Archive for August, 2008

Britt Draft Horse Show 08

Sweet Smells.
There are some smells that trigger emotions and memories. You breathe them in deeply and it takes you to another place and time. Say for instance . . . baking bread brings back fond memories of my grandmas warm kitchen. And the other smell that puts me into a bucolic trance . . . horse sweat and fly spray. Nothing quite like it. And yes it does rank right up there with baking bread.

Today I treated myself and attend the Britt Draft Horse Show held in Britt, Iowa. For such a tiny town they put on one heck of a good horse show. I spent the morning milling around the barns. Most horse events find me in the behind the scenes areas. Whether it be shows, competition or races I love to hang out in the staging area. Often missing the actual event in hopes of capturing something special happening in the quiet moments. So thats how I spent my day. Not too many ways I would have rather spent it.

You may have noticed that nearly all the photos here are of black Percherons. I found this odd. Not so many years ago the horses were far more varied in color and breed. Today there was a few Clydesdales, a few more Belgians and a whole lot of Percherons. Apparently black is now the color of choice for Percherons since that was what they all came in with the exception of a few grays which were so dark they were probably black last year. I love dapple gray and the lighter and whiter the better.

Similarly the Clydesdales were all pretty much the same color. That would be Budweiser Clyde color and marked. No roans or blacks or splashes of white on the belly. Just clones of the famous hitch. I have to say I was slightly disappointed by this.

The other thing I found interesting was some of the horses had shaped hooves. (like on this guy) Very cool look but it makes me wonder of the hoof integrity.

I remember a few years back I was talking with my neighbor (the proud owner of around 30 Percherons) and he was telling me everyone was liking the platter foot. The bigger and splayed out the better. But he felt that the horses had more hoof problems because of this. It all comes down to looks in the end. You gotta follow the trend in order to win the awards. Which in turn allows you to command better prices for your horses.

Critter Fix
At this point I am bit weary. I am sunburned and have a headache from a little too much sun exposure. Plus I feel gritty from all the dust. (for those horse savvy among you, you realize what I’m actually saying is I’m covered in dried-up pulverized horse poo.) My immediate plan is to shower and flop down in front of the air conditioner. I was in need of a critter fix and it was so worth it.

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About IERAL: Equine Rescue

IERAL stands for Iowa Equine Rescue & Awareness League. IERAL is located in the Cedar Rapids area and is an established non-profit organization which provides care for abused livestock for the state of Iowa. They partner with law enforcement, attorney’s and veterinary agencies all over Iowa to help fill the void when it comes to the rescue of large animals like horses. IERAL offers a rehabilitation program for the horses they take in.

Earlier this year, I went out to visit IERAL to learn about the operation and take some photos in the hopes of creating a painting for auction as well as prints to help raise some funds. I am pleased to be able to participate in this cause as it is something I believe strongly in.

Karla Sibert took some time to show me around and introduce me to some of the horses. (I’ll introduce you to some of them in an upcoming post.) I liked Karla quite a bit. She struck me as tough, honest and passionate about the cause. I recognized in her a fellow spirit who pushes herself way past the amount of hours she has in a day. Her work for IERAL is just one of many things that she is a part of.

If you would like to learn more about IERAL visit their website at http://www.iaeral.org. There you can also see who is ready for adoption and who they are helping now. Also as the need for equine rehabilitation continues to grow they are always in need of donations of any kind. Check ’em out.

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Meet Colton

This spring I went to photograph several rescue horses in preparation for doing a portrait as a fund raiser. This is the horse I chose to do for IERAL (Iowa Equine Rescue and Awareness League) as he is so beautiful in both looks and spirit.

Colton is a 7 year blind old Arab gelding. I fell in love with him immediately. He has the sweetest nature and in many ways reminds me of my own horse Chicory.

The following is part of an email to me from Karla Sibert with Colton’s story.

Colton, was brought to IERAL on August 18th, 2007, along with 5 other horses that were abandoned in Lee County, IA. He was six at the time and had never been away from his mother. When he arrived at IERAL foster care facility, we had no idea that he couldn’t see, and we were so taken back that he had never been away from his mother his entire life.

We took two stallions (Colton being one of them) to get gelded that same day. When we picked them both up at the equine clinic Dr. Abraham said “You know this gray is blind don’t you?” I’m like no way he is only 6 years old, what would cause the blindness this early in life? He said, probably moon blindness, which he probably caught some virus that went untreated and so he went blind. That would explain why he never bred his mother I’m sure.

So, he was put back in with a half sister and his mother upon his arrival back to foster care. We adopted out both sister and mother within about three weeks after that, so we brought in a pony to keep him happy. Well, he was lost with out the two mares, but he finally adapted with his pony friend. So, at this point you know the rest of the story. My goal is to get Dr. Abraham out to evaluate his eye sight, and get him referred to ISU for eye surgery.

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Sourcing For A Painting.

I’m back with a vengeance.
So I realize my blog has suffered a bit of late. There has been a lot of adjustments between Mike and I, trying to strike a balance with his health as well as our relationship in regards to it. This has been my preoccupation of late.

But I also have been finishing up the claims information for the $10,000 loss at Omaha. As well as researching art liscensing in my spare time. (There is an agency interested in signing me and since I haven’t the faintest idea on the subject I am trying to familiarize myself with it quickly.) Not to mention just running the gallery which continues to blossom.

But I am ready to get back into the swing of things. I have a painting lined up (in my mind. Nothing down on paper yet.) Several blog posts in the hopper (um. . . again only in my mind) and I think we are back in business.

3 ways I source for a painting.
As I am pawing through a large stack of photos trying to select which one I am going to do, I thought about the various ways I go about accomplishing getting the resource to begin a painting.

I have three tried and true ways and they are as follows:

1. I have an idea and then locate my reference photos. Like I did with my zebra thumnail.

2. I have a great photo and think this will make an excellent painting. Like with my Alborozo photo.

3. I have a desire to do something (like a rhino) and flip through possibly hundreds of photos to see if any of them fires up a creative spark.

In this case I am working with #3. I have agreed to do a painting for a worthy cause. I have collected the reference photos and now it is up to me to create a painting out of them. The image needs to be something I am proud of as well as something they can sell and raise some cash.

I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

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Bang Head Here

I spent my afternoon today painting this on the wall (yes on the wall) in my framing room at the gallery. It is appropriately high enough on the wall for use, if I am so inclined.

It took several hours to design and paint. I’m sure if I had some nifty computer program I could have knocked this out in a few minutes. But since I have no nifty program I drew it all out free hand (and it shows.)

Was this a good use of my creative time today? Um . . . no. But it greatly amuses me every time I look at it. And since I am in short supply of amusements of late, I did it. And I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. And I fully expect to at the very least smirk every time I look at it for many days to come.

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An embryo of possibilities.
I am not sure if this qualifies as art. But for today it’s all I’ve got. I actually scribbled this little guy out at an artfair. I had a dream (of which I now have no memory) and this was the resulting sketch the next day. It is a painting to be. A little embryo of possibilities. (shown here pretty much actual size)

To thumbnail or not . . .
I am not a “thumbnailer” by nature. I think it is the wise and careful artist who practices the art of forethought when it comes to creating art. I however am a “fly by the seat of my pants” kinda gal. (It keeps it exciting for me. Sort of like not reading the end of the book while still in the middle.

Maybe what I am saying is that it is the journey and the challenges that “pop up” along the way that I enjoy. Long ago I didn’t even draw out my idea. I would just sort of work and slowly the animal came forth out of the paper. I would adjust and crop as I went along. Oil Pastels changed that for me but I still cling to the old ways.

Now if you were wiser than I, you would recognize the importance of doing thumbnail drawings. They allow you to makes important decisions regarding composition, lighting and color before you have begun. Drawing out thumbnails saves the heartache of having a piece ruined because you made a decision in progress and it was the wrong decision. Thus the wise and well reasoned artist create thumbnail drawings.

So what’s that say about me?

Hey, some people sky dive . . . I create art without the benefit of figuring it out in advance. Maybe that’s as much excitement as this Midwestern critter artist can handle.

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I had planned on posting something to do more with the art side of things. But as yet my life is still tilted sideways. So you’ll have to make do with one more post showing pretty horse pictures. Another Dr. appointment tomorrow and perhaps it will help to provide me with some clarity.

Cooling Off
This beautiful Freisian was enjoying a cool bath. It was seriously hot and the humidity was breathtaking. Most horses, when done showcasing their stuff at the arena were rushed up the hill and hosed off to keep them from over heating. I find horses being bathing infinately fascinating and took loads of photos.

Yet More Horses
Though the Kentucky Horse Park had horses packed in all every nook and cranny. The other horses at Breyerfest were a select few. (Other meaning other than Alborozo.) The Breyerfest breeds were really either horses that Breyer had made models of in previous years. Or horses that owners were hoping to have Breyer create a model of.

I found that out because I got curious and asked a couple of owners. With the price of gas what would motivated someone to haul their horses half way across the country to attend Breyerfest. Turns out they’re hopping their nice gesture of attending will get their fine examples of various equines to be recreated in plastic.

This beauty (left) is a Gypsy Drum Horse. It is part Gypsy and part Shire (you can really see the Shire.) They had several drum horses that I photographed. But again I felt the need to show some restraint as pretty soon I may have to change my blog name to Pretty Horse Pictures or some such.

This horse was not actually part of Breyerfest but was participating in a competition at another part of the park. I’ve been wanting to paint some horses jumping but never had much opportunity to photograph them. I got a few good shots here but the jumps weren’t all that high so the horse didn’t really project that feeling of effort and power I was looking for. I guess I’ll need to find myself another jumping competition and try again.

Other horses Breyer has created models of.

This handsome guy is Fox Valley Oliver, owned by Kathy Whitaker of Flying Feathers Farm in PA. He is a champion ambassador for the Shire breed. Between 2000-2003 he earned several reserve championships in the US and Canada.

He excels in driving but unfortunatelty he came up lame while at the part so we weren’t able to see him in action.

This is DZ Weedo Affectionately known as Odie, he is a 1994 buckskin Appaloosa. Owned by the Schembri’s of Char-O-Lot Ranch in Florida. His honors include 1997 National Champion Trail Horse and 1998 Appaloosa World Champion in the Western Riding Division.

Blugrass Bandit
She is a lovely Tennessee Walking Horse who is owned by the Carrier’s of KY. She was named World Grand Champion in Western Pleasure and was voted the Trail Pleasure Horse of the Year by Voice of the Tennessee Walking Horse.

Information resource for Horses that Breyer has created models of: http://www.BreyerHorses.com

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I go to many horse expos and various events and one of the things that I have never done is had my photo taken with a horse. Owners who come to these types of events are so generous with their time and animals and often invite you to be photographed with their horse. I’ve always smiled politely and said “No. . .thank you though.

I have a horse. I have spent my life around horses and a photo to commemorate the experience of meeting yet another horse has never been something I felt I needed . . . until now.

This is Brigitte Eberl (on the right,) the sculptor of the Breyer Alborozo, and her friend Sondra (left.) They both came over from Germany to attend Breyerfest.

Carol Herden the artist I accompanied to Breyerfest and Brigitte are good friends. We had dinner with them both nights. Unfortunately by the time I actually had a Breyer model to be signed they had already left the state. (followed by the country) Big Bummer. I would have loved to have her signature as well as Avi’s.

When Sondra first asked if I’d photograph her with Alborozo I said of course. When she came back all smiles she offered to take a pic of me. I pondered the whole photo thing for about half a second then said “sure.”

So here I am meeting Alborozo, and I have a photo to prove it. Me and Big Al (thats a pet name I share with him now. You know because we have something special between us.) had a moment here.

Huh . . . I never knew I looked like that with all those fanny packs. I mean I look like a toddler with one of those blow up rubber floaty things around me, heading off to the wadding pool or something. In case your wondering, one is for new film, one for spent film and one for cash. I now realize I would look oh so much cooler with my camera case instead. But it weighs a ton and I always have to keep an eye on it so someone doesn’t run off with it. Hmm . . . Maybe I’ll need to put “So I won’t look so dorky” on the plus side for going digital on my pros and cons list.

The Other First
The Alborozo model was only available at Breyerfest 2008. To make it especially collectable Breyer broke the mold. Something it has never done in its 60years of existence. I had thought about including a pic of the actual Breyer but then I thought “Nah.” You can click through to see Breyer’s model of Alborozo if your curious.

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Alborozo: Andalusian Stallion

Christmas Comes Early
Isn’t this a lovely photo. Minus the cigarette this could be a heckava painting.

I got my photos back from being developed and it is like Christmas. Carefully opening up the many packages and rifling through all that glossy equestrian goodness. Smelling that hint of developing chemical wafting from the photos.

Breath it in deeply now with me. . . Ahhhh!

Equine Perfection
Just so you know I had to really control myself to get it down to this many photos. Actually as I was writing this I was thinking “Hmmm. . . I wonder if I should split up the photos into 2 or maybe even 3 posts.” (which of course I have done.) After this many weeks I still can’t seem to get enough of this horse. I mean I took well over 400 pics of him. (no kidding!) How can I include photos of him doing the spanish walk (see below) but not him doing a piaffe. (not shown) Not to mention the many and varied wardrobe changes. I need a photo that demonstrates all his glorious hair, but that might mean I would have to exclude a photo of him just being gorgeous. Sigh.

So what is the legal definition of a stalker anyway?
Occasionally a horse grabs me and I just can’t get enough. This time it was Alborozo. For the entire 3 days we were at the Kentucky Horse Park I hid out and waited for the chance to get a few photos. I might be working the booth and the announcer would say that Alborozo was coming up. I’d be like “Gotta Go!” to Carol, grab my camera and make tracks.

Truth is, it wasn’t until the last day that I actually remained in the arena to watch him perform. Otherwise I would be waiting either outside the arena or back at his stall. (all the better get some distance shots and keep clicking away until he got up to the barn.)

I was not alone in my adoration of him, as he was almost constantly surrounded by fans. I however was by far the most tenacious. I am a little embarrassed to say that when it came time to have Avi Cohen (his owner and trainer) sign my Breyer of Alborozo I was a little self conscious. Perhaps he never really noticed being surrounded by all those horse loving women. Perhaps I was just one among a sea of faces. I’d like to think so.

Andalusian or Spanish Horse?
Andalusions were named for the Spanish province of Andalusia from where it originated. What most of the world thinks of as an Andalusion, in spain is refered to as Pura Raza Espanola (PRE) or Pure Spanish Horse. Alborozo is a fine example of the breed for sure.

Note: I find it kinda weird that in some photos he looks very gray while in other he appears far more white. Suppose they actually had two horses? One (a look-a-like) for all those public appearance (white) where little girls stood smiling brightly in front of him as he was forever the patient gentleman. And another (the darker gray) for all the actual demonstrations. Hmmm. . . probably not. Odd though, just the same.

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Getting Back To It

I felt I really needed to get a post in tonight. I have been absent for awhile and I’m feeling a bit guilty. But I have a good reason. My husband has been ill. We made quick trip to the ER over a week ago and his well being has rather completely encompassed my life since that point. Though his recovery will be long, I plan to continue to post and paint and try to keep the bills paid.

I’ve got a couple of posts in the works with photos from my Breyerfest trip. Tomorrows post will be about the Breyerfest horse that captured my imagination and I took well over 400 photos of him alone. (no kidding!) I have no doubt he will be painted at least two times in the next year.

Also there will be a post intoducing you to the horse which is going to be the subject of my next painting. Which with any luck I will be able to start in the next week or so.

So there you have it. I haven’t been skiing in Aspen or gambling on the Rivierra. Just the normal (more or less) trials of everyday life.

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