Friday, April 27, 2007

The Oklawaha River

It's Friday and a perfect day to finish my nine multi-canvas piece! Whoohoo! I can't show a photo of it as my studio is too small for assemblage. I figured out today that it will be about 14' high and 13' wide. Lot's of logistics involved with constructing all the canvases together and it will be weighty as I've used all heavy-duty stretcher bars. Suggestions are appreciated.

canoeI'm so tired of work, work, work. I really need a break. However, I did escape to canoe down the Oklawaha River one afternoon. Sandwiches, beer and my sweetie on the river makes me so peaceful...

wild riverIt's still mating season for the alligators and they love to court in the reeds and lily pads. We didn't see too many as the river's been cleaned and opened up.

cypress treeLove the cypress knees. They look like little figures from a mysterious underworld.

the secretMichael asked me to photograph this vine/warrior lizard on hind legs.

turtles and alligatorsTurtles were abundant as they boldly sunned themselves.

tropical birds
I think these are Ibis. Not sure but there were plenty of 'em. They played a game of waiting for us in the trees and then squawking loudly as they flew down the river and waited again just to repeat the scenario over and over.

siamese cat
Indulge me. Here's the dude himself. Fourteen, healthy and way too wise for a cat. "Chow" has a lot of class. How did that happen?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Entrepreneurship & the Arts

Michael and I attended the inaugural Entrepreneurship & the Arts at the University of Tampa on Saturday. It was an intensive all-day conference of information and networking. As I repeat often to my salon group, Out of Hand Artists, there's a meager amount of marketing/business resources available to artists so take advantage. The presenters were outstanding. The highlights for us were:

Dr. Larry Thompson, President of Ringling College of Art and Design. He was the first speaker and set the tone for "strategic thinking". Providing us with a list of "guerrilla marketing" tactics, we were on our way to getting down to business. Ringling will be offering the first ever art business major in 2008. A concept way overdue.

Brent C.J. Britton, Esq., Attorney, Squire Sanders & Dempsey. Brent was a fascinating, dynamic speaker jamming a ton of copyright and contract information into 50 minutes. Complex yet so vitally important to anyone creating anything. To summarize: get it in writing!

George Charles Koch, Chair, Artomatic Inc. This was Michael's favorite speaker. Artomatic is an idea conceived to promote change and build community by artists. After persuading owners of large empty buildings to lend them to the arts for six weeks out of the year, the idea has grown into a yearly, hugely anticipated and attended event. Besides visual artists, musicians, poets and other performance artists participate. George was great inspiration to anyone trying to create change in the arts on a local level.

Jeff Whipple, Artist/Writer. Wow, could this guy draw and paint! I loved listening to his captivating presentation which followed a time line from his college days. Jeff has received a long list of grants, awards, solo shows, and other accolades. I had a chance to chat with him at the reception and he revealed his frustration at not being able to market his controversial work. Thanks for being so candid, Jeff. It's still an incredible body of work.

mover and shaker"The Mover and Shaker" 2007 oil on canvas, 70"x70" by Jeff Whipple

Friday, April 20, 2007

Artistic Influences Part II

I've been giving a good deal of thought to the master horse painters who've influenced my development as a contemporary equine artist. My post about artistic influences last week led to these artists that I left out.

Ahh...Caravaggio. "The Conversion of Saint Paul". The gentleness of this pinto as he carefully lifts a leg to avoid stepping on St. Paul. The light, the color, the drama...

When I was in art school studying the impressionists, I searched out Edgar Degas' racing paintings while my peers studied the dancers. Degas obviously loved the races as much as I. No starting gates here. Look at this horse straining for grass as they line up for the start.

"Shoeing" by nineteenth century English artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer. He was most famous for his canine paintings but also rendered beautiful equine and wildlife paintings.

Another English painter, a bit more contemporary, Sir Alfred Munnings. When I worked at Santa Anita Park in California, his paintings adorned the walls of the Turf Club. It wasn't long before their increasing value necessitated an auction at Sotheby's. I'm so glad I had the chance to see them in a most appropriate setting. Each painting commanded around a million bucks.

Back at stateside, Frederick Remington's "Dash for the Timber" is one of my all-time favorite paintings. It's said that Remington requested his tombstone to read "...let it be said he could paint the horse...". I don't know how true that is but I'll say it for him. No magnificent steeds here but rather scrappy, tough little horses in a race for survival.

In my opinion, the painter's painter - modern, living artist Andre Pater. You can see the influence of Munnings on his work. The hounds are his specialty, but he can paint anything.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Only Love Prevails

Thank you Susan Reynolds for permission to use your artwork.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Artistic Influences

I've been working with some material provided as an e-book called The Relatively Pain-Free Artist's Statement by Alyson B. Stanfield. Verbalizing and using adequate language to describe my work is a challenge. Artists are such visual creatures. I'm enjoying the exercises, one of which asks: who has been your artistic influences?

I study the master horse painters in a continuous search for an emotional element. By now I can draw and paint horses as well as anyone. But can I infuse it with this passion?

What a lovely painting by Peter Paul Rubens entitled "St. George and the Dragon". Abundantly flowing mane and tail depicted in the Roccoco style.

It's intense emotions and feelings revealed in these paintings that strike a vivid chord in my psyche. I've made it my mission to replicate this milieu. It's daunting. Eugene Delacroix tells an phenomenal story in every fiery painting. Two Arab stallions fighting.

"The Horse Fair" by French artist Rosa Bonheur. I've visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City numerous times throughout my life just to sit in awe in front of this massive painting. What an incredible masterpiece.

The facial expression: wild eyes, pinned ears, flowing mane, I'm humbled by it's spectacular aura. This detail of "The Horse Fair" is reminiscent of Theodore Gericault's "Race of the Barbari Horses". Wow.

Will I ever achieve the understanding, the empathy of these outstanding master horse painters? I'll forever search my soul and push the dynamics of my own artwork for the answers. Reminding myself that I live in a different era, my heart is still so connected. This is the British painter Lucy Kemp-Welch describing the brave calvary horses of WWI.

"Head of a Horse" by my favorite horse artist ever - Theodore Gericault from the French Romantic Period. It's thought to be Napolean's favorite horse. Whatever, this painting is so haunting, so compellingly beautiful that when I finally make it to the Louvre to see it, I'll drop down to my knees and sob.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Horse Racing and Drugs in the U.S.A.

horse racingBy now you know I'm a proponent for totally drug-free horse racing. I realize that it's an extremely complicated issue to be argued back and forth and up and down, but Michael pointed out this article on the Daily Racing Form's website which glaringly illustrates my point. The subject is the retirement of Eclipse Award winner Miesque's Approval who possesses his own very interesting rags-to-riches story. His ran his last race in the The Dubai Duty Free and turned in a disappointingly dull performance. You can read about it for yourself here.

Consider this quote from his trainer, Marty Wolfson. "They can't race on any medication in Dubai, which is a disadvantage for most if not all the American horses - and especially an 8-year-old like Miesque's Approval, who is kind of arthritic." Which brings me back to my position that with drug-free racing only the most talented, athletic and fittest individuals will win races. And imagine - trainers will actually have to be horsemen and horsewomen again instead of the promotional agents they are now.

secrets of horse racingSo who benefits from the blocks, milkshakes and other various hops? Not the trainers as you might at first think. Instead consider vet bills to rival a state budget and owners who pressure a ''win at all costs" attitude and then turn a blind eye to the realities on the backside. And if it's a top trainer who's burdened with these demands it becomes all the more compelling. If you follow horse racing you're aware that six out of the top ten trainers have served suspensions and/or hefty fines in the last year.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Postcards from Gallery Central

I absolutely loved Hot Springs! In a 3/4 mile strip on Central Avenue live 15-20 art galleries interspersed with antique shops, trendy restaurants and other eclectic offerings. Hot Springs is listed #4 in the top 100 small art towns in the USA. Indeed it is and with the most friendly and accommodating people.

hot springs <span class=The town is nestled at the base of forested mountains bordering Hot Springs National Park. Even though the day was overcast, I'd have to say the view is 50+ miles.

<span class=Bess Sanders, owner of Gallery Central, invited Michael and I to her box seats at Oaklawn Park. The dogwoods are in bloom as well as spectacular azaleas. The Hot Springs Mountain Tower looms in the background. The big event for the next week or so is the Racing Festival of the South which finishes up the meet with several graded stake races including the $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby, an important Kentucky Derby prep race.

gallery centralBut lest I digress from my real reason for being there. Bess runs the biggest and most beautiful gallery in the historic downtown area. This year she wanted to exhibit a couple of equine artists to coincide with the racing festivities at Oaklawn. I was most blessed to be included along with Jan Woods, who creates amazing bronze sculptures. Every first Friday of the month features a Gallery Art Walk in the evening, keeping the doors of the galleries and shops open and inviting.

equine art galleryL to R: Artist Jan Woods in front of one of her exquisite bronzes; Bess Sanders, gallery owner extraordinaire; Rae Johnson, gallery manager and former race tracker (my kinda woman!); and moi.

horse art galleryOf course everyone loves to congregate in Bess' gallery. This is Gallery Walk last Friday night and it's packed! Jan and I both sold well. I loved meeting and talking to so many gracious people to explain my work, the giclee process, etc.

bronze horse sculpturesMen seemed especially intrigued by my original oil "Blue Blinkers". It's a powerful depiction of a horse rearing in the starting gate. Horses behaving badly.

artist <span class=I think my paintings and Jan's sculpture compliment each other beautifully. Many, many heartfelt thanks to Bess Sanders for her most generous hospitality and Rae Johnson for all her help and support. A total positive, fun and enjoyable experience for Michael and I.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Hot Springs, Arkansas!

Tonight we conduct the sixth session of our artists "salon". Many topics to discuss including deciding on an official name and mission statement. We are a powerful group of successful artists. Our focus is on business and marketing and the shifts and changes occurring with each one of us is nothing short of amazing. More info on us later...

Very early tomorrow morning we are Arkansas bound, Hot Springs to be exact. All week long Michael and I have been busy readying the originals and giclees for Gallery Central. I'm so excited and looking forward to this exhibit. We get to meet lots of new people. I don't think we've ever been to Arkansas or even driven through it. A new place to explore! I've been told to take in a "bath" while there.

<span class=The races at the Dubai World Cup on Saturday were fascinating to watch, bringing together the best of the best horses and trainers on the planet. The American horses didn't dominate as in past years but still upheld a strong competitive presence. I admire the "no drugs" policy of hay, oats and water. Seems to me that rule separates the fastest, strongest, fittest and truly talented horses from the rest. That's the Argentinian-bred Horse of the Year Invasor romping to victory.

Steve Bailey of Thoroughbred Times attended a lavish party to launch the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum for his new racing complex in Dubai in 2010. These words appeared across three screens: “When we dream alone, it is only a dream. When we dream together, it is the beginning of reality.”