Posts Tagged ‘draft horses’


So it’s been forever and I’m sorry,

No really, I am.

But if not for an email from a reader saying they missed me here I probably wouldn’t have written even now. I kinda bit off more than I can chew this year, so things like facebook and the particularly the blog tended to get swept under the rug.

In this instance, I decided to be a vendor at the Iowa State Fair. This was a monumental undertaking for me since I didn’t cut any of my usual events. I quite literally worked 7 days a week anywhere from 10-16 hour days for 6 weeks in preparation and the event lasted 2 weeks. And I’m still working that schedule for at least another month. But it’s all good. Nothing a whole lotta sleep and a really good cry won’t fix.

I survived
I was told repeatedly that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone.

I’d burn out.

It’d be too much.

Which if ya’ll know me I’m like “Hell Yea, I can too do it all by myself!”

And so I did.

And frankly it was exhausting running on 5-6 hours sleep each night and getting up and being to the building at 7am all the while bearing in mind that no matter how crabby I felt, stabbing people was wrong! When the building closed at 9 pm, I’d head back and shower and crash. Rinse and repeat.

It was okay sales wise. I was hoping for more though I’m not sure if that’s not always the case. I made some great contacts, took lots of photos and in general thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Yes, I will do it again and at least this time I’ll know what to expect. The bulk of my stress was not knowing anything about the event, the crowds, the buying patterns, parking etc etc.

I do tend to update on facebook more because it’s not the process I go through uploading photos and such. For those who’d like to see more photos and some horse videos and a work in progress piece that I demonstrated with, check out my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WildFacesGallery



The Folks Who Made Me Look Good

So as much as I’d like to pretend I’m Wonder Woman the truth is there was a whole slew of people helping me out in various ways.

Barb McGee. She saved my butt my bringing a load of inventory down for me as well as helped with set up. Not to mention got me a place to stay with family 15 minutes from the fairgrounds. This was so huge! I can’t express how much both mentally and physically and financially this helped. Thank you dear one.

Amanda and family for opening their home to a complete stranger for 2 weeks.

Louise and Bill Shimon for being my plan B on all fronts and just always being there for me.

Connie Braunschweig (in photo above with me) who helped me navigate the chaos of doing this monumental undertaking, told me I could do it and helped introduce me to the walnut center arts family. Hugs to you. I never felt alone because you were here at my side.

Inee & Diane neighbor artists who I often found Manning my booth and making sales when I’d run off when the allure of horse flesh just outside the building doors got too great. And Bill too. 🙂 You all kept me laughing.

All the folks at the Walnut Center who checked on me, offered help, rides, breaks and support. So happy to be welcomed into the family.

And lastly those at home who made it possible for me to leave for 2 weeks knowing my fur babies are taken care of. Gordon, Cheryl Hawk and Mike.

I am mightily blessed to have such great friends. Thank you.


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I always struggle when starting a new piece to find the right colors for what I have in mind. And this piece is no exception. I wanted a warm yellow color to my gray horse. Gray horses seem to be a challenge for me. I make them too cold, too blue gray and this one I want warm. I want reflected light and soft yellow and rose coloring.

Somehow though I wound up with a whole lotta green.

So here’s where I think I went wrong
I made a few critical errors when I began this piece. First I started it at home in a not well lit environment.

It’s one thing to work on a piece once I have figured out my palette. But it’s probably best not to try to figure it out in not-so-great lighting.

I layed down an yellow/orange-ish base coat and then put my blue/grays over the top and guess what … it made green. Yeah, I know after 20 years of mixing color I should have expected that huh?

Though in my defense had I been working in oil pastel it would have totally worked!

And lastly I get kinda fixated on the area that I am working and in point of fact it was only 6 inches on a piece that currently measures 24 x 32. So I really need to just step back and try to remember there is a lot more to do so stop obsessing..


So the head shown here is nowhere near done but I like it better. Crappy photo makes it look a lot like the first photo … but trust me it is completely different.)

So I pulled out a dozen or so Percheron reference photos that had that glow I was looking for. Pulled out much of the color I had put in and began again. At the gallery. On a sunny day.


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I Think I Blocked Out The Trauma

I have been goofing around with drawing this piece for quite some time now. I had forgotten just how time consuming drawing tack is. Looking at my drawing above you wouldn’t think it was all that difficult. I mean when it’s all simplified out in a coloring book style sketch it really doesn’t look like much.

But … it was.

It was only after I got into the act of drawing tack that I remembered the trauma of spending a week or more drawing various draft teams through the years. I’ve not had a child but I’m guessing it’s just like childbirth. Where you agonize, bargain with God, sweat, scream and cry and after an excruciatingly long time … a birth occurs.

Yeah, this was exactly like that.

And now just like a child, I need to show it love and nurture it so it will blossom and grow into something beautiful… so I can sell it.

So okay, the metaphor gets a little thin at that point.

Moving on …

You can’t really see it here but the horses were done with pretty much NO effort. But the tack … the tack has been drawn, erased and drawn again.

At first I thought it was my geezer eyesight. Not as young as I once was and so I was playing “I wonder what that is” a lot with my sketch.

My dear equestrian artist friend Barb McGee shared an epiphany with me a year or so ago. She used to fuss about trying to figure out what things were that were so deep in shadow they couldn’t be made out. She enlightened me that in the end she decided it really didn’t matter because if you can’t see what it is in the photo it’s okay if you can’t see what it is in the finished painting.

As I told myself this over and over hoping that in the end I’d believe it … well let’s just say I went another direction.

reference photos

So What’s The Point Of Having All This Equipment Anyway?

In the end, I scanned in my photo at a high resolution (600 dpi) played with the levels in Photoshop and then printed it out at 11×14. My printer would allow 24×36 but that seemed excessive since my painting is only 20×32.

So with my new improved image I could see exactly what I was struggling with and turns out I made up a bunch of stuff that didn’t exist. Too bad I hadn’t thought of this sooner it would have saved me some editing.

Perhaps I should just be grateful my geezer brain thought of it all. You know … glass is half full kind of thinking.

So here’s the beginning of the next big thing.

PS There is still some tack that I was all … “What is that and where does it go?” but in the end I agreed with Barb and just went with it.

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Do you remember that conversation I had with Carol about not wanting to get stabbed in my sleep Well it turns out we did actually wind up in the Bates Motel.

The First bad sign, we couldn’t find the hotel and after calling them a couple of times we find out the name of the place has actually been changed in the week or so since Carol Booked it. (Yeah I know Right) With the correct name we do find the place and as we circle it a couple of times trying to find the lobby, we see a parking lot full of battered and broken cars with garbage bags taped over their windows. We parked under the biggest brightest light in the lot.

We spent most of our first not feeling comfortable enough to go to sleep. So we amused ourselves telling scary stories of dumpy hotels and beg bug scares. Carol had the best story with her having woken up to multiple spider bites all over her face and arms from hatchlings in her pillow. Yup the stuff sweet dreams are made of.

The next hotel Carol got a suite. And it was stunning. “I’m like “ah how much is this?” This place had a beautiful king bed with Marble topped posts and a huge leather couch. Flat screen tv’s everywhere but the bathroom. Nice. No more scary nighttime stories for us while staying here. I do wish I had taken picture of both places though. The difference was shocking

So here’s some horse pics as promoised. I just dropped off 13 rolls of film to be developed so I should have some really good ones then.

Here’s The World Champion Stallion. Isn’t he a stunner?

Not sure why but I relly have a fascination with horses being bathed.

I kinda forget just how big they really are.

The view from our seats during the 6 horse hitch show. Close enough to be pelted by the dirt clods as they passed.

I thought I’d plug my Squidoo lens on the World Percheron Congress. It’s awaiting the photos to be developed but I did add a few videos from the event.

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So as has been the way all along, this event was chocked full of surprises. I suppose that’s to be expected though since I do primarily art events and Carol does Dairy and Stock shows. We are talking different crowds of people here.

The first surprise was when we discovered that yes the event ran 7 days but it was only open to the public for 3. Meaning we had to be there for 4 days where all there would be was breeders. I’m like “Ah crap.” My first days sales total was $15. Carol had a sale before we even opened for one of her cold cast porcelain pieces of a trotting Percheron though so there was hope.

But those early days were really one long yawn. Fortunately I adore Carol so we spent much of the time laughing. Also Carol Eilers (Yup totally kicking myself for not getting a pic of Carol E in her booth) was there from Apples ‘n Oats fame and so we all went out to dinner together and in general just made a party of it. (And by “party” I mean an exhausted over-indulgent eating spectacular. Oh wait that might have been just me. )

Carol (photo right working hard on a sculpture for some sheep trophy due the day after we returned). As the event went on it slowly got better and the final day was a bit of a feeding frenzy for both of us, which is always fun. Though I’ve already had one check come back bad. Art Fair patrons almost never write bad checks. Not so sure about horse people.

Another surprise was our booth had a wide open view of the horse barns (which I planned on getting a snapshot of but didn’t as after the first couple of days they closed the doors.) We kinda missed watching the horses get groomed and harnessed less than 40 feet away but closing the doors definitely cut down on the draft. Somehow the dust still blew though. We had no heat for the first few days and Lordy it was cold. But on day 3 or 4 they kicked it on. Mind you I’ve been through worse. The MN Horse Expo one year I wore a heavy winter coat and blanket for the entire event. This wasn’t nearly that bad.

I’ve included a couple of shots of our booth. I think our work really looks good together. Carol doesn’t have much for horse art as I say she’s primarily a cow artist. In the end we both made enough money to make it worth the trip but not enough to consider doing it again.

Will contain actual pictures of draft horses.

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It’s been awhile since I did the start to finish and I figured I needed to intersperse all my chatty posts with some art. I do have big plans for painting this weekend. I’ll have to see how it plays out.

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Strength & Glory– Percheron Team
Original Oil Pastel Painting
19 x 29

Well . . . as official as anything can be a year away from the event. Let’s just say a booth has been reserved with my name on it. Um . . . well actually with Carol Herden’s name on it. (but you know, it’s kinda the same thing.)

My good friend and bovine/equestrian artist extrandinaire, Carol Herden and I will once again be sharing a booth with our equine (in this case Percheron and draft) art at the 2010 World Percheron Congress in Des Moines, Iowa. This is our second artistic (ad)venture together. You may recall our trip to the Kentucky Horse Park for Breyerfest 08.

At any rate I am excited. Mostly because the idea of spending a horsey week with a friend is one of my favorite things to do. I am not thinking this is going to be a money maker. (Mostly because people aren’t coming to these kinds of events to buy art.) But it is certainly going to be loads of fun.

I plan on packing both cameras (digital and film.) Despite having many thousands (yes, that’s literally thousands) of Percheron reference photos, my motto is “one can never have enough.”

Upcoming Posts

I know I need to post my Frieisan painting but I’m soooo close to being done, I keep putting off posting it, because I want to post it as done. Not as really, really close to done.

So tomorrow will be Ask The Budda (Halloween edition) And on Halloween I may post a ghost story of my own. Or I may just delete it as a bad, bad idea.

But after that, my horse painting will be done. I know this for a fact because my deadline for the next Apples ‘N Oats issue is November 1st.

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Group Therapy
Last week a friend came by and swept me away from the gallery to have some quality horse time with a herd of Percheron brood mares. Since my Percheron raising neighbor moved away several years ago I have been going through withdrawals. (umm . . . just so you know, those are birds on the ground, not poo.)

My friend is an animal person and has rekindled her love of horses. She is new in town. (And by “new” I mean that she’s been here only 3 years. For small towns it’s kinda like dog years but in reverse. After you’ve been here seven years you are no longer considered “new.”)

At any rate she is struggling with this feeling like home. She is a single mother who works nights and being awake only a couple of hours in the middle of the afternoon (before she leaves again for work) makes it hard to socialize and have a little fun.

But she has found her bliss standing among the giants, scritching their itches and talking in soft horsey whispers. She is happiest (as am I) when covered in horse dust and slobber. As she’s rubbing a favorite young filly she declares “This is the best. This is better than men. This is better than sex.” Since I am married I don’t comment on that, but I so understand the feeling.

I don’t remember who said this but it seems appropriate. “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” In this case “man” is viewed in the broader sense.

If you squint they kinda look like Friesians
Not that they aren’t totally gorgeous in all their Percheron glory. I am pretty sure I’ve got a painting from the few new rolls I took. I love all the drapey hair and expressive eyes.

Just so you know I wasn’t deliberately trying to crop out their noses in my photos. They were just too close. (Happy Sigh)

One of my favorite horse quotes as well as a personal sentiment.
When I can’t ride anymore, I shall keep horses as long as I can hobble along with a bucket and a wheelbarrow.

When I can’t hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out by the fence of the field where my horses graze and watch them. -Monica Dickens

Tomorrow’s Post: Ask The Budda

Updated: Carol Eilers (editor of Apples N’ Oats magazine) tipped me to the fact that it was Winston Churchill who said my unknown quote. I should have just asked her, since she is wise on all things horse. Or had I been a responsible blogger I could have googled it. Thanks Carol!

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Belgian Draft Horse Painting

Show Girls - Belgians - click for larger image
Show Girls – Oil Pastel 20.25″ x 9.625″

Here is my painting inspired by my last trip to the Britt Draft Horse Show.

I created it when I was participating in a gallery exhibition. I felt kinda uncomfortable about the whole thing as mine was to be of a handfull of representational works. I was going to stick out like a sore thumb among all the abstract and contemporary works. As I have participated in many shows where the representational works tended to fall at the bottom when it came to curators and judges I felt a little . . . ummm . . . snarky about it all.

It amused me to no end while I painted it, as well as while it was hung in the show. Frankly even though it is years later it still amuses to look at it. Plus the title is always worth a chuckle. And for those of you wondering, it sells really well. Especially among the draft horse people.

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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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