Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Two Old Ladies and a Blacksmith

My season of being a hermit never really was. The winter weather wasn't either, and that's why. However, I never feel I'm being as productive as I think I should be.

Our recent trip to Florida was warm and lovely. Road trips. Many hate them but I relish the boredom of miles and miles of tedious city and landscape passing by. My mind calms, the incessant chatter quiets, clearing the way for constructive thought. I can say that some of my best inspiration is achieved while the bland scenery blurs.

Here's my first painting since reentry:

Two Old Ladies and a Blacksmith
I'm always looking through the hundreds, if not thousands, of stable area photos I shoot every year. Searching for inspiration, I always pass over this particular image of complicated dappled light and intricate, overlapping figures. Plus, there was a big post and railing right through the middle of it blocking out the front of the horse. Maybe it was all the vitamin D absorbed in Florida that sharpened my memory of what a great story it portrayed.

Last summer as I was plein air painting by Elmer's Gap, a very old lady rode by on a pony leading a racehorse. Neither track at Saratoga allow ponying so I could only guess that this lady took her horses across the street, circled the main track over to the historic small oval that encircles Clare Court. It's a very good distance from where I was set up. I smiled as I observed her in my admiration, not only still riding but ponying at her advanced age. But what I was really thinking was: this scenario could be me if I hadn't made the shift from race tracker to full-time artist.

Fast forward a month or so, the main meet has concluded but there's still plenty of horses stabled at Oklahoma. Camera in hand, I'm walking around searching for inspiration and - there she is! Her horse, a mare, was getting shod and this old lady was doing her best to hold the mare AND keep an eye on the blacksmith. Her arm was stretched out clutching the end of the shank and in the other hand she swung a rub rag to and fro to keep the flies at bay. Then the mare turned her head to also observe the blacksmith and I fired off about six shots to capture the moment. Priceless. Rare. But affectionately familiar.

Michael and I both chuckled over this as we always agreed that the hardest thing on the track is to work for someone with only one horse. I respect the tolerance and patience of this blacksmith. And I hope to see this lady back at the track next year. I will introduce myself, ask her how the mare is doing and inform her that I was also once a member of the sisterhood of tough, tenacious and determined race track ladies.

Seasoned girl power,

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