed. I hope they will reveal why I can’t shake these sinus infections, what’s causing the dizziness and head aches and ear aches and why I’m hearing my pulse in my ears 24/7. Not that I’m obsessing or anything, but I would like some answers and preferably some cures.

Oh, all right! You twisted my arm so here’s another photo of my handsome boy. Isn’t he cute?!