Monday, June 30, 2008

Crunch Time

Michael spoke to my excellent gallery director in Saratoga Springs, NY - Equidae Gallery - this past weekend and she's requesting that I deliver my paintings on July 22nd. I'm quite oblivious to any grid of linear time. That said, there willl be some long studio days in the next few weeks. Fourth of July just became an inconvenient pain in the a**.

Terry loves "Diagnal" and wants to hang it. While in creation process with the piece, I mentioned some concern with the logistics of such a large, off balanced artwork. Not wanting to discourage my flow, Michael replied, "just make it and we'll worry about that later". Well, later is now and we're considering the expertise of a metal fabrication shop in town to help brace and stabilize it. This is just for the temporary exhibit. Anything permanent is a non-issue.

equine art"Diagnal" oil on nine separate canvases. Approx. 13'5"x13'5" fully assembled.
Total weight: 72 lbs.

"It is often said that the modern exhibition has ruined painting. It is an unfortunate fact that it does encourage competition, so that, to attract attention to his work, an artist is tempted to descend to sensationalism, whether it is expressed by strong colour, grotesque handling, unusual subject, or sheer size". - Walter J. Phillips

Well, I've always had that flair to descend...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Damage Control

It's inevitable that I begin to address the many serious issues surrounding the sport and, er, "business" that is my lifeblood. I'm relieved that it's all come to the forefront. However, I didn't foresee the avalanche of troubles crashing down simultaneously. The domino effect...I suppose.

Therefore, a smattering of posts in the near future will focus on my extremely biased yet experienced opinions of current affairs in horse racing in America. The issues are too numerous to tackle in one post, so, I'll start with: one governing body.

At the recent meeting with the congressional Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection during a hearing entitled "Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns", racing's finest were in agreement that "racing needs a national governing authority". Amen. Discussions on the table included creating uniform rules in racing's 38 states. In addition to the varying amounts of acceptable levels of medication from state to state (to be discussed in a future post), there is also inconsistent approval of license applications nationwide.

Case in point: the immensely talented yet troubled Patrick Valenzuela. Let's just say he holds apatrick valenzuela long history of substance abuse problems which have repeated derailed an otherwise stellar career as an outstanding race-rider (remember Sunday Silence?). California tolerated P-Val's drug and alcohol tribulations for years. He'd get popped, ruled off, and re-instated. He shaved off all of his body hair in an attempt to foil the chemists. Oh, and remember the armed taxi-cab holdup? Regardless of the fact that charges were dropped, how to you think the New York State Board of Pari-Mutual Wagering would have reacted to such shenanigans? Sternly and harshly, me thinks. In recent times, P-Val rode in California with a "conditional" license until getting popped again for a DUI on Dec. 20, 2007.

Now, he's riding in New Mexico and winning races. My intention is not to pick on P-Val but his example illustrates the huge inconsistency of rule enforcement within racing jurisdictions. And I haven't even touched on the drug issue, absolute insurer rule, race track security for the backside, American obsession with speed, responsibility and actions of vets and owner, etc.

Fairness is what justice really is.” - Potter Stewart

Monday, June 23, 2008

Saratoga Grandstand Beginning

saratoga racetrackWash drawing, 24"x48"

The most requested Saratoga painting is of a race with the recognizable grandstand in the background. Mind you, it's an undertaking. This first wash drawing took me two days. Straight edging the architectural lines is a breeze compared to the huge crowd scene that should be convincingly portrayed. I've been trying to find other artists who've managed it within any sports genre. Interesting.

My group of runners aren't working. The depth of field and perspective is off but at least I realized it immediately. I thought the laggers at the back of the pack would get noticeably smaller as they followed the leaders into the turn but the viewpoint is tighter, closer, and the horses should all appear similar in size, even as they turn away. I especially noticed this with the second from last (left) horse that I wanted to go wide into the turn. After two days of intensive drawing, I'm anxious to get rolling so I'll fix the flaws and make changes as I go along. This is the point in the painting where these adjustments become apparent anyway.

I also started another painting to work on when this one drives me nuts.

A hundred years ago when I was in art school, my painting teacher suggested that I begin a painting from the center and work my way out. This would give me a frame of reference for spatial relationships and values. I think he realized that my subject would be inherently complex. In this piece, I think he's right.

"Perspective is to painting what the bridle is to the horse, the rudder to a ship". - Leonardo da Vinci

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blog Store: Oklahoma Morning II

saratoga race track"Oklahoma Morning II", oil on canvas, 8"x10"

Light from a soft, back lit source illuminates this barn scene at the Oklahoma training track in Saratoga Springs, NY. At first glance, I was unsure of the composition of the big tree which dominates the picture plane. It seemed overpowering and divisive yet I felt compelled to leave it as is. When I calculated the mathematics (nothing even a bit intellectual, I assure you) the picture plane was divided via the golden proportion. Sometimes I just get lucky.

"The most pleasant and useful persons are those who leave some of the problems of the universe for God to worry about". - Don Marquis.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Van

Not having driven our old faithful blue Ford van in quite awhile, Michael intentionally sent me driving it home to retrieve a broom as we were cleaning out our rented storage space. He'd been in my ear for quite awhile about the van not feeling or sounding right. I thought he was dropping some not-so-subtle hints for a new vehicle.

Was I ever wrong. The poor ol' "Blue Bayou" coughed and strained the short half mile to the house. To say I was alarmed is an understatement. Closing in on 400,000 miles, the inevitable has occurred.

Behold! A shiny new red Ford van. Well, not brand new - a 2006.

ford vanIt's a bit shorter than "Blue Bayou" but younger, healthier and reliable. Sorry to say, I don't believe Blue would have made another trip up I-95 this summer.

fordIt was difficult to say goodbye to Blue today. Isn't it intriguing how memories become so strongly associated with an inanimate object?

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.” - Dr. Seuss

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blog Store, New Painting

Let the Saratoga paintings begin!

saratoga springs"Oklahoma Morning", oil on canvas 8"x10"

My blog store has turned out to be quite successful. Small pretty paintings, affordable prices. Three of the first four sold quickly. Many sincere thanks to my wonderful collectors. In case you're not familiar with racing in Saratoga Springs, New York - "Oklahoma" is the name of the training track across the street from the main track and grandstand. Some think it has more personality and uniqueness, moi included.

So, I e-mailed IEAH twice asking for permission to paint Big Brown. Trying to do things in a professional, correct manner at this stage of my career. Does that sound ironic? I've yet to hear from them, but you know, I'm not sure I want to paint him now. Certainly, nothing against the immensely talented horse, but one has to consider the viable marketability of a Big Brown painting after that whole mess.

He's all yours, Fred.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Exhibit at the University of Florida

I was invited to exhibit some of my artwork at the Alec P. and Louis H. Courtelis Equine Teaching Hospital at the University of Florida. You can't see from the photo but the walls of the front lobby are constructed of stained glass equine images derived from iconic primitive cave drawings of horses - much like the Lascaux Cave paintings.

Courtelis Equine Teaching Hospital
The horse statue in front was part of the Marion Cultural Alliance's wildly successful 2001 "Horse Fever" community art project in Ocala. This particular horse, "Fern", was created by our own "Out of Hand Artists" member Mary Verrandeaux.

lascaux cave paintingsHunter/jumper artwork with a view of the lobby.

sharon crute paintingsMy work graces the walls of a few key hallways. Above is a giclee of "Paydirt".

equine artOriginal oil, "Winter Sunset".

thoroughbred artA brief bio description and "Shadow", original oil.

"The pressure of constantly showing work motivates me to paint every day". - Linda Blondheim

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Day After

There's been enough speculation. But of course I have to add my two cents:

Michael isn't a Desormeaux fan and hates that he fought Big Brown after the break. I watched the replay carefully and have to agree. There was room for the horse to get up along the rail and he wasn't boxed in until Desormeaux fought him, trying to take him back and to the outside from the get go. When he was asked pre-race by Jeannine Edwards if going to the front was a possible strategy, Desormeaux replied with an emphatic "no! not at a mile and a half". Well, it worked for one horse. All hindsight now, however, and there are 101 reasons (excuses) that my horse got beat - as they say. It's good to know I'll probably see him at the Travers.

I guess this kills the deal with Suffolk Downs. Sufferin' Downs to me. Home. Where it all began. I may have even made the journey back to witness that Mass Cap. One thought leads to ancient musings which prompted me to dig out some of my old track badges that I've managed to save. Some of you reading this weren't even born yet when moi was pioneering and struggling to make way for the infinite possibilities you modern females enjoy at the track today. You're welcome. Please enjoy this stroll down the ol' timer's lane:

narragansett parkMy name was Wilson back then (brief husband no. 1). The year is 1973 at Narragansett Park (now an industrial park) and I worked for the notorious B.K. Sipp. Listen up kids - Dutrow is a cream puff compared to that bad actor.

lincoln downsHere's my partner in crime before we even met. The year is 1974 and he was one of the youngest to get a trainer's license. This was at the old Lincoln Downs, now a greyhound track (I think). It was here that I got my very first race track license at age fifteen.

rockingham parkPrecious at the old, wonderful Rockingham Park, now a shopping mall. Many, many fond memories of that party meet when we shipped over from Suffolk on the 4th of July to enjoy two short months at the lakes.

suffolk downsNotice the scarf and frozen expression. That's because Suffolk ran the winter meet - akin to being detained to a work camp in Siberia. It's 1979 and I'm still very young yet getting wise...

thoroughbred race tracksMy last year at Suffolk, 1983. Now married to husband no. 2. Ready and willing for bigger and better adventures...

"Hindsight is wonderful. It's always very easy to second guess after the fact". -
Helen Reddy

Friday, June 06, 2008

elliott museumNice write up regarding our exhibit at the Elliott Museum from the Indian River Magazine. Six members of my artists salon, "Out of Hand Artists" were selected to show last month and it was a well designed installation. I couldn't find the exact article but here's one about the museum in the same issue.

The editor, Gregory Enns, e-mailed some questions to me, giving me time to think and respond with something that vaguely sounded intelligent and knowledgeable. Easy in comparison to those one on one interviews that elicit brain blackouts.

Many sincere thanks to the staff at the Elliott Museum and the Indian River Magazine.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


big brownGeesh, with all the venom directed at Rick Dutrow this year, you'd think that there was never a jerkoff, druggie trainer to make good before now.

I say, lighten up people. Try working day in and day out alongside these types. Excruciating. So, why do the universal powers smile down on these guys? Well, here's my take:

Big Brown is the product of modest so-so breeding. Sold at Keeneland's 2007 Two-Year-Old in Training Sale for a paltry $190, 000. Small change in this biz of lofty international ambitions. Imagine this two-year-old in the barn of Pletcher, Asmussen or Frankel. Maybe even in the barn of my personal hero, Zito. With a barnful of royal, multi-million dollar babies, this horse would be relegated to a stall in the middle of the backside of the barn. His groom would be the new guy, and his exercise rider would be the kid with not so much talent, but hey, he or she shows up sober every day. He'd probably be one of the last to train late in the morning, long after said trainer has headed over to the racing office.

Do you get where I'm going with this? Instead, Big Brown ends up in the barn of a minor trainer who struggles to overcome adversity, disrespect and his own inner demons. The horse is welcomed here and his price isn't considered so modest and he is actually appreciated. He gets the attention he wouldn't get if he were in the barn of one of the big guns.

"You know, America loves the underdog and I'm no longer the underdog, so if people are going to start taking shots at me, I'm ready for that". - Kid Rock

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I Really Don't Know Clouds, At All

I took these photos of storm clouds gathering. It finally rained Saturday night after over a month of drought. As my good friend Jim said, "it's been dryer than a popcorn fart".

Absence of blog posts means I'm busy. Very good thing at this time in my history. Apologies to subscribers. We did some road trips, clutter clearing and bookkeeping. Also back on track planning upcoming shows. An immensely appreciated blessing after my winter of discontent.

university of floridaLast week I received an invitation to exhibit at the University of Florida's Clinical Equine Studies. Who knew there was space for rotating shows there? In fact, besides the current exhibit, the two buildings I was escorted through had equine artwork everywhere.

the secret
Drove up to Aiken, SC over the weekend to pick up my originals at Equine Divine. Drove down to Stuart, FL yesterday, to pick up artwork from the Elliott Museum exhibit. Lots of miles and time to think, brainstorm and listen to The Secret...again.

michelangelgoOur accountant is strongly urging the formation of a LLC. We spent the entire trip back from Stuart trying to come up with a name for Michael's new business venture. Some faves:
The Art Firm
Meditchy - (Michael's favorite)
Creative Process
Eargone Art
Slideshow Mike - (my favorite)
Becoming punchy from the hours on the road, there were a few more too ridiculous to list. Like this one...

creation of adamPull My Finger Art