Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Mare and Foal in Pencil

An intimate moment passes between a mare and her foal. I love the shapes in this drawing. The foal is at its most vulnerable, and only a portion of the mare is shown to illustrate her size in contrast, while she stands over the baby protectively. I tried to show how the light was hitting the foal softly, as it might through a stall window.

This is pencil and conte on grey charcoal paper, about 10 x 13".

Monday, April 27, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Ruffian

After my other Ruffian portrait sold on eBay, I was commissioned to do another by one of the bidders who didn't win. This one is still colorful, but very different, showing Ruffian in a more regal pose. This is oil pencil and conte, about 8 x 10".

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Brumbies in Pastel

I don't know if these are actual brumbies. In fact I am not sure of the definition of brumbie. I just wanted to say brumbie because I like the word. But I was so excited when Gecko, who lives in Australia, asked me to paint her three horses. Gecko has been following my blog for a good spell now. We discussed how to best paint her darlings and decided to do them on black. Since there are three horses featured, I wanted to do it fairly large, about 12 x 18". She provided me with an excellent photo and I did an outline in white pencil.

Since I am left handed, I've found that the best way to work in pastel is from right to left, bottom to top, since I will smear everything otherwise. So rather than blocking the whole thing out, I start on the farthest right horse.

The horse is a nice red bay with dramatic white star. Since he is on black, I have to invent my own sort of backlighting, which I do just by exaggerating the light from the original photo. I rough him in with conte crayon and then do the detail work in oil pencil. The colors go on in red, brown, terra cotta and yellow. I draw some of the hairs individually and add some blue and bright white highlights.

The center horse is darker in color, and I use the opposite technique on him. I begin with a grey oil pencil, and then go over it with a conte crayon.

Now I am roughing in the lone chestnut. I begin with a terra cotta conte crayon and then do the next layer in oil pencil to detail the face. The neck and mane is highlighted in varying shades of conte, with a bright white along the top of the neck.

The black background adds a dramatic touch and some depth to this finished portrait. Big thanks to Gecko!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Mini Pastel

With this painting, a whole unexpected story unfolded. This is a mini pastel, about 3 x 5". I finished it yesterday. Today I had a meeting with Arminda Presgrove, owner of The Walking Horse Gallery in Lansing. I took in several framed originals, including this small piece. It was my first time visiting this gallery, and I spent some time walking around admiring the diversity of the work there. The place had a bright, colorful feel to it, with a selection of equine prints and originals, as well as wood carvings, tapestry, and handmade jewelry. It is such a warm and delightful environment.

I was sitting in the back room of the store, filling out the required acquisition forms, when Arminda came into the room with a customer. "This is the artist," she told the lady. I shook her hand. The lady was admiring the work on my various packs of note cards which were spread out on the table.

Arminda said, "Nancy wrote, 'Clifford of Drummond Island'."

"Oh!" the lady said. "I'm from the U.P."

"Really? Whereabouts?"

"Sault Ste Marie. My family name is Flynn."

My first thought was, No! Couldn't be! But I said, "Maybe you are related to my college professor."

Her face lit up. She was indeed the niece of my wonderful creative writing professor, Michael Flynn of LSSU. I happened to have a copy of, "Holding the Ladder" with me, and I asked if she would take it to him. I signed it and wrote, "This is all because of you!"

Mike Flynn was a wonderful inspiration and encouragement to me, and is a big part of the reason I am still writing today.

His neice spent two hours visiting in the gallery with us, and bought this original piece as a birthday gift for her granddaughter.

I left there with a feeling of serendipity that is becoming more and more prevalent in my days. I wonder if this is a sign of encouragement for my writing efforts -- which recently have endured a barrage of almost debilitating blows, due to an unlucky encounter with some unscrupulous individuals.

I could see the sharp, hawk-eyed gaze of Professor Flynn, his quick, brilliant smile, his words of genuine appreciation and encouragement. Of all the influential people to come into my life, this would be the guy I needed to hear from the most. He had once said to me, "As good as I am a teacher, you are equally as good a student." I considered it the highest compliment.

I told his niece I didn't know if Mr. Flynn would remember me, but, it didn't matter. The message came through anyway:

"Keep writing!"

To the Universe: Thanks, I needed that!

The Best Swan Pic

He came up for bread today, leaving his mate on the nest to tend the eggs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stewie Beef

Yeah, I know, he looks so sweet and innocent! He comes when I call him, loves riding in the car and likes to sit by my feet. But what is up with the sporadic and indiscriminate peeing? Sometimes he holds it, sometimes he doesn't, even in the crate! He's on his second course of antibiotics. How long can this go on?!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today's Equine Art - With Cattle Dog!

My brother Jon and I were in Washington last summer, visiting a rancher who raised horses. There was a whole conversation going on, but this little drama was happening in the background as I was snapping photos. The colt was clearly trying to get this dog's attention!

This piece is about 12 x 16".

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Today's Equine Art - ACEO

The photo doesn't do justice to this watercolor; the colors are much warmer than this. I like the primary colors; they jump right out at you, which goes along nicely with a black and white spotted horse.

Handmade Papillon Ceramic Tile! I Got Down&Dirty With THIS Dog Art!

A little departure from my usual projects! I actually made this several years ago, fashioning it from clay and firing it in a friend's kiln. It came out pretty cool. I had a Papillon for twelve years named Piper, and all the Papillon art I do is in her honor. They are very photogenic and expressive little dogs.

Equine Art and Cliffy Pics Are Fine, But....

Word has it what I REALLY need to blog about is Stewie. Check out those choppers! GRRRR.... He's not chomping on me quite as hard as he used to. It's like he learns everything that a normal puppy does; it's all just coming later.

Yesterday he actually came running when I called him! Housebreaking is still a challenge. He's going on five months old, but I have to keep in mind that bladder-wise, he is currently in the stage of about an eight week old puppy. If I take him outside every fifteen minutes, he does okay. He gets really excited about praise. His eye contact is getting better all the time and recently he just started looking up at me from the floor, and he looks me right in the eye when I talk to him. I can't tell for sure if his vision is improving.

He still loves to beat up on Rip! He's happy all the time and has a real sense of fun. He weighs over seven lbs now! He's gained over three lbs since I've had him.

I got him a rope toy, which he LOVES! He swings it around, growls and snarls and shakes it! It's hysterical! I really think he's going to be okay.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Watercolor

"Miss Legs" was a favorite of mine, and I've been sitting on it for a few years but finally decided to part with her. Foaling season is starting here in Michigan. The birth rate is down due to the slow economy, which may be for the best. I do miss seeing the usual number of baby pictures though. So this girl will always be a baby, always in that new stage of discovering the world. This painting is a nice size, 11 x 14", on good quality paper.

Morning Hay

The pastures are greening up, and the slanted golden light is so beautiful this morning that I pause from the chore of filling water buckets. I'm thinking the two horses having breakfast would be a nice watercolor. I decide to go back to the house to get my camera.

When I come back, the light has already changed. I take the pictures anyway thinking I might be able to bring some of it back in translation.

I'm trying to get a shot with both their heads down.

This is tricky with Mr. Nosy.

Now TRUDY'S looking!

Finally, both heads are down!

Uh oh -- He can't stand it any longer!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Pencil ACEO

This project was fun for me, since working on small pieces in pencil is probably my favorite thing to do. I have kinda fallen in love with the whole ACEO concept. The detail involved is painstaking, but it's pretty neat how much you can actually fit into this small of an area.

I am blessed this week to be moving lots of equine art, at a time when I really need the sales. Thanks to all of you who support the arts, even in this struggling economy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today's Watercolor - Western Horses

I am trying to scrape up enough cash for gas to get to Nashville for Quarterfest early next month. Hence, the current offering, which to my glee did not meet its reserve earlier this year. Now there's no reserve. I hope it gets a good home. Ugh! The sacrifices we make in times of recession....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Today's Equine Art - ACEO

I loved the backlighting on this pony. But this was a bit of a challenge -- doing something ACEO size (2.5 x 3.5") on textured charcoal paper. I had to work in extra layers to keep the image from looking bumpy.

This piece is on eBay:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stewie's Sit-Down Strike

I gotta admit, I'm stymied. What dog doesn't love to take a walk? The Lakeland Trail is pretty innocuous -- it's just a long, flat, paved, revamped railroad. I carried Stewie a good distance from the road. Then I set him down on the ground and expected him to follow along. Here's what he did.

I put a leash on him to try to coax him to follow. He simply flattened himself on the ground, with his legs stretched straight out behind so that his body resembled a bear rug. He allowed himself to be dragged along the pavement on his belly.

I ended up carrying him about a mile and a half. Finally on the way back, he decided to come to life. He ran circling around me, barking and yapping, the rest of the way.

I guess I will have to scrap any plans for him carrying a backpack.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Ruffian

I actually had some trouble with this project. I was a huge fan of Ruffian as a kid. I followed her career and kept a scrapbook of her. This is the first time since then that I have tried to do a picture of her. I hadn't looked at pictures of her in years, and when I started going through them, I was weeping! It was like being a kid all over again.

She was a big, colorful character, larger than life. From a distance the painting looks like a black horse, but up close you will see a myriad of colors. I wanted the background colors to look pink, because she was a girl, but if you look closely, you will see that they are not really pink. I decided to paint her in the act of running, because that is how she seemed to thrive. She wanted to keep going even after she broke her leg. What an incredible spirit she was! I wonder now if she is the reason my first horse was a dark bay mare.

Pastel, 8x10".

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stewie *IS* Batman!

Two days ago, I noticed for the first time that Stewie is beginning to make eye contact with me. He was riding in his crate on the seat next to me, looking out as usual, but I noticed that now when I speak to him he looks up into my eyes. He still seems to be extremely nearsighted. I've been trying to orient his gaze more and more, up toward my face. I do this by tempting him with boiled chicken liver. YUM!

He still has the bladder infection so we're continuing antibiotics. Housebreaking remains a challenge.

He's actually running in the pic below, and it shows his odd little head tilt. He sometimes runs or sits holding his head at an angle like this.

Note the priceless expression on Rip's face, below. This is what they do all day long. He usually can spot her -- he must lock in on the black and white blob pretty easily.

I like the picture above because it shows his Batman tag. The back of the tag reads, "I AM BLIND AS A BAT"!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Is Coming. No, Really!

Michigan winter, now into its sixth month, has put up a good fight this year. Yesterday it actually snowed... AGAIN. But the earth is tilting... Right? So it's just a matter of time. I had a few reassuring signs on my walk today, including this flirty swan.

He was quite anxious to show off.

...Also saw these lovely pussy willows in full bloom...

...And of course, the quintessential sign of spring: the crocus!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Today's Project - Italian Greyhound

This is another mini painting; an ACEO size, 2.5 x 3.5". It is rendered in pastel and oil pencil.

It's on eBay at:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Today's Equine Art - Barbaro

With Derby Day coming, I am inspired. Today I finished a pastel painting of Barbaro. He's on eBay.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Two Stews Forward

So I catch him out of the corner of my eye, heading for the spot where he usually pees. I don't say anything but he suddenly doubles back and comes over to where I am sitting at the table. He does his little alternate sit/down/hop, like he does when he is begging for food.

"Do you want to go outside?"

He starts to spin, wagging his tail and making it clear that yes, that is what he wants. We go to the door and he runs out and immediately squats.

I am ecstatic. "STEWIE! GOOD BOY!!!"

He comes back in and I run to the fridge and get him a big piece of chicken liver. He gulps it down happily. I scritch his belly and hug him and squeal. He wiggles and snorts in appreciation.

After we calm down, I go back to my project. As I cross the room, I step in a puddle of pee.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today's Equine Art

It's back to basics today; a mini art card size pencil drawing.

He's on eBay: