Monday, December 31, 2007

Goals 2008

The tone of my intentions is evolving. I seem to be getting down to the serious business of what it'll take to become rich and famous...

For business:

  • Practice aggressive marketing and promotion. Act immediately before someone else does when a lead, contact or opportunity presents itself. I've been laid back in this regard and will be more alert and attentive.
  • Michael and I have merged on the same page with our attitudes regarding marketing techniques. Extensive discussions resolved any possible misunderstandings while maintaining our individual philosophy, so, it's okay to disagree. Respect for instinct is also paramount.
  • Continue with promotional mailings, both e-mail and conventional. Strive for free publicity via newsworthy events by writing our own news releases, announcements, etc.
  • Enter the Appleton Museum's Biennial Exhibition.
  • If unable to become an exhibitor (it's $$$$), at least attend the ArtExpo in New York in March.
  • Expand outdoor shows. Contacts acquired are too valuable to limit the number per year. Apply to Equifest, Horse Expo, and add Virginia to the steeplechase circuit.
  • Investigate feasibility of setting up stores at eBay and CafePress (last year's foray into the auction portion of eBay was disappointing).
  • Invite more commissions. I used to despise them but now that I've produced a zillion, I've gotten quite good at it and don't mind them at all. Cash flow is great.
  • The giclee market is outstanding for me. We'll continue to expand our client base and concentrate on the "open editions". The technology just keeps getting better...
  • Devise a system for keeping track of the race meets throughout the country. This way we can contact them a few months before opening day to proposition merchandise and promotional ideas.
  • Ever onward with my relentless obsession to gain access to the huge players in the racing biz. This includes corporate as well as individuals.
  • Experiment with generic equine themes that will increase more widespread appeal.
  • Continue exploration in the direction of the "Diagonal" nine canvas piece, remaining in the spirit of an innovative, cutting edge and contemporary attitude. Audacity rules.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What I Did 2007

It's that time. I know I've bored some of you with my multiple Year in Review posts. Here's what I actually accomplished in the past year. Being a high-strung overly ambitious type, this exercise reassures me that, yes, things are happening and I'm making headway.

Group exhibit: "Masters of Horse Racing" sponsored by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association.
Gallery Central, Hot Springs, Arkansas: two person exhibit during April, coinciding with their monthly Art Walk and the big stake races at Oaklawn Park.
Equidae Gallery, Saratoga Springs, New York. Group exhibit during the summer race meet. I also painted on the sidewalk for a week in front of Soave Faire who carried my giclees.
Fayette Gallery, Lexington, Kentucky: solo exhibit through October during the Fall Keeneland Racing Meet.

Cover Art:
Program cover for Horse Shows in the Park. Great publicity and networking opportunity.

Marketing Workshops:
Alyson B. Stanfield at Manatee Art Center, Bradenton, Florida
Southern Regional Conference on Self-Employment in the Arts, University of Tampa.

Outdoor Shows:
Little Everglades Steeplechase, Dade City, Florida
High Hope Steeplechase, Lexington, Kentucky

Out of Hand Artists Salon
I kicked this idea around for a couple of years and finally did what was needed to launch. One of my proudest accomplishments for the year. Eleven (total) dedicated, hard working artists determined to succeed, supporting and promoting each other. Our salon focuses on business and marketing with the emphasis on networking and sales. Our first exhibit as a group was held this past summer at the Bank of America in Ocala, Florida.

2007 custom ordered 6'x12' Lark Cargo Trailer. Initially, this was purchased to deliver a very large commissioned canvas to Connecticut, with the intention of being resold. It's so versatile and easy to haul - we think we'll keep it!
Santa Fe III double masted easel with a marine-type winch. Holds huge canvases and saves my back adjusting the canvases up and down.

Acquired numerous new clients and commissions.
Made very good friends with the North Florida Farm Credit. They included me in some of their very fun events. I always have some pieces hanging throughout their offices.
Visited and made great contacts with the Museum of Racing at Saratoga Springs this past summer.

This was the biggest year ever for my giclee reproductions according to my books. Wonderful cash flow. Just when I'm thinking we're not getting them in enough venues...I sold to several commercial clients who are exhibiting the giclees in very public places. I also released my first "open edition" or "print on demand" and it was extremely well accepted by my galleries and clients.

Participated in the Marion Cultural Alliance's "Artist Within" fund raising project. I was teamed up with Executive Chef Randal White (of the Ocala Hilton and cable program "Dishin It Out"). Randal created a great painting and was a blast to work with.

I had another commissioned filled year. What a blessing. I also established working relationships with some major VIP clients. That's my main focus.
I'm very happy about my breakout piece "Diagonal". It's about 13'x13.5' and says I'm way more than a 4-F painter (foals frolicking in fields of flowers).

Entries for Competitions:
I entered Art Business News Emerging Artist Competition for an exhibit space at ArtExpo in New York. No word yet on the results.
I applied to the 2008 Professional Development Workshops sponsored by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. No word yet on the results.

Books, movies, etc.:
I read Barney Davey's "How to Profit from the Art Print Market". Great info for those in the reproduction business. No movies or other books really standout and I don't read nearly as much as I should be. Studio all day, crashing at night.

Michael and I logged 25,000+ miles traveling to and from galleries, shows, delivering artwork, etc. No moss on these two stones. I still love the road trips where I'm able to get away from the business and studio and - think! Some of my most creative brainstorming occurs during extended hours on the blacktop.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


May you all experience a blessed day of relaxation, reflection and recreation!

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Canoeing Instead Of Pontooning

Morning brought dense fog, cool temps and a strong breeze so we shifted plans to rent a pontoon boat out at Cedar Key. Instead, we headed back to the Ocklawaha River and put in at the Outpost. The river was a bit busy on a Sunday but the weather turned out gorgeous. My friend Lynn came with and as I've stated before, she is photographer extraordinaire.

oklahawa riverWe only saw a few gators due to the boat traffic. This was the biggest we spotted, about a four footer.

alligatorsJuvenile ibis were plentiful. Lynn didn't see the gator behind them until she edited the photos back at home. One of those rare, lucky events.

gatorsTurtells abound.

When we we got back to the boat ramp, we met Capt. Natural-Lee who had rigged his canoe out quite creatively. A self-described author, adventurer, philosopher and all around nice guy, which he is, it was a hoot to spend some time talking with him. Moments like these are what make life so fascinating.


<---This kills me.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Snow Ponies

Apparently I've b-o-r-e-d some of you with lengthy ruminations of my Year in Review posts. Yawn. Allow me to make amends: these pictures are worthy of Christmas Card status. They're from the lovely photographic blog of Andrea J. Anderson who graciously gave me permission to post.

snow horsesThe thought of snow+cold+horses generally makes me cringe due to frigid years of over wintering at racetracks in the north east. But these photos brought back pleasant memories of my childhood in New England.

horseback ridingOn weekends I worked at a local riding stable. Inclement weather was the only time us kids could could go for "free" rides through the woods in Lincoln, R.I. We were wild and reckless, the horses were full of themselves and somehow, all of us were impervious to the cold.

snow poniesBareback was the norm, and some of us took terrific falls only to jump back on with passionate abandon. I'll bet there were more than a few unreported concussions.

thoroughbred racetracksNow old and warm in Florida, I look forward to my pontoon boat ride at Cedar Key tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Year in Review #6

To conclude my review of Goals for 2007, here's the Personal category:
  • Work harder, study harder, manage my time more efficiently, excel at managing my money - do whatever it takes to get rich and famous!
Doing it and then some.
  • Balance that work ethic with playtime. All our road trips are for business only. I intend to take an extra day on these trips to relax and enjoy.
We managed to take two extra days in Saratoga for a drive in the Adirondacks. Whoopee. This is a case of old habits dying very hard. After spending more than half a lifetime at the race track working day after day for months on end without a break, it's something we've become familiar and comfortable with. Even when we get fed up and take a day off, it's difficult to relax. Can't be healthy. This is an ongoing issue that I'm not sure what to do about...any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

thoroughbred artI received an extremely pleasant e-mail from Dan at this morning notifying me that he had written a review regarding my paintings. Check it out here.

What's so gratifying is that Dan gets it: "Those extra strokes of color flying out from the racehorse’s sides and the jockey’s back are what give her paintings their immediacy and vitality—it’s like the ground is shaking so hard that your eyes can’t focus."

It's an ongoing study of how the eye reacts to a scene of rapid, complex movement. Add to the fray a mix of beating bass sound and you've got a fascinating fusion of how the brain reacts to intensive stimuli and what will be committed to memory. Focus is highly selective depending on the observer. Encountering this amount of frenetic activity within a fleeting moment requires visual editing. Some lines and forms will appear sharply delineated and others will blur. This is why I advise young artists to soften and even lose a line - the eye just doesn't see everything in it's visual field all clean and crisp.

So many thanks to Dan at The website contains a plethora of information for artists and art lovers. You are even invited to submit your artwork (as I did) and/or an article. There are some wonderfully noteworthy contributors.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Year in Review #5

I've finished with the "Business" category and move on t0 the "Artwork":
  • I read recently that one of the mistakes artists make is not determining what direction they want their career path to go in, i.e. becoming a museum artist or an artist that makes $50,000 yearly. (that's all?) I say why can't an artist do both - create museum worthy artwork that SELLS.
I believe in that goal more than ever. I plan on applying to the Appleton Museum's Biennial Exhibit for 2008 and I just received notification of acceptance to exhibit in a group show at the Elliott Museum in Stuart, Florida. The "group" is five other members of our "Out of Hand Artists" salon. I've met artists who create artwork dependant on grants and prizes to support themselves. Great museum exposure but they're struggling financially. I believe I can compete in these venues AND support myself through sales of my artwork.
  • I intend to learn e-bay once and for all and offer "painting a day" size originals from this blog and the website.
This is just not for me, period. My focus is elsewhere.
  • The book. The book will be finished and in print by...drum roll please...summer 2007. There it is in writing. About twenty-five more drawings and we've got ourselves a best-seller!
No way. As much as I've worked on the drawings and very close to that "twenty-five" goal, I have other priorities. I refuse to beat myself up over this. When the time is right it's just right.
  • I will consider...consider, mind you...renting a larger studio. I love working at home but realistically I outgrew my studio years ago. Plus, Michael needs more space for his office and printing which will move him into my current studio space.
This is still an issue. I did inquire about some spaces throughout the year that were either too expensive, too far from home or not quite the space I need which is a high ceiling height. Michael and I are now considering building a studio in our back yard or adding on to the house. This will increase the value of the property and I'll get the specific space required for my needs.

Tomorrow it the "personal" category...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Year in Review #4

Continuing on with my assessment of Goals set for 2007. Still in the "business" catagory:

  • This year Michael and I are poised to experiment with POD (print on demand). I'll soon offer an open edition giclee quality reproduction on canvas in any size requested.

Mission accomplished! The response from all my galleries and clients is all positive. I did change the first image I wanted to experiment with from a farm scene to a dynamic racing scene (wise choice). My galleries are thrilled and relieved, having their sales limited in the past by size constraints. They all report that clients are extremely receptive to the idea, aren't really concerned about "limited editions" or certificates of authenticity. Yes, there are some holdouts, but let's face it, with rapidly advancing technology the first giclee is as good as the thousandth or even better. Instead of increasing my prices due to escalating costs of ink, canvas and most of all - shipping, I maintained the same pricing structure but offered fourteen different sizes of the image (or whatever it would constrain to).

giclee reproduction"Harrowing", my first P.O.D. giclee reproduction.

This is most definitely a direction I will be pursuing. Tomorrow I'll tackle the "artwork" goal catagory.

Chow's stitches were easily removed this morning (I was concerned about that) but he required a "jug" before leaving the vet's office. "Jug" is race track for intravenous fluids.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chow's Ordeal

siamese catMy precious Siamese, Chow, is finally starting to feel better. He rolled around on the walk leading up to my front stairs and basked in the sunshine today.

It's been a rough ten days. Tomorrow, his stainless steel stitches are removed. He's been in pain, depressed, not eaten, puked and just had a generally awful week. Depressed myself over his suffering, I called the vet last Friday and she gave us more painkillers which got us through the weekend. Today he's walking around, nibbling some food and looking much brighter. He's also begun to fuss with the stitches - good sign.

mast cell tumorMast cell tumor removed, matching surgery on the other leg.

Without doubt, this is the last time I will put him through this nightmare regardless...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Year in Review #3

Continuing with my review of year-long goals set for 2007. Still in business section:
  • I have over forty images in giclee reproduction. Widespread distribution throughout the country (and beyond) is imperative. The images should be in every race track, gift shop, tack shop, feed store, frame shop - and any other outlet we can get them into.
This was easier said than done. Michael and I attempted to acquire a state a week. In retrospect, the giclees are still relatively pricey as opposed to poster-type prints which abound. That cold hard fact eliminated many venues. We also discovered that potential clients desire to see the product in person, up front, for real, to be assured that it's viable merchandise of quality worthy of the price structure. Mailing the giclees for inspection is price prohibitive and invites all manner of possible complications. We've logged close to 20,000 miles of travel this year for marketing, gallery orders, client orders, moving work from one place to another, etc. As Barney Davey states: how do you acquire clients? One at a time...

  • 2006 was the first year that I made a concrete positive shift in my attitude about bookkeeping and marketing. I love the left-brained me that I didn't know existed! My first year of keeping books was a learning experience and is improving. As for marketing, my goal is to read books and materials, network, take courses, attend seminars - whatever it takes to continue to grow my business.
Done! Bookkeeping has become a pleasant habit. Tackled daily, it's a cinch. I accomplish a feeling of control and scrutinize my financial health (or lack). Marketing is an ongoing endeavor. I continue to read the latest buzz books and attend as many seminars as I can. I attended the Bruce Baker Workshop, Alyson Stanfield Workshop and the Southern Regional Conference on Self-Employment in the Arts. Founding "Out of Hand Artists" business and marketing artist salon was a huge accomplishment for me this year and it continues to expand. More on that one later...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Year in Review #2

From Goals 2007:
  • As the projects grow in physical size, I intend to seek corporate clients and representation. I'm thinking lobbys of sports books, walls of race tracks and other sporting facilities, boardrooms, any public buildings, etc.
Not there yet, but I'm planting seeds. A few designers are interested as well as my gallery in Hot Springs. One of my goals for 2008 will be directed at learning how to get to the people who make the art-related decisions at these facilities. I recently applied to attend a marketing workshop sponsored by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. In the application, I was required to state what marketing challenges I faced in my career. How do I gain access to these people?? I'm confident that once I can somehow arrange a meeting, I can easily sell myself. More goals from 2007:
  • The cash flow this year was great. However, I'm implementing a new business plan with Michael's help to increase sales. I intend to increase my income by ??? The amount is as large as I can envision.
I'm thrilled to say I've reached my financial goal even though I now realize my "vision" was too limited regardless that it was more than I've ever made from the sales of my paintings and related merchandise (giclees and gift items). I'll increase it by 150% for 2008.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Year in Review

I'd love to post photos of the commissions I've been working on but they gifts. Maybe after the first of the year.

So I'll start my review. Some of the goals that I set for 2007, beginning with business are: oh, and before I begin, here's a profound quote from landscape artist Linda Blondheim: "I stopped chasing my impossible goals, which were depressing me, and started refocusing on what I loved". I should take note...
  • I believe I can take this so-called "genre" painting and pull it into the mainstream.
    Confidence abounds thanks to the response from non-horse people who purchase my paintings and giclees. Continuing in the direction of the current multi-canvas project, the creations will increase accessibility to a wider, larger client base.equine art
I have only begun to market the multi-canvas project. I worked it to the end and it's beautiful. Thirteen and a half by thirteen foot. Plenty large enough for an impressive foyer. A couple of designers have taken note. Another multi-canvas project that I sold has recently been offered to me as an exhibit piece. I heard that the Appleton Museum of Art here in Ocala is issuing a call for artists next month for their Biennial Exhibit. These two pieces plus another could be good candidates. Hah! I'd become a museum artist! And I have another idea for a similar project in mind, something very innovative, but I'm thankfully swamped with commissions for now.

contemporary artIn 2007, I fully embraced this goal, in 2008, this is a path I intend to continue...

To all of you who e-mail, called, posted or otherwise offered your support to my physically challenged cat Chow, I say thank you, thank you, thank you. He's doing okay considering (good days, bad days). Bless you all for the love.

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Siamese

Our cat Chow had some mast cell tumors removed yesterday. Usually occurring around the face and ears, three tumors formed on his front ankles. This condition is dire with dogs - our prognosis is better. Apparently, this is somewhat common with Siamese which I did not know.

He's stitched and hurting even with the pain medication. I said no to chemo and a splenectomy. He's fourteen and a precious light in my life. We'll take this no further.

Dr. Jenny Salpeter of Brick City Cat Hospital performed the surgery. I have confidence in her talent and abilities even though I'm a holistic believer. We can take the best from both worlds, can't we?

This ordeal brings thoughts of how we're all affected by cancer in some way, be it through friends, relatives or ourselves. Is our planet so toxic? Or is the detection technology vastly improved? What I do know is that it's so damn prevalent.

Chow came to us in Oakland, California an 1993. We have a history together of travels, travails and hysterical joy. What a pistol and handful of cat he was when he was a kid. He made us laugh to tears.

He still makes me smile when nothing else can.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Goals and Accomplishments

At the end of this month, I'll make a list of this year's accomplishments. This is an extremely effective exercise to bolster confidence and affirm forward directives. Especially since I'm one of the most impatient artists in the world and desire everything NOW. This produces unnecessary angst for myself. The accomplishments list verifies that I'm doing okay and making steady headway in my goals. If you're interested: What I Did 2006.

Just today I discussed one of my goals that eludes me with a very sharp and prominent businessman. He pointed out that it sounded like a politically motivated decision not so much in my control realm. Dang, that's head-bangingly frustrating. More on that one later...

So, I thought in the next couple of weeks I'd review my Goal list for 2007. It's interesting to note that some of them are loftier and more difficult to attain that I perceived, while some aren't as important to me as they were a year ago. The interesting twists and turns, detours and distractions on life's path.

"One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts". -Albert Einstein

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Weekend of Soirees

A few months back Jeanne Winslow of Horse Shows in the Park contacted me about using my artwork for their show program cover. I was honored. Then, she graciously invited us to the Awards Banquet and Dinner Dance at the Ocala Hilton on Saturday night. Over 220 families were on hand to reap the rewards of hard work and diligent horsemanship throughout the year.

horse shows in the parkA slide show continuously chronicled the events and participants.

hunter jumpersAn unbelievable array of ribbons, trophies, cups, plates, barn gifts and so forth was awarded to the winners of several categories.

gicleeMoi presented a giclee of the image chosen for the cover art to a top winner.

ocala hiltonAn enthusiastic and supportive crowd.

On Sunday night the Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers held their Annual Stallion Showcase and Silent Auction Fund Raiser, also at the Hilton.

florida thoroughbred farm managersA great turnout of bidders.

equine artMoi donated a small giclee of "Harrowing". I'm with good friend Moe Hahn who is the 2008 Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers cover artist. She's standing next to the cover artwork - a slick, somewhat abstract driving piece.

thoroughbred horse racingMichael was the winning bidder on some books about historical thoroughbred breeding. I bought raffle tickets but didn't stick around for the drawing as I'm burning the proverbial double-ended candle.

Darn it, they were for stuffed meercats.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Farm Credit of North Florida

The folks at Farm Credit of North Florida are the best. Dori Morgan includes me in lots of their events and activities and gives me free rein to market and promote myself. The Ocala office hosted a holiday open house and invited me to put on a little art show. How cool that the invitations included moi.

farm credit of north floridaThere's "Harrowing" over the couch and "Live Oak" behind Torie in violet. Don is standing in front of a live, fragrant tree. He wrote an wonderful article about me a while back which was featured in their quarterly magazine. I'll miss you Don when you retire next month and wish you a leisurely and luxurious time off.

equine artYou'll never go hungry when you hang out with this group. These folks work hard yet recognize when to have some fun. I exchanged business cards with interesting people, saw some old friends...and ate...all day. That's "Sneakin Off" on the back wall.

Thank you all for a great day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lovely and Peaceful

Photography is not my forte. Perhaps because my approach is utilitarian. I photograph mainly for reference material and don't perceive it as the art medium it deserves. Thankfully there are those who do recognize the art form and create beautiful pictures. These artists use all the same elements of shape, light, color, contrast, composition, etc. that a painter does.

My dear friend Lynn, who is an extraordinary web designer, took these photos at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville. We walked off the huge holiday dinner while she went on a mission to capture the quiet splendor around us.


cat sculptureCat sculpture.

Real garden cat.

siamese catGiant lily pads.

Aromatic and exotic. Manna for butterflies.

mushroomsFairy stuff.

honey beesBees! There's still some left...

kanapaha botanical gardensNo, I'm not inspired to paint any of this. For me to simply savor.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Artist to the Stars

Received a phone call from my book partner today. She's psyched to get back into production but I explained to her that I own a couple of big fat frogs to eat before Christmas. Seems I'm going to get hit with the old last minute slam as usual but I'm up to the task.

Being the writer extraordinaire, she made a suggestion for an article she'd like to tackle for national dissemination. Titled: "Artist to the Stars", she wants to feature some of my well-know clients who may or may not be celebrities but who are nevertheless well know in their respective endeavors. Although I explained that I respect the privacy of my clients, it was a delicious idea. Why else would the tabloids and TV rags sell ad space if people weren't paying attention? It's an indulgence for even the most astute of us. Sometimes we're just a little...curious...

Perhaps a "human interest" story?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

An abundant day to all...

Giving thanks for all our blessings, here's a few things I'm thankful for in no particular order:
  • Being busy. Commissions and other various work abounds in this "slow" economy. Not so slow for myself or other artist friends. The arts continue to thrive.
  • Excellent clients. My clients are heaven sent. They're generous, easy to work with and trust in my artistic instincts. Bless you all.
  • Awesome gallery representation. In particular: Fayette Gallery, Gallery Central and of course the Paddock Room Galleries. Caroline is an angel in my life.
  • "Out of Hand Artists" salon which I started this year. Eleven incredibly talented artists who are working this business of marketing and selling art. Serious, focused and intent. Support and encouragement are the basis for getting us studio hermits out and about to make it happen.
  • My passions. My heart lives on my sleeve as I embrace the entire milieu of speed, emotion, explosive power, dynamic movement and all things horse in expression.
  • My precious cats. Anytime and in any situation they can make me smile - priceless.
  • Friends who valiantly confront and bravely beat cancer.
  • Everyone who believes in me. Everyone who "gets" me. Everyone who urges me through the challenges. The list is too long, you all know who you are. Thank you.
  • Last but not least, my husband Michael who is my agent, representative, VIP in charge of Marketing, Sales and Research, my printer, my lover, muse, main squeeze, my best friend.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Half Moon Bay

When I was going through old photos for my recent post "Race Track Stories", I came across these incredible shots. One of our Irish peers, John Roch, had taken a job breaking babies at a ranch out at Half Moon Bay just south of San Francisco. John invited us out to see the spectacular scenery and wow, was it ever. The two guys jumped on a couple of babies and made their way down a steep cliff to gallop on the beach.

half moon bayThat's them to the right of the bottom pilings. In the spring, gigantic waves reaching 30 feet tall register on the Richter scale at the University of California in Berkeley, about 40 miles away. It's a world class surfing destination.

parachutesAs I made my way back up the cliffs, a parachutist had arrived on the horse path and was jumping up and down like a fledgling, testing the conditions in preparation to jump off the edge. I smiled to myself wondering, oh boy, how are the babies going to react to this bazaar phenomenon. Like this happens every day. Michael is in the blue jacket.

thoroughbredsHere's how horses are: they made their way past the parachutist very curious but unfazed, then ducked and dived from moi standing at the top of the hill with my camera aimed at them!

"In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. Eleven-hundred pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster. " ~Author Unknown

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Risky Business

Eleanor BrennanA young rider and her horse were both killed while competing in the cross-country event at the Florida Horse Park yesterday. Freakish, upsetting and tragic. Truth is, horse people all know someone who has been maimed or killed in horse-related accidents. And we've all been kicked, stomped, bitten, dumped, flung and had our bells rung somehow. The majority of the time it's an accident, not the horse being hostile or aggressive. Thoroughbreds are notorious for spooking easily and running over people trying to escape whatever scared them. Their instinct is to flee, period. They're quick, we're slow.

The inherent dangers are routine for jockeys. They go to work each day with an ambulance following as they do their jobs. Horses snap legs off, people get killed.

And as you can see, it's not just horse racing.

Horse sports are thrilling, exciting, breathtaking yet potentially deadly. This volatility permeates, it's what puts the edge in my work.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Race Track Stories

saratoga new yorkMichael two minute licking at Oklahoma Training Track circa 1983. Looking so damn good.

Back in the day, Michael could horseback a runner. He was much in demand, named his price and was very busy. So busy we would fight because I'd have to get someone else to get on OUR horses while he got on between 15-18 a day for other trainers. These trainers performed acts of trust and faith seeing that we were also a claiming operation. I guess they figured it was worth the risk. The caveat of Michael being so good was that he was sought out for the "bad" ones. Apparently a guardian angel rode alongside him as he never, ever got hurt. Dumped a few times but he always got up and stomped off in a huff.

oklahoma training trackMichael on our pony "Spit" adjusting the bridle for an exercise rider at Oklahoma Training Track in Saratoga, New York, also about 1983 or so.

The stories we could tell would take you into the middle of next week. You'd swear we were full of crapola. Although the race track life can be a mundane and exhausting grind, it's also raw, unpredictable and dangerous. The cast of characters resembles those in a Hollywood murder thriller.

horse racingIrish jockey Jean Campbell and moi at Golden Gate Fields circa 1994. Jean won her first race in the States on one of our fillies - and by ten+ lengths.

California has a healthy population of Irish horsemen and women. I have a lot of respect for them - they're kind, patient and extremely attentive and loving to their horses. My God, can they put away a pint or two (or a dozen or two). The drunker they get, the more difficult it is to understand their broughs which thickens as the night wears on. "Fookin" abounds.

del mar thoroughbred clubMorning breaks at Del Mar circa 1995.

"May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back..."

Monday, November 12, 2007

All the Pretty Horses

I'm haven't been discussing any new work because I'm still involved with the large mural commission. It's a bear in myriad ways but I'm coming to terms and seeing light down that suffocating tunnel.

I strain to be me, to be "dynamic" and inject the piece with energy, movement and perhaps a bit of violence. Everyday Michael reminds me to seek that place where my client is...and it's calm, peaceful and dare I say, joyful. No wild eyes, no flaring nostrils, no crashing surf. So I fret then I acquiesce. I restrain, pull in the reins, then I rebel. Blood pressure increases, breath quickens. Seeking a suitable compromise in meditation, I cross over to a milieu of serenity, then stifle boredom. There are many lessons to be learned from this painting. My wise friends have advised me to embrace my client's sensibilities, go there, be there, it's all good. But it's not comfortable, not zone friendly.

Today I worked on the horses. I feel much better. Yes, they sure are pretty.

Friday, November 09, 2007

More Artists I Admire

A few weeks back while in Lexington, KY, we had some time to kill before John Henry's Memorial Service. I had seen the downtown Thoroughbred Park but never up close and personal.thoroughbred parkIn my opinion, Gwen Reardon is the most awesome living horse sculptress today. Maybe ever.

lexington kentuckyThese life-size race horses are nothing short of magnificent. The knowledge of anatomy and attention to detail that only an artist of experience or a shrewd researcher could attain is amazing.

horse racingMy bestest and dearest friend Lynn accompanied us on the excursion. She is photographer extraordinaire and took most of these photos minus this one. That's her and moi posing for scale.

kentucky horse parkGwen Reardon also created some lovely sculptures at the Kentucky Horse Park. Her foals are endearingly lovely.

horse sculptureI don't think Gwen did this sculpture at the Kentucky Horse Park but we loved it just the same.

When I make the big bucks, my garden will be full of incredible sculptures like these.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Postcards from Ocala

The drive over to my dear friend Modie's house winds through some of the most scenic areas of Ocala. This what we pay the miserable sweltering summers for:

blue sink grottoA group of weanlings or weaners enjoy the beautiful fall weather. This is Blue Sink Grotto, a farm in western Marion County with huge sinkholes suitable for diving.

ocala floridaLooks like a painting to me. Too bad I don't do these lovely pastoral scenes. Well, I try, just not very well. I want to inject every painting with power, movement and emotional passion. I guess this could be considered a prelude to what I'll eventually end up expressing about these brumbies.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I'm busy slapping paint on canvas and tending to all other art business related chores. I'm taking marketing very seriously and must say I'm proud of how organized I've become. List making helps me focus on what to get done and when. It's satisfying to cross off the "to do's" with a flourish. Damn, I'm amazingly prolific. Yeah, yeah, yeah - I'm aware of my compulsive workaholic tendencies.

show jumpingNow here's some things I won't do: speculative paintings. Nope, no more. Every time I allow myself to get talked into one I eat it. This includes the Street Sense giclee reproductions and the H.I.T.S. cover art. It's non-productive and takes away from the money-making artwork. An artist can only create a certain amount of paintings a year and they've got to have financial impact. Truly matter. I'll only do bona fide commissions sans vague requests and promises of glory. Everyone is willing to further my career by giving me important "exposure" as long as I provide free artwork.

Here's one thing I will do: paint a lawn jockey!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Anniversary

Yesterday was Michael's and moi's anniversary. Macabre? On Halloween? You betcha.

It was 1980. We had two horses in at Calder - one in an early race and one in the last. We ran the first one (can't remember how it did), cooled it out and did it up. We then hurried over to the racetrack chaplain, Rev. Holsomer (bless his soul) and asked him to marry us. We had all the appropriate paper work acquired through blood tests. He informed us that two witnesses were required. Resourceful Michael ran over to the HBPA (Horsemans' Benevolence and Protection Association) and asked the secretary, Alice Michael if she would be a witness. He then rushed over to A.E. Cohen's, an well-known institution of clothing and racing accessories and asked Mr. Cohen if he'd witness the event. Both Mrs. Michael and Mr. Cohen acquiesed and we still call it our Kosher wedding. After the brief ceremony we ran back to the barn to get the other horse ready for the last.

Romantic, huh?

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I'm getting over it. Street Sense got beat and I'll have some schmoozing to do. Forget about the reproductions unless I can interest Darley Stud where the boy's headed. The original should sell when the horse people roll back into Hot Springs in January. This is why I don't care to do fans have such short memories.

ocala art festivalWe've had some dreary weather in Ocala for the last few days but the rain held off bringing out the crowds for the Ocala Arts Festival.

landscape paintingArtist Mary Verrandeaux has a great looking booth showcasing her vivid, appealing landscapes. She's also a friend and OoHA member. I admire her professional efforts and big thinking. A career to watch and follow...

florida landscapeTwo more OoHA members: Jackie Schindehette and equine artist Moe Hahn in Jackie's booth. Jackie paints lovely Florida landscapes in oil and is incredibly successful with the outdoor festival circuit. Moe and I are great buddies commiserating together about the fickle world of equine art.

infrared photographyPhotographer extraordinaire Kent Weakley creates amazing works of art utilizing infrared film techniques. Atmospheric and haunting in a evocative way.

dogs in artDid you know dogs love art festivals?