Posts Tagged ‘friesians’

So it’s Saturday morning and I’m looking forward to a full day of working on this painting. Followed by Sunday. I am probably being overly optimistic, but I am hoping to just about finish it off by the end of the weekend.

Tall, Dark and Seriously Handsome
Frieisans are one of my favorite breeds. Yeah, I know I’m totally alone in this.

Any one who likes horses . . . even a little, likes Friesians. Anyone who is a romantic. . . even a little, likes Friesians. But they really do have all the attributes I admire in horses. They have size. In general they have great temperaments. They’re black. (Ever since I read Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion that has been the color of choice for me.) They have unbelievable hair. Seriously what’s not to love?

And the Friesian that sealed the deal for me being a fan was when I met Nero at the MN Horse Expo many years ago. Since then I have come to know many wonderful Friesian horses, but Nero still holds a special place in my heart.

The handlers were so giving of their time with Nero and the public. The thing that instantly impressed me was how calm and dignified he was in the mayhem that is the expo. He was always surrounded by groups of people reaching out and petting him.

People I think forget what an amazing thing that is. Here you are in a foreign place with hundreds of horses and thousands of people. And here is this stallion completely calm, while total strangers are touching him (I’m sure often in places he’d prefer he wasn’t touched) and there’s chaos all around. I mean a stallion for Pete’s sake. Often times someone was on him bareback with only a halter and lead.

To be clear, there are other stallions that do as well, but also plenty who don’t.

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So here’s my latest effort.
This painting is yet unnamed (not even a working title yet) and is once again done on suede board.

I really like the look of suede, but I am torn about using it, since so far it has been a little moody to work with when it comes to profiling it for prints. (Mike, says the suede’s fine, that I’m the one who’s moody.)

Um . . . Anywho, my last couple of pieces didn’t profile as well as I would have liked. The prints look fine (perhaps a tad darker than the original) but it was a real effort to get there. Sometimes that’s just the way of things. But it may have to do with the suede being so dimensional. In real life the light gets captured in depths of the fibers that doesn’t reproduce in print.

In case it is the later, I am working on a lighter shade of suede to see if that helps. I am kinda counting on it actually because I just invested $80 in 3 sheets of the stuff. (and they’re not really colors I use in framing) My two other pieces in the works to go on suede are a giraffe painting and a portrait of Alborozo. (Though I imagine I can’t legally call it his portrait. It will just have to be “inspired” by Big Al.)

Cross Breeding
This painting kinda looks like the love child between my Natural Grace oil pastel painting and my portrait of Catch done in water color pencil. Which is all good because both are extremely popular sellers and you got to feed those that feed you. Meaning give the people what they want or shut it if you’re not selling.

Okay, okay . . . I’m getting off my soap box now. (I’m feeling feisty today)

At any rate Natural Grace was all about design, while Catch was all about. . . well . . . Catch. This one however is going to be all about the hair.

My inspiration for this was my recent trip out photographing the Percheron brood mares. With all their lovely, floaty manes blowing in the breeze. My actual reference photo however was from my horse safari trip to Noble Friesians last fall. This was one of their young stallions making tracks away from me when he discovered my camera was not a giant horsey treat.

Sundays are a day of rest.

Since it’s Sunday, I have the whole day to work on it. Which is good because even though it was a few short months ago since my last wc pencil on suede, I seem to have forgotten how to work it and needed a little time for a refresher.

I am wearing the same horse slobber stained sweatshirt as last Sunday (It happens to be my favorite) I did however put on makeup and jeans after last Sundays humiliation. I can’t put my DO NOT DISTURB sign out because Mike is working on the front of the gallery and thus takes away all power from the sign. We shall see what comes of it.

Note: I haven’t quite figured out where I’m going to crop. The board I’m working on is 21×32. The painting however will be much closer to 20 x 20

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Dances With Horses

Filling the well.
Well I enjoyed my horse filled weekend entirely. I spent a lovely morning at Noble Friesians just ambling around the pastures and enjoying the gorgeous weather. The horses were fantastic and after a cursory snuffle, they found me completely unremarkable (and treat free) so they promptly went back to grazing.

This works well for me because it is notoriously hard to get a good photo of a horse that is in my face and slurbering on my camera. I was hoping for some cavorting (to be clear, I was hoping for some cavorting from the horses, I haven’t “cavorted” in decades) but mostly I got grazing shots, (still an excellent way to spend a morning.) I shot over a dozen rolls of film and will share some pics if I get anything worth looking at.

Rachael, the barn manager let me wander at will among them, which is certainly a testament to the breed that you could let a complete stranger in their pasture and have no worries.

I do love Friesians. To bad they are way out of my price range. These horses are worth anywhere from $35,000 to $150,000 depending on which mare you’re looking at. That’s a lot of $$$ grazing in the backyard. Many thanks to Rachael for showing me around and letting me photograph these stunning horses.

Dances With Horses.
After the friesians and a nice visit with Carol Eilers, editor of Apples ‘N Oats magazine, I returned to Waterloo, IA to attend the Dances With Horses event being held as a fund-raiser for ASPIRE which a non-profit therapeutic riding program for individuals with disabilities. In addition to some headlining acts like the Andalusian stallion, Acierto and his owner Laura Amandis (shown here with the rearing Acierto) they had a few acts including the kids themselves. (bottom photo) Again a totally delightful way to spend the evening.

I was surprised to realize I had seen Laura and Acierto at Kentucky Horse Park earlier this year. I think I was so in love with Alborozo that I wasn’t so very impressed with Acierto then. Also, he was not as cooperative in the intense heat of Kentucky as he was at the “Dances” event. Their’s really is an impressive act and demonstrates the bond they have between them.

It is important for me to take the time to do activities like these, it keeps me motivated. I think of it as “filling the well” (or “feeding the source” . . . “tweaking the muse”. . .) sort of activities. I come back from stuff like this and just want to set right down at the drafting table and create something. Which is exactly what I’m doing.

No more WIP’s of Colton, though. I will post the finished painting . . just as soon as I finish it, that with any luck will be today or tomorrow. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and mumbling over and over to myself, “I think I can . . I think I can . . .”

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Since we have been talking about creating art that people connect with enough to spend money on. I thought I would share with you my best selling image. Natural Grace has been my highest grossing image in print for the past couple of years.

Natural Grace - Friesian Horse - click for larger image
Natural Grace
Oil Pastel 10 x 30
Copyright by
Mona Majorowicz

Who Knew?
Truth is, it’s not great art. Oil Pastels were still a very new medium to me when I created this piece. I was just kinda playing around and I didn’t try particularly hard with it. I seriously thought of tossing the painting when I was done. My husband had to talk me into making prints of it. (Actually we debated for weeks and he finally just went ahead and did it. Hooray for Mike, that he could see what I could not.)

I started the original at the bargain basement pricing of around $500 and took it, and a couple of prints to an event. People loved it, (or they made horses ass jokes.) I sold several prints and had a few serious lookers at the original. I raised the original painting to $650. Another event more prints sales, more serious lookers at the original. I raised it to $850. This went on for half a season, raising the price to match the interest of the public. I won’t say what it finally sold for, but I am so grateful I didn’t toss the painting. The prints continue to do well. When I create 5-10 more images that do as well, I will be a very happy woman.

The 80/20 Rule.
Often 80% of your sales will be coming from 20% of your work. If you want to increase your sales you need to look at what sells and then do more of it. I’m not saying you need to make duplicates but if you take a gander at the wealthiest print artists in america today (like Thomas Kinkade, Terry Redlin or P. Buckley Moss) you’ll notice that they have one similar painting after another. They have figured out what sells, branded it (meaning just their name alone will trigger an image in your minds eye of what they paint.) and keep producing more. They get a lot of heckling for it, mostly by other artists. But I would think being multi-millionaires really takes the sting out of any bitter remarks.

For myself, I estimate that 7-10 of my prints are making the vast bulk of my print income. While the other 25 images or so sell just enough to keep them in print. I regularly look them over to see what the popular ones have in common.

As a side note.
I have a very dear artist friend, who is quite a good equestrian artist. She has a strong dislike of the Natural Grace image. So for a while after every event when it did well, I would poke her and say “I sold $ of Natural Grace this weekend”. Her usual response was “People have no taste.” I find this hugely funny. Makes me smile still, to think about it. Had anyone else said such a harsh thing to me, I most likely would have felt a little offended, (it takes a lot to hurt my feelings these days) but since it was her, I just find it funny.

I tell this to illustrate my point that even though she is knowledgable about both horses and art, she also would never have guessed Natural Grace would be such a stellar selling image. Friends, artists and collegues are not always right.

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