Friday, October 22, 2010

Today's Equine Art - Secretariat

I break out of an artistic hiatus with another portrait of Secretariat, the big red horse who, even years after his death, still continues to inspire the masses. I was eleven years old when I watched him win the Belmont Stakes. It still gives me goosebumps. I'm so glad I got to see it happen live.

This is oil pencil, approximately 9 x 12".

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today's Project - Dolphins

More victims of the Gulf oil spill -- I think this is my subconscious attempt to make them okay.

This piece is oil pencil and pastel on grey charcoal paper, about 10 x 13". It is on eBay. As the ad explains, the scan doesn't do justice to the myriad of colors in this piece -- there are blues, purples, yellow and other hues blending to add depth and movement to the scene.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Clifford Rearing

Clifford is doing really well on his new trick, now learning to use and "strike out" with his front feet a little. We will work on a little longer "up" time as his muscles strengthen. He really enjoys doing this trick! Here are a couple of funny shots his Aunt Vickie snapped today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today's Project - Brown Pelican

Feeling pretty sad today about the situation in the Gulf -- so I drew this pelican as a sort of prayer for the birds and other wildlife. This is about 11x15", oil pencil, called, "To Blue Water".

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Today's Project - Raven

This was a commission for someone's dad who likes to feed eggs to a raven friend. She asked for a collage and I wanted to make it sort of mystical, due to all the lore associated with the raven. This is 11x15", pastel on grey charcoal paper.

Learning to Rear on Cue

His rearing trick is coming along well!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today's Project - Palomino

Here's a Palomino who's just a tetch excitable. This piece is listed on eBay.

Clifford Walks for Autism

My Morgan is a kid magnet! He enjoyed the attention of a crowd at the Flushing Michigan Walk for Autism on Saturday. Clifford performed with the Classic K9 Dog Show and did his tricks for an enthusiastic audience. He spent the rest of the afternoon posing for pictures like this!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Clifford is working with a new target stick -- a modified longe whip. Even after years of longeing, in just a few minutes, Clifford figured out that he needed to follow the stick instead of moving away from it. Surprised the heck out of me! He was trotting BEHIND it instead of AHEAD of it, following it over little jumps and everything! Is this just using another part of the brain, or what? Hoodathunk he could still have such a bag of tricks after all these years.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Clifford's Book Signing Debut

I was a little concerned when I woke up to raging winds on the day of Clifford's debut at Borders Books. It was blowing so hard that some of the young trees were bending over and the rain was flying sideways. The forecast called for 40 mph winds all day, along with temperatures dropping to 40 degrees.


I called Jon Sheldon, my friend who had volunteered to bring his truck, hitch up Wheelzebub and haul Clifford to Brighton for the show. Jon had a prior engagement later that morning. "I don't want to put Clifford through this," I said. "You go ahead and go to your other thing, and we can wait and see if the weather clears."

Over the course of the morning I discussed weather et al with Clifford's publicity consultant, Ken Scarnegie and we decided to cancel the event. We knew that no press would show up and probably not much public either. Besides, we wouldn't be able to set up the tent in this wind. I knew the layout of the Borders store and couldn't think of a spot that would be dry and safe for Clifford to sign books. We asked, but even though Clifford is basically housebroken, they were not going to let him inside the store.

Several minutes after the decision was reached, I got a call back from Ken. "We have another problem here," he said. "The Borders manager just told me they have corporate people coming."

"You know what? I'm going over there. I'm going to just see what the weather is like in Brighton and get an idea of the situation."

My friend Vickie Sheathelm showed up from Roscommon about that time and we drove to Brighton together. We were greeted by a very enthusiastic Borders staff. They had a table set up with fifty or so books on it. I placed Clifford's painting on an easel behind the table and sat down to do the signing by myself.

The local store manager, Dan, came out and introduced himself and said, "We can have Clifford back in the loading dock. It's protected from the wind."

He walked me back behind the store and showed me the enormous three-sided loading dock with high brick walls. I really wanted Clifford to be there. I decided if worse came to worst, this would work.

I called Ken. "You know what? We're going to do this. When you get here, we'll take your truck and go get Clifford."

Ken arrived and we drove back to the farm in Gregory and hauled Wheelzebub with a big white truck that has, "K9 Classic" on the sides of it.

I showed him the loading dock and Ken said, "No. We didn't go through all this to have Clifford behind the store. Does Vickie know Clifford well enough to unload and handle him while you go inside and sign books?"

"She does, but I have to stay with Clifford," I said.

I unloaded Cliffy and we walked right up to the front door of Borders and we stayed there all afternoon. It was cold, but there was a small lee from the wind there. People came. They had heard my radio interview the day before, or, they happened to be driving by and spotted a horse, and stopped to look.

Clifford was in his element. Out in the parking lot, the wind swirled and blew icy rain, but in our little corner, Clifford greeted people and posed for photos like the pro that he is.

His book signing efforts were sporadic events. He managed to get paint all over his nose, and all over me, but he was more interested in checking out the people who showed up, especially the little kids, and looking at himself in the window.

I didn't recognize the corporate manager of Borders, who stood watching the proceedings for a long time, while Clifford did his tricks and greeted people and made them laugh.

"I can't get over how calm he is," he told Ken, later. "Nothing scares him. And the bond between him and his owner is so obvious. This is amazing."

I answered questions about Clifford all that day, and told them that this is the trademark of the Morgan horse; their gregarious nature, their acceptance and curiosity in new situations.

I said to Ken, "Do you understand now why I have to stay with Clifford?"

"Oh yes," he said. "Absolutely."

Borders sold a stack of books that day; I am not sure how many exactly. We had offered to buy back the remaining few, but they said no, they were keeping them! By the end of the afternoon, it was settled. Clifford's new job is to sell books. We're going on tour.

Monday, May 3, 2010

3 New Clifford Paintings

Countdown to Clifford's book signing debut: 5 days! Just took him for a little ride. He was in rare form, playing around a lot, and then he blasted up the hill like a contender for the Kentucky Derby.

After the ride, we worked on some new paintings. In his enthusiasm, Clifford got paint all over everything today, including himself and me.

"Still Life", 11x15" I like the way he "grounded" this with the horizontal lines of color at the bottom.

"Apple Tree," I love this! The sweeping feel of it, and the flashes of color. This is his smallest piece so far, being only 9x12".

"Forsythia," 11x15", bright and bold!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Clifford's Book Signing at Borders Bookstore

It's not every day you get the chance to have a book about a horse signed -- by the horse! Clifford will be making his debut appearance to sign his own books -- and his first time at a real bookstore! Borders in Brighton Michigan is hosting a big birthday bash for Clifford (who turns 19 this month) on May 8th, from 2-4 pm. Stop by and wish him a happy birthday, and pick up a copy of his trilogy, "Clifford of Drummond Island", "Return to Manitou", and "Clifford's Bay."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Drummond Island Wildlife Print

I did this pen and ink drawing several years ago and it's the first time I ever had people standing in line to buy something from me. Although I prefer this in the original black and white version, everyone seemed to want theirs hand-colored, so I sat there coloring away while they waited patiently.

I have left out a few significant residents on the Island; including some that are special to me like the broad-winged hawk and kingfisher, and timber wolf. But there are always opportunities for future versions.

This is on eBay.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Ride of Spring

Clifford was in rare form today, eager to hit the road. I had a lot of preliminary work to do, pulling the burrs from his mane, forelock and tail. It took over an hour. He endured it all pretty patiently, but when he saw me getting books and watercolors out, he started getting excited. I can think of few things this horse likes better than painting. At any rate, he was able to vent his artistic urges on six or seven books. I gave him a couple of peppermints and then said, "Come on," and he followed me back into the stall. When I went out, he turned around and tried to follow me back out. I slid the door shut and he pinned his ears! Man, he was mad! He just wanted to keep signing books. I took some pictures of a few of our pages and listed one on eBay. I may list more.

I went and got the saddle and put it on him. He was so fidgety and excited from all this attention that he could barely stand still. When I pulled out the camera, he did manage to stand still just for a moment, to strike a pose.

We went down the road. I've been a little concerned about his knee this year, but have started dosing him with StemEquine. He did feel a little stiff in the beginning, but as we went along I felt him loosening up. We walked a couple of miles, and sure enough, by the time we got back to the bottom of the big hill, he was ready to rock and roll. He at first tried to gallop up across the neighbor's groomed lawn, to their hilltop. I pulled him back and kept him on track until we got to our driveway. He was dancing around and started rolling his head. I was cracking up! "You are behaving so badly!" I said. But I had a twinge -- that twinge of complete happiness known as the peak experience. It has been a long while since I've felt that.

"Oh, all right." I let him go. We blasted up that hill. The arthritis, the winter fat, the years fell away from both of us, for those windblown, galloping moments.

Being together for seventeen years causes you to know someone so well, but there is still so much joy in these routines. I am grateful to have a long term friend like Clifford.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Today's Equine Art - Morgan Horses

I sometimes wonder if Clifford and Trudy know they are brother and sister. They are best buddies. Here they pause in a brief moment of mutual grooming. This rough sketch captures the movement and life in the portrait.

EBay link.

More "Color Horse" art, a Palomino Morgan in pastel on black, about 9x12".

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Today's Equine Art

This piece will be framed and sold tonight (hopefully) at the Michigan Morgan Futurity Gala. If it no-sales tonight, it will go up on eBay tomorrow. This is pastel, 10 x 13" on black charcoal paper.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blue Heron Watercolor

One of my favorites. Those of us who frequent shorelines and wetlands have certainly heard the familiar croak of this enormous bird. I've seen herons all over the country, from the rivers in Arizona to the rocky shores of my own Drummond Island Michigan. Natives and lovers of Drummond might be able to see the shape of the island camoflauged in the wing feathers -- to others it is just a nice watercolor of a big wading bird.

Ebay Link

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Old Kitty Art

Last night while looking for some charcoal paper I came across a pad that still had this drawing in it -- from 1995! It's a portrait of red and ruddy Somali kittens. I drew this during my period of temporary insanity (when I was still married and showing cats.) I am not sure what I was going to do with this piece, but it's on eBay now.

eBay link

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Today's Equine Art - The Color Horse

He started out as a Friesian, but just became more and more colorful the longer I worked on him. Now he resembles a sculpture or carousel horse.

Pastel on black charcoal paper, approx 11 x 15".

Ebay Link

The Horse Who Signs His Own Biography

Clifford cracks me up. He and Trudy came running in for dinner this afternoon. I had this proof copy of the new book, "Clifford's Bay", which I decided to put up on eBay today. I told Clifford I had peppermints. I set the book on the barn aisle floor, propping it open with horseshoes as usual while he watched from his stall. I had a sponge all ready with color on it and laid it on the open facing page.

I slid his stall door open and he walked out and went directly to the book, and began pushing the sponge around. "Good boy!" I said. I gave him a peppermint, and then he started painting again. He earned two more peppermints and then I decided that was enough. I said, "Come on," and I went back toward his stall. He turned around as if to follow me, but when he saw where I was going, he just stopped and stood there looking at me.

"Come on," I said. "Come in here. Don't you want another mint?"

I even showed him the mint, and he actually turned around and went back to the book and started painting again! He wanted to keep working!

Forsaking candy for the creative endeavor? I guess he really is a true artist. I wish I had more books for him to sign.

Ebay link.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Today's Equine Art - Colors

Here is something a little different - a Friesian on black. I like the life and flow in this piece, with the soft mix of colors. On black charcoal paper, approx. 9 x 12"

Ebay Link

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today's Dog Art - Newfoundland

I still love painting Newfs after having lived with one for 11 years. From a distance this appears to be a black dog on black, but up close you can see that there are primary colors used for highlights and shading. This is approx. 9 x 12" on black charcoal paper.

This piece is on eBay for one day only.

Ms. Rip Update

Several people thought that after our episode yesterday, Ms. Rip would want to stay away from the horses. Not so! Today she was eager to be back at work, keeping an eye on them as always. I did, however, leave Trudy penned up and Clifford was the only one to come out. He will roll a dog with his nose, but he never kicks at them.

Ms. Rip appears to be none the worse for wear, although I am keeping an eye on her and watching for any signs of seizure. So far so good. I think we got lucky.