Wednesday, December 28, 2005

In my house, we know Christmas is over when there is some new project in the works. My husband seems to get a break from his freelance work right after Christmas, and there is usually some home-improvement project to do. His task this week is building some painting storage for me. There can never be enough space to store artwork, frames, matboard, and other big flat stuff, so he is constructing some vertical flat files under the stairs. I am spending some time in the studio too, but so far it's been on things like matting new prints, and tweaking things on my web site. My new Christmas toy is a digital SLR camera. I've been playing with it just around the house and barn, so far, but I can't wait to take it to a horse event! It is really going to come in handy when photographing horses for commissions, which leads to my topic of the day.

On my web site, I have posted new detailed information on portrait commissions, and how to think about photographing your horse. This is something that most horse owners don't think about, it seems. Folks say, oh, I've always wanted to have a portrait painted of "King". But now King is getting old and graying around the muzzle, and they don't have a single decent picture of him from his younger days. I hope the information I've provided will help, because let's face it, artists can't always work miracles. We don't know the horse personally, and don't know that he changes color with the seasons. I can usually move parts around a bit, like moving a leg back or forward, or putting the ears up. I like to photograph horses for commissions myself--I can remember things about the horse that might not come through in the photographs. Sometimes seeing how he moves helps me know more about how he's built. However, the advantage to taking lots of your own photographs of your horse is that you can photograph him at different times of day, in different lighting conditions, even in different seasons. I'm pretty much limited to the hour of time I can schedule a visit to the farm.

For more information on this, visit the part of my web site devoted to portraits:

So here's a New Year's Resolution for all horse owners: I will take lots of pictures of my horse this year!
Even if you're not ready to have his portrait painted, you'll have a nice photo record of him for your albums.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas week is here, and I'm starting to feel like I can relax. A few holiday events are behind me, my shopping is more or less done, and now we just have to wait for the big day. A five-year-old in the house can really add to the excitement. He knows exactly how many days there are until Christmas, thanks to an advent calendar. The first thing he has to do in the morning is rush out to the kitchen and open another little door. Then he counts how many closed doors are left, and announces how many days are left. That little advent calendar was worth every penny.
I really should be working in the studio tonight--I have a free evening, and some brand-new paintbrushes. I just might psych myself up to go out and paint after I finish this. Yes, it's a fact that artists sometimes really do have to psych themselves up to work. Especially when my painting time is in the evening, when it's just so easy to settle down on the couch. The thing is, usually when I do force myself to start a painting, or to start working on something in progress, then the juices start flowing and I can work contentedly for an hour or two or three. I don't know if I could paint longer than that. I don't think I've ever had that long a period of time to spend at it.
It is so much easier to get right to work when there is a new painting that I am excited to start working on. At the moment, I have one piece waiting for the final varnish to dry, and a couple of small oils on the easel, but nothing new in the works.
After Christmas, I will be getting back into full gear.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Okay, the Christmas cards are done and mailed, and the RISD Sale is behind me. This year's RISD Alumni Holiday sale was a success as usual. It's always a fun show to do. It's a comfortable, well-lit convention center hall, and the unloading and set-up is easy. This year, I had more display panels, so my booth is looking sharper than ever. I brought a new piece with me, an oil on gallery-wrap canvas, called "Nosy". If you know horses, you know how weanlings and yearlings are curious about everything. I was visiting the University of Connecticut's horse paddocks in the spring, and this guy came right over to the fence. I was shooting away with my camera, and he came too close to the fence for me to photograph him, but he stuck his nose out at me, and I loved the way the shadow of the fence fell over his face. So I got down on my knees and took a couple of shots of him like that. The in-your-face nose. When I got the photos back, I thought it would make a neat square painting, and then I discovered the 2 inch thick square gallery-wrap canvases. I had to do this piece on one of those, and I wanted it to be very bold and graphic, with the lines of the fence on the top and bottom. The piece is all about the shadows, and the eye is in shadow, but he's obviously looking at you. This painting seemed to really reach out to people. So many asked if I had a print of it, that I think I probably will create a print. And the original has already found a new home.
I can't wait to unveil the big bold one that is still on the easel now. Ever since I did a big black horse head called "Watchful Eye", my work is definitely going in a certain direction. I want horses that confront the viewer, look the viewer in the eye, draw the viewer into the horses' world. I want a non-horse person to get a sense of what a horse owner sees every day in her horse's eye.
And speaking of horses, I wish mine would tell me whether to blanket her or not. I know in my heart that she could probably be out there without a blanket most of the time. She has a run-in shed, and she's a tough, hardy Morgan. She gets a nice thick wooly coat that snow cannot penetrate. But it's cold out there. She might get a chill. And so the blanket goes on at night. At least I can sleep knowing she has this protection.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My second official day for this blog.
I am soooo behind on my Christmas card this year. Christmas cards are a pretty important part of the season for me. It's my way of staying in touch with family and friends who I have known over the years and saying, "Hey, I remember you, and I'm still thinking of you." I don't do the traditional newsletter, but have on occasion incorporated family news into the card. I hate it when I lose track of someone. People move and not everybody sends cards, and occasionally I lose someone from my list that I held dear. So if you are one of those people out there, just drop me a line or an e-mail, please. I used to draw my Christmas card every year, but since we've had a child, it's usally a photo of my son or all of us. Because those kinds of cards are the ones I love to get. It's so fun to see everyone's kids grow over the years. I save all the photo cards and the handmade cards. The "art cards" go into a special box, and the photo cards go into a huge 3-ring binder album. Anyway, I have a schedule for doing my Christmas cards, which I usually manage to stick to--I have to come up with the concept by Halloween, have the drawing part or the design done by Veteran's Day, and have it printed or reproduced by Thanksgiving. That gives me plenty of time to assemble, address, stamp and mail.
I confess, this year, I am wayyy behind deadline. I just put the photo image on CD to send to the lab. That gives me about a week to finish the rest of the card. So folks won't be getting ours quite so early this year, but I think I'll make the Christmas deadline. I hate to be so last minute. But on the flip side--most of my shopping is done, so maybe I'm just doing things in reverse this year.

P.S.--I was right--my mare is not in foal. The results did not surprise me. So now we can move on and figure out what other animals we might add to this little farm. Goats, anyone??
Okay, here goes nothing with my first blog post. I'm winding down after a full day that included a web design class to learn Dreamweaver. I have my newly redesigned site pretty much finished, and I was eager to get it uploaded onto the web today, but my USB key sort of ate my web site. Luckily, I have a copy of everything on my hard drive at home, but it was disappointing not to be able to upload my new site today.
Part of this whole equine art business thing is marketing and a big part of that nowadays is keeping an updated web site. I spend more time on marketing and bookkeeping than I do on painting. And now that the Christmas season is here, finding painting time will become more of a challenge. When you have to juggle so many things, you get really efficient at using available time, and I know that the vacation time that I get at Christmas will be used to full advantage to get as much painting in as possible.
I was up at six this morning, just to be able to drive my husband down to the dealership to drop the truck off for service, and drive him and my son home before heading to Providence. I was able to convince him to feed the horses this morning, something he rarely does, but my five-year old knows the routine, so I was pretty confident that the two of them could handle the chores.
It was a rainy, mucky day, and the paddock is full of mud, but it is warm, so the horses don't need blankets, and by tomorrow, they will both be a lovely shade of light brown from all the dried mud caked onto their lovely winter coats.
I'm awaiting word from the vet as to whether my mare is pregnant or not. She was bred this summer, to a stunningly beautiful palomino Morgan stallion, (she is also a Morgan) and after two unsuccessful tries, I had her bred once more and then trucked her home. The early ultrasound proved undefinitive, so 115 days later, I had a blood test done. Am still awaiting results. I still don't know why we can't have them just pee on a stick. You might think that you'd have to follow them around all day, waiting for them to heed nature's call, but really, I could just carry the thing on a long trail ride, because she always has to go on a trail ride!
My bets are that she is not pregnant--not that I am usually pessimistic, but I just have a feeling she is not. She is seventeen. Hopefully I will have news on the blood test soon.