November 26, 2008

Between Friends

While we were on the cattle drive in Gunnison, us ladies brought up the rear of the heard, chasing stragglers and pushing the tiring cows and calves forward.
We had about 450 cattle in the herd, and they were stretched out over a mile on a dirt county road. We could barely see the front of the herd, where Shane and his collie were working.

I like the way this image captures the moment. One of the things my art does is illustrate relationships- relationships between animals, between humans and animals, and between humans. For many women, relationship is incredibly important, so in colors every aspect of their lives. This image is a great example. Nora and Lolly are good friends, and really enjoyed chatting as we worked and drove the cattle.

The painting itself is done in livestock marker (very appropriate!). It's one of the first that is more of a landscape with lots of things going on in it. I'm happy with it overall, but I feel like the figures aren't as well executed as the rest of the painting. The human figure is my weak point, and I need to continue to work on it. I think that overall they are ok, but they just don't have quite the same loose flow that the rest of the painting does.

November 18, 2008

Ruby & the Roan Mare

One of my girlfriends invited me on a cattle drive outside of Gunnison, CO the weekend of halloween. There were five of us "City Slickers" (all horsewomen, but with little or no ranch experience) who came up from the Front Range, and two men who lived on the ranch. It was great spending a weekend with a group of people I didn't know, in a place I'd never been and very isolated (45 minutes to the nearest town).
Riding back to the ranch after the drive, I saw tons of bones and skulls, which I love to collect. (I was only able to stuff one skull in each saddle bag, so I had to go back!)

That evening as we were sitting around the dinner table, I announced that I was going to go find and collect the bones the next morning. The foreman, Shane, asked how I planned on getting the bones back to the ranch. I said, "I don't know, but I'll figure something out." He offered to hitch up his team and we could all go for a wagon ride, and get my bones! It was perfect!

The team consisted of two VERY big girls, one who's name was Ruby and the other didn't have a name. When Shane first hooked them up, Ruby was wild and belligerent, she almost broke the traces and singletree. Once he got them moving forward she settled right in. It soon became obvious who was doing all of the work, because the poor roan mare was sweating like crazy, and Ruby was

barely warm. Shane kept poking her in the butt with a stick, which helped for a few strides. When we were going up or down a hill, the roan put all her weight into the harness, and Ruby just trotted along, slowing down every time she felt the weight of the wagon. What a stinker!

I took tons of photos, which I'm beginning to use in my artwork. I did two small (5"x7") scratchboard pieces of Ruby (black horses are fun to do scratchboard of). The first is called "Back to Work", which is why she has such a worried expression on her face. The second is "Break Time" (of course, Ruby's favorite time).

November 13, 2008

Splash and musings

The only time I've noticed horses so completely comfortable in each other's space is in mother/daughter pairs. I love this image from a photo of Luna and Wenona playing in the water. These two weren't even worried about laying down practically on top of each other. The other day I noticed that same comfort level as Ana was leading the two of them to the grooming area. They were side by side, bumping into each others' bellies and butts. I decided that I want to train them to stay that close together in the arena so I can try 'riding' both of them at the same time, standing on their backs. I'm sure I'll end up on the ground, but sounds like too much fun to pass up!! (I promise I'll wear my helmet, Mom!)

This piece is scratchboard/gaouche, 10"x12". I've submitted it to the Old West Museum juried "Spirit of the West" show, along with "Something in Motion". Wish me luck!

One thing I've noticed lately is that I've been very focused and on task. in the past when I've worked alone, I've had a really really hard time keeping myself focused, but the last few months have been realy easy for me to do so

November 03, 2008

Something In Motion

I concieved of this piece when my daughter Katie showed me a drawing that she did of a unicorn, and the flying mane on the withers reminded me of a bird lighting on the horses back. The idea swam around in my head for a few days, and within that time a small flock of magpies began to visit the farm every morning when I was feeding. I began noticing magpies everywhere, crossing my path while I was driving, outside my home. I decided that I needed to put a magpie on the back of the horse in my painting. But, I thought, I've never seen a magpie on a horses back. Usually the little black birds (I think starlings or maybe grackles) hang out with horses.

Within a few days, I picked up a brochure about a wild horse sanctuary in South Dakota, opened it up, and there was a photo of a magpie on a horses back. A few days after that, I walked out of the goat barn at the farm and there was a magpie perched on the butt of a new pony who just moved in the previous day.
It was all so serendipitous, and it reminded me of a concept in a book I'm reading called "Hanta Yo" about the traditional life of a Lakotah tribe a few hundred years ago. Their concept of god or life force was very holistic, it could be summed up in the phrase 'something in motion'.

As I was working on this painting, as it 'popped' for me (really came to life and excited me) I decided to call it "Something In Motion".

Believe it or not, as I was finishing this painting, the magpies had congregated in front of the motorhomw where I've put my new bones from my trip last weekend. I hung several skulls and bones on the fence outside my window. As I was working I looked up and saw a bird perched on top of one of the skulls. I wish I had a camera!!!

The finished piece


This is a fun series of photos of the portrait I'm doing of Beau for Tomi. I used chalk pastel on a board that had a lot of tooth to it.

I started out by sketching in the shapes and filling in color areas, rubbing and blending the colors into the board.

I continue to fill in the color areas, getting more detailed with the shadows and highlights, defining shapes and details.

Then started working the details with the hard pastel, not blending it but using the edge to define lines and shapes.

Viola! The finished drawing.