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?