Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ride, Ride, Ride!

Viburnum in Bloom

I spoke with my mentor about the still life setup I showed you in my last blog post, and he agreed that it was too ambitious for the small size of the painting (8x10 inches). So, I’m just going to use some pieces of fruit instead and that little blue pitcher. Tomorrow I’ll set up the new still life and concoct the medium mixture he wants me to use, if I can get the top off of the turpentine, that is. Don't you just hate those child proof caps?

I managed to get in some much-needed weeding this week, too. Yesterday I unearthed a baby brown snake which was only about 6 inches long. I haven’t seen a snake in a very long time, so this was kind of exciting in a good way. Snakes don’t bother me, but bugs are another matter.

My viburnum is blooming now for the first time ever! I’ve had it for about ten years, and it just hasn’t done much until now. It’s very pretty with the large clusters of white flowers.

We’re dealing with the invasion of the caterpillars again this year, and they can be really nasty! I cleaned a nest out of our flowering crab apple tree, and they promptly built another. I took that one down and seem to have gotten all the caterpillars that were in the tree this time. So far, they haven’t built another nest.

Over around the barn it’s much worse although the trees haven’t been denuded as much as they were last year. When I brought Scottie in from the turnout on Thursday, there were hundreds of caterpillars of all sizes marching along the boards of the fence and along the electric fence wire seeking out another feeding tree. Fortunately, they haven’t been much of a problem on our trail rides, and we just flick them off when they occasionally land on us. As long as they don’t bite or sting, I can handle them.

We went on another trail ride Thursday night, and I rode in the arena yesterday afternoon. I’m really going to make an effort to ride more often this year which will be good for both Scottie and I. A weekly sketching session of live horses will be excellent practice for me, too.

Before riding yesterday, I took some photos at the barn. The horses were out on pasture for the first of two sessions per day, and they were busy stuffing their faces as fast as they could. Normally when you go out amongst the horses, you’re mobbed by at least two if not more, but yesterday they were much more interested in grass than in a human in their midst.

I got some pretty good photos, too; even some to use for paintings.

This week will be busy because my kids are coming home for the Memorial Day weekend, and I need to do some serious house cleaning and meal planning. But I don’t want to miss riding or delay that still life any longer. It’s going to be a very hot week, so I’ll put off any gardening until it cools off.

That’s all for now. I hope to have some art to show you next time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tea Anyone?

“Morning Tea” setup for still life

No sooner did we get Scottie’s leg problem under control than he showed up with a swollen eye last week! Panic time and another call to the vet (after hours, of course). Fortunately, cold compresses and some bute took away much of the swellling, and he was then able to open his eye. Neither Shelley nor I could see any damage to the cornea, the eye wasn’t weeping, he wasn’t shaking his head or rubbing it, so we decided that either he was stung by something or he poked the eye lid with a twig. Now he is fine and another bullet has been dodged.

On the art front, I attended a gala gathering of artist members of Parkside Arts Council on Saturday night. We were invited to bring along some art, but the space was not conducive to good viewing. Hermit that I am, I didn’t know very many people at the gathering. But, I managed to chat with a few people for an hour before they all moved off and I became my usual wall flower self. Since the smoke from the fire was bothering me by then, I packed up and left. Hopefully, a few people saw my art and now know who I am and what I can do.

One thing I learned is to be careful where you take your art. The venue was an old ski lodge with an open pit type fire place. Since the lodge is really quite small, smoke filled the room, and I’m still airing out my portfolios and hoping the smokey smell will eventually fade from my artwork. Clothes I can wash, but not artwork!

I’ve been struggling to set up my still life for over a week now and have an arrangement that is promising. But now I’m second guessing myself and wondering if I bit off more than I can chew for this simple exercise. It might be time to consult with my mentor and see what he thinks.

Good! Another excuse to put off doing the  painting! I’ve included a photo of the setup above.

Back at the barn, three of us gals went on a glorious trail ride last night. It was even better than the last one since we were able to do some trotting and cantering  and ended up with a big gallop up the long hill to the barn. Scottie was winded but recovered fast, and there was very little heat in his injured tendon after the ride. We poulticed his legs anyway and turned him out.

Partway through the ride, I was thinking about how lush the vegetation was and that it was like riding through a primordial forest. I even wondered if we might meet a dinosaur (hey, I'm an artist; we have lively imaginations!). Not long after that we were going along a two track when the sound of a rattle trap vehicle approaching at high speed reached us. Quickly, we moved the horses off the road into the trees and waited for the beat up old pickup truck to pass us by. Fortunately, he slowed down, and only Elle, the novice trail horse, was at all concerned.

That was certainly a rude return to reality!

When I left the barn, there was a glorious sunset of orange, peach, gold and lavender which I enjoyed in bits between the trees all the way home, wondering how I could possibly capture such beauty in paint.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way Through The Forum

 Before shedding out    

 After shedding out

I’ve been going through the forum of an artists group that I belong to, copying the most informative posts, and it’s been quite educational but very time-consuming. I read far more than I need to, remembering past discussions and the great comaraderie and friendships that we have developed over years of association.

One of the things we did regularly was share our artwork and ask for help. Time after time I noticed that artists didn’t always agree on what needed to be changed or added. What bothered one artist might not bother another at all. What some artists didn’t notice others did. I suppose that’s because we all have different training, different life experiences and are in different “places” in our lives on any given day. We are all unique, and even though there are pretty much well established basics of good fine art, our interpretations may be different and our visions unique to our life experiences and personalities.

And that explains why ten artists can paint the same image and come up with ten different and unique interpretations of that image. You can find excellent examples of this on the art pARTy blog. Every month a photo is shared and artists paint the same image however they want. Take a look through several months of pARTy images and you’ll see what I mean.

The other wonderful thing about this forum is that so many artists have been willing to share what they’ve learned even though we are all in a niche market and technically are competing with one another. That is not the case in many art groups. On the other hand, as evidenced by the pARTy paintings, no two of us paint exactly alike. And fortunately, what appeals to one collector may not to another collector, so we all manage to “rehome” our artwork children.

The gems of information I’m getting from the forum will be compiled into a reference work for the membership. You can only gain so much from reading how-to art books. Practical information and the experiences of working artists can be even more valuable, especially when sharing our experiences with materials and techniques; what works and what doesn’t. It saves a lot of trial and error.

Tux (retired TB dressage horse)

Speaking of what works, I made a huge discovery this week on the riding front which promises to make my riding experiences much more pleasant and fruitful. I discovered the full seat breech! In all my twenty some years of riding, I’ve never spent the extra money to buy a pair. The moment I plopped into the saddle on Tuesday I had a real Eureka! experience. I stayed put in the saddle and didn’t have to constantly adjust my seat to stay in balance. Instantly, I regretted not investing in these wonders 21 years ago when I went back to riding.

On Thursday night we went for a very pleasant trail ride. The leaves are now mostly out on the trees, so our ride looked more like my photos from the last blog post. Trillium carpeted the forest floor with white and pink flowers, and since we’ve had rain, everything was lush and green. It was chilly but we all bundled up, and the horses didn’t get all sweaty.

Yesterday was Spring Vet day at the barn. I was really happy to get a second opinion on Scottie’s lameness issues and a few other things. As we suspected, he tore a ligament in that front leg, but it’s pretty much healed now. He isn’t lame in that leg now but is off a little in the other foreleg, probably as a result of favoring the injured leg. The vet prescribed lots of riding, including our hilly trail rides, to prevent the injury site from healing stiff. Lots of riding and bending will also help the arthritis spot in his neck.

I was happy to hear the vet say that Scottie has excellent range of motion for a 25 year old horse, and his joints are in good shape. Scottie will be happy to learn that we are to do stretches before AND after riding now. That means more cookies for him!

The Peanut Gallery: Mikey, Ellie, Jack, JW and Cory