Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Remaining Drawings

My Kickstarter project "Renderings of Historic Saratoga Race Course" for the 150th Anniversary is nearing completion. Four of the eight original drawings are available. They're 11"x14" and created with pen and ink followed with a wash of watercolor on paper. They can be purchased framed or unframed.

Sanford Stud Farm
The history of this farm and Saratoga Race Course are closely woven together. Located just north of Amsterdam, New York, three generations of the Sanford family bred and raced some of the country's best horses beginning in the 1870's. On the Oklahoma side of the barn area is a section named “Sanford Court” in honor of the farm. The Sanford Stakes is still run today (the only loss for the great Man O' War by a horse aptly named Upset). I visited the few remaining buildings and took this reference photo of what were once the mare and foal barns, adding my own horses and grooms in period dress from my imagination. It's said that the horses were walked from the farm to the race track...about twenty-six miles...and people would line the streets to watch them go by.

The Paddock
Circa 1910's, notice the paddock is comprised of gentlemen only, all wearing straw-type hats (very in-style) as they observe the horses entering for saddling. African-American grooms walk their charges through thick grass with no gravel paths such as those that exist today. The trees in front of the stalls are mostly gone now, and the few that remain are fairly large. The red and white striped awnings were added much later.
                                                              Harrowing the Track
Before it was mechanized with tractors, the harrows that comb the surface of the track between races were pulled by draft horses. The starting gate was also moved around the track with teams of horses. Many years ago when I was a young teenager, my dad would take me to Narragansett Park in Rhode Island and I remember being awe-struck by the massive size of these reliable horses. Take note of the trees in the infield. Most are gone now but there are a few left that have grown huge and momentarily block out the field of horses from the cameras as they race down the backstretch.  

The Loose Horse 
This is my take on a drawing that appeared in the Daily Graphic newspaper in 1877. Long before photography became a staple tool in news reporting, illustrators had to quickly sketch out the day's events. Note how all the horses are all in the same extended stride and the two horses with riders behind the loose horse were drawn much smaller, a means of creating spacial perspective. I think these artists did a great job back then, drawing quickly and effectively to capture the essence of a story. 

If you are interested in acquiring any of these, please email me:

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Truths and Others Vagaries

I subscribe to Seth Godin's blog. Seth just published an impressive 5000th blog post. He's also written twelve marketing best-sellers in a thoughtful, philosophical voice that I personally resonate with, especially when he intentionally includes us arty types who tend to be a bit remiss regarding our business savvy (or woeful lack of). Here's a link if you'd like to subscribe: Seth's Blog.

I hope I don't get into trouble but I'm re-posting a particularly apropos piece from a few days ago on Seth's blog:

"The tried and true is beyond reproach. It's been tried, and of course, it's true. True because it worked.
In times of change, though, most of the tried is in fact, false. False because what used to work, doesn't, at least not any longer.
Sure, it might be what you've always done. But that doesn't make it true, or right, or best. It just means that you already tried it.
The nature of revolutions is that they destroy the perfect and enable the impossible. Seeking out the tried and true is the wrong direction for crazy times." - Seth Godin, June 2, 2013

I am not just an artist. I'm not just a painter struggling to recoup from a disastrous economy that harshly impacted all of the arts and then some. I'm in the art business and I've made it one of my priorities to educate my clients and potential clients about what that means.

As a business person, I've become a bit aggressive. Okay, very aggressive. I have something to sell that I believe is a desirable, quality product and I'm not shy about getting the word out. Art is a tough sell during good times, never mind the "crazy times." Some admire my determination and others are repelled by it. Most fall somewhere in between.

No, this is not a hobby. Yes, I deserve to get paid well for my time, my ability and my now vast experience. It's been said that to create art is a gift from the heavens. No, it isn't. It's more like a lifetime of perseverance and never-ending study and a burning desire to achieve excellence. The pro shows up in the studio every day and gets to work. There's no time to wait for heavenly inspiration to strike.

So, if I've come on like a used car salesman and you've been offended, I'm no longer offering apologies. My tried and true is also false, spurring a search for new truths.

Hey you! There's no better time to buy a painting!