Friday, October 29, 2010

The Green Team Revisited

I’ll keep this very brief today, but I did want to share with you the fact that I’ve finally gotten back to work on this painting which has been languishing on the studio wall for over a year now.  You may remember this painting of the Belgian draft horses at a horse pull which I started a very long time ago.

Having finished one small painting and started another in the past two weeks, my confidence was restored enough to tackle this one. To be perfectly frank, I’ve been dreading doing the trailer because my references for it are so poor. I’m having to guess about reflections and hope for the best. After two working sessions what you see above is where the  painting is now. I’m not sure about the reflected grass on the lower part of the trailer, but I’ll address that later when the paint is dry. I think a glaze over it with some blue will tone it down and make it more believable.

As I mentioned, I have someone interested in buying the painting, so I really MUST get it finished! In the next session, I'll work on the horses, and that will bring it close to being finished.

Last night at the barn I had kind of a funny moment with my horse, Scottie, that goes back to the talk with the animal communicator. I was saddling him up and tightening the girth. I was debating whether or not to take it up one more notch which seemed kind of tight when Scottie turned around and gave me a disgusted look. I could almost hear him saying, “Now you KNOW  I told you that I don’t like the girth so tight, so why are you doing it again?” I let the buckle out, and he was happy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A New Painting and Barn Fairies

I started a brand new painting yesterday. It’s my first since last winter, and I’m quite excited about it. In keeping with my resolve to paint only images which excite me and aren’t too challenging for the time being, I chose to do a little painting of one of our cats when she was a kitten. She was four months old when we rescued her from going to animal control where her chances of being adopted were not good. So, she was pretty much out of the really cute kitten stage but grown up enough to tell that she was going to be a beautiful cat.

Annie came to us round about from a neglectful home. In a word when we got her, she stunk! She had feces caked to her behind and other parts, so as soon as I got her home from the initial vet check the next day, she got a bath. As with so many things, she took this scary adventure in stride and bounced back with kitten-like vigor.

Annie was loaded with personality and energy and curious about everything. She was often naughty but so full of personality that she wiggled her way into our hearts. She grew into a beautiful, long haired cat but suffered from some sort of intestinal malfunction for most of her life. Just before Christmas two years ago, we had her put to sleep because she had declined so much.

I still miss her terribly.

At any rate, this little painting is an oil on 6x6 inch gallery wrapped canvas. I started by toning the canvas with a mixture of yellow ochre and naples yellow and then drew the main features directly on the canvas with burnt umber. That’s the first stage you see here. The main thing was to get everything in proper proportion.

I continued by laying on the first few layers of paint, starting with her eyes and making adjustments as I went. The yellow ochre/naples yellow mixture was painted in as the base for her coat. The darker areas are a mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt umber. When I had the main features fleshed (or furred) out, I quit for the day to let the painting dry before continuing.

What has me particularly enthused about THIS painting is figuring out that I can draw directly on the canvas without a preliminary drawing on paper and have it come out well. I’ve only done one other cat painting in my life, and that was a commission years ago in pastel. This painting has really boosted my confidence, and I should have no problem finishing it in record time.

Last night, I had a really good ride on The Great Pumpkin as Scottie is known in the fall. He was moving out better and managed ground poles with no problem. Since Ann and I were the only ones to ride, we played barn fairies afterward while the horses dried off. She swept the barn aisle while I mucked out Elle’s stall. Or, should I say Miss Piggy’s stall?

This morning I got a call from the vet letting me know that Scottie’s selenium level is very low; just as I suspected. If we up his supplement a little, maybe he won’t be so stiff and muscle sore as he has been for so long.

I’m crossing my fingers!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Trail Ride and A Finished Painting

                           "Winter Scotch" 8x10 oil on canvas board

Last Saturday was our second annual birthday ride at the barn, and we had a really good time, with one small glitch. We gathered in the morning for donuts and coffee and then saddled up and rode for over an hour. When we got back, we ate a potluck lunch and gabbed some more for a while before going our separate ways.

The weather was perfect; sunny and relatively warm although the wind was chilly. There was still enough color left in the trees to make for a very pretty ride which even the horses seemed to enjoy.

Unfortunately for Shelley, one of her horses suddenly came up lame after a roll in the dirt, and she stayed  behind for a while to make sure he was going to be all right. He has an arthritic knee and had once before gotten a “floater” stuck in the wrong place, causing him much pain until he managed to dislodge it again.  Before we left he seemed fine, and Shelley promised to saddle up shortly and catch up to us. Our ride was almost over by the time she did on her exhausted mare.

I’m posting some of the many photos I took here. 

On Monday I finished the painting, “Winter Scotch” which I did almost two years ago. It’s a painting of my horse, Scottie, in his winter woolies. My goal was to capture that plush look that horses have in their winter coats, and the painting turned out really well after the revisions. Unfortunately, this photo doesn’t do it justice, and I’m going to have to find a better way to photograph it.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the photos.

                               The road where the bear was spotted last summer

                     This is a definite candidate for a future painting!
                                                                     Calling Shelley

                Colorful leaves making a pretty pattern on the ground
                                            Back at the barn
                                      Lunch buffet in the tack room

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Art and Animal Communication

Oh, my goodness! It’s been such a long time since I last posted that I decided to share with you what I’ve been up to even though I haven’t done much in the way of art.

It is color season now here in northwest lower Michigan, and I did begin a plein air painting of the lake out on the deck last week but didn’t get very far. It had been so long since I set up the french easel that I forgot how it worked and had to fool around with it for a while to get the legs extended and set up. Then I moved the easel about ten times before I found a good spot from which to paint. Next I had to set up all the other paraphernalia like the palette and paints and jar of medium, and by that time it was getting too late in the day and time to fix dinner. So, I packed it all up and brought it inside. I did, however, get one layer of paint on the board.

Since then it’s been one thing after another and I’ll probably have to finish the painting from photographs I’ve taken over the past few days when the conditions and the light were right. If I can get to it quick enough, I’ll have the benefit of being able to observe the colors and so forth from the studio window as I work.

Since my last post, I also met with my local mentor again, and he gave me some very good advice about how to handle this blocked state I seem to be in and gave me a different assignment. He suggested that I put horses aside for the time being and do some plein air painting. However, I found that going outside my comfort zone was not going to work to get me started again. So, I’ll stick with horses and just do whatever strikes my fancy.

Since my other (horse art) mentor seems to have gone MIA and is no longer responding to my emails, I’ll be on my own for now. My hope is that once I’m painting regularly again, I can get back to working with the mentors - or mentor  - again.

Another project that I undertook was doing some much needed reorganizing in the studio precipitated by buying a bunch of cheap canvas boards and then needing a place to store them. The oil and acrylic painting supplies are now moved and consolidated together as are the pastel supplies. The cameras and their accessories are also now consolidated, and I managed to make room for them to be stored together in one place. I went through all the drawers of my big desk, got rid of some things and moved others around so that everything is in better order and more convenient.

Meanwhile, back at the barn as they say, there have been complications and continued issues with Scottie's soundness. To make a long story short, I am now saddle shopping again (Oh Joy!) but may have found one that fits Scottie and that is comfortable for me. The vet has been out a couple of times, and Scottie had an acupuncture treatment the last time. It really seems to have relieved his sore back which is reason for great celebration by both of us.

I’ve been so concerned about him and his depressed attitude that I also consulted with an animal communicator who was able to reach Scottie and ask him my long list of questions. It was very enlightening, and he told us that he’s having problems in his hock or stifle, so the vet is coming out again to explore that possible source of his continued lameness problems.

I’m really fascinated by this animal communication thing and would love to learn to communicate on my own.
 Apparently, it’s now widely accepted, and my own experience with it has made me into a believer.

Last weekend my husband John and I went for a drive and stopped at this longhorn cattle farm where some cows were eating breakfast right up by the fence. I’m sharing a couple of them with you here. I’m amazed by the varieties of colors and coat patterns on these longhorns and how they skillfully maneuver their horns so that they don’t poke each other.

The rest are photos of the view from our deck taken just this morning. The leaves are falling fast now, and it won’t be long before the trees are bare and snow is in the air.

Oh, dear! Did I just say that four letter word beginning with “S”?