Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Looking Beyond the Dog Days of Summer

 Gandalf, Norwegian Fjord stallion

Yesterday was quite busy in a good way. First off, I saw my chiropractor for the first time in two years. At her initial assessment, her comment was, “Oh dear!”, so I’ll be going back again regularly for a while.

After that I visited an old friend and longtime riding instructor at her farm. She breeds Norwegian Fjords among many other activities and accomplishments and has some really fine breeding stock. It was an opportunity to deliver in person the painting, “Man On A Mission” a painting of her Jack Russell terrier, Spinner.

In return, I got a tour of her barn and farm and was introduced to her horses: three mares, two foals and her stallion, Gandalf. Of course, I took lots of photos, a few of which I’m sharing with you here.
The lovely mare, Luna. Look at that nice hip!
 This little guy was a nibbler, but look at those lovely dark eyes. 

Later on, I went on a trail ride with my barn friend, Ann. As we came out of the woods at twilight, the light was hitting these weeds at just the right angle, causing them to glow with this soft mauve light. They were lovely!

Since Scottie is very sore again, the vet is coming out on Saturday, and my riding guru friend-of-many-talents will come out to do an assessment on both of us to see if she can pinpoint the source of our problems and get us on the right track for more comfortable riding for both of us.

Today I also made arrangements to meet again with my local mentor in hopes that he can help me to get back on track with my artwork.

Between the three: chiropractor, vet/guru and mentor; I hope to soon make progress with health, riding and art. It's cooled down enough now that one doesn't feel quite so much like a giant, sweating slug and can contemplate activities that involve actual body movement as opposed to quiet activities in front of a fan.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sketch Book Drawings - Page One

I’m going to be brief today because I need to get out for my walk and then into the studio.

But, I have another reason as well. Having spent the weekend in front of the computer going through my inbox and reading a backlog of artist blog posts, I’ve come to realize that people probably don’t read long winded blog posts. I know I skipped a lot of them because I simply didn’t want to take the time if the subject matter wasn’t absolutely riveting. Mostly, it wasn’t. So, here goes.

I’ve been reading a book called, The Van Gogh Blues by psychologist Eric Maisel. He specializes in working with creative people and has written a number of books for creatives. This book is helping me immensely in finding my way back into the studio by giving me many insights into my personal life and my life as a creative person. Turns out I’m not so unique in my struggles after all! His main point is that creative people are born questioning everything and therefore have difficulty finding meaning in their lives. Because of a lack of meaning in their lives, creative people are prone to depression which keeps them from being creative which causes deeper depression. So, the book is all about finding your own personal meaning and keeping depression at bay. I’m not sure that “meaning” is the word that I would have chosen. “Worth” or “value” come to my mind more than meaning, so I just substitute them in my mind as I read.

The book explains to me why I had such difficulty in high school algebra (or was it geometry?) understanding the difference between a hypothesis and a theorem. One is supposed to be a proven fact and the other is something to be proven. Poor old Miss Chipman was totally exasperated with me trying to explain the difference, and I was equally exasperated trying to grasp it. We never did come to an understanding.

But, I digress. As part of my “art therapy” if you can call it that, I’ve decided to do some daily sketching. Last night I did the sketches above of a Friesian colt. They are freehand sketches. That is, I pulled some standard photo prints out of a reference box and copied the photos as nearly as I could. As you can see, one effort was a total flop and had to be redone. The others are reasonably good. They are done with a ballpoint pen to prevent me from doing endless correcting so the false lines are still visible.  I think I draw more carefully if I know I can’t erase.

I’m also thinking of instituting an art challenge on my blog which would involve “audience  participation”. I have to ruminate on that one a bit more, so stay tuned for more info.

And, stay tuned for more sketches from the sketchbook!

PS I've just noticed that I have some new followers! Welcome all!  Thank you for joining me. I hope you find my posts just a little bit riveting.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Little Painting; A Little Riding

"Yuri" Oil on canvas board

When I walked into the studio to work on the German Shepherd painting yesterday, I walked through a cobweb. That was really odd because I’m in and out of that room at least a few times a day, and it was late in the day. Perhaps someone or something is trying to tell me something?

At any rate, I worked on Yuri and gave him a nicer background but was disappointed to find that the black areas had flattened out as they dried. I’ll have to go back in and liven them up again on the final passage. Some dry brushing with some darker “black” should do the trick as well as some tidying up here and there. The painting is in danger of being overworked if it isn’t already, so I must not labor over it too much more.

I try not to use black from the tube in my paintings and have found that a mixture of French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna give a good black that can be tilted to either the warm (brown) or cool (blue) side. There are numerous ways to make a good vibrant black, and this is just one formula.

The Green Team will have to be next on the easel since someone is waiting for it to be finished and may buy it. I’ll have to sit in front of it for a while to let it tell me what it needs.

We didn’t ride on Monday night because it was too hot and humid, but we had a really nice ride on Thursday. I took along my new small digital camera and managed to get some decent shots as we rode along. One of my companions took the camera and took some shots of me riding at the end, and she got some good ones! Thanks Anne!

The big problem I have with taking photos while riding is that Scottie absolutely refuses to stand still if the other horses are moving. So, I get a lot of blurry shots. He hates being left behind even though he usually likes to dawdle in last place until we turn for home. As we say on the trail, the first horse gets all the cobwebs and bugs! Note our stylish  bug bonnets on the horses.

This camera is a Canon G ll, one of the few small digitals that still has a viewfinder. It had good reviews on the Canon site and on Amazon  and is just the right size to take on trail rides and for leaving in my car while I tootle about. I don’t dare do that with my expensive slr, and this one has a lot of the same features as the big slrs do. It even does video! I have a lot to learn to use it to its capacity, but so far I’ve been quite pleased with it. I took back the first one because I just couldn’t deal with not having a viewfinder and not being able to see what I was shooting on the LCD screen in sunlight.

We had an easy ride Thursday because Stutz has been lame again and Scottie seemed a bit off when we started out. However, he trucked right to the front this time because we didn’t go down the steep hill this time but went down the gentle hill instead past the chickens on our way out. Thankfully, they weren’t out by the road. We stuck mostly to the sand trails and had a most pleasant ride. It had cooled off considerably, and the bugs weren’t bad.

Here we are about to leave the barn.

Partway through the ride.

This is Scottie and I. I have a Michigan shirt on. Go Blue!!

Isn’t this a gorgeous shot? It was getting dark as we headed back to the barn. This is also about where I was unhorsed a month ago.