Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Don't you just love Serendipity?  It's a delightful feeling when something just lands in you lap, so to speak.  In a way, that's how I found my horse, all those years ago.  I had saved "X" amount of dollars and that was all I could spend.  I wanted a Morgan, a middle aged gelding so I'd have a quiet horse, and I needed him to be patient and kind.  Everyone I called (who raised Morgans) laughed and told me I'd never get what I wanted with what I had to spend.  Then one day, I decided to poke through the want ads in the paper - something I never do.  And there he was, a Morgan gelding, quiet, 14 years old, well trained English and Western, and his asking price was exactly, to the dollar, what I had saved in my Horse Fund.  If that wasn't Serendipity, I don't know what was.  My Morgan and I were together for 19 years.

It is Serendipity at work as well, any time I am at a show somewhere, possibly delivering a painting, and my client likes my work so much, they promptly take it all over the place, urging people they know to go and and get a horse/dog portrait done.  And  more commission roll in!  I love when that happens! :)   
English Mastiff                 Colored Pencil

And this past weekend, Serendipity struck again.  This time, it was the kindness of a neighbor, taking in an abandoned  cat.  A few days later, yes, you're right, 4 kittens arrived.   We had been thinking about getting a young companion for our youngest Sheltie.  He needs someone with the energy of youth to play with, but the 'just right' dog wasn't appearing.  Our neighbor should be in sales.  We had no intention of getting a second cat at this time.  But somehow, we ended up with a little kitten whom we call Jasmine.  Our  young Sheltie is entranced with her, and when she is a bit bigger, she will be a fine, indoor playmate for him.  She comes from a home that has other cats, a couple of dogs, and has been raised so far (and will continue to be) an indoor cat, so she is everything we were looking for, except that she is a cat.  But that's minor detail. 

 Breeze will get his  running - in - the - garden companion all in good time.  I wouldn't be surprised if it happens when we are least expecting it.  Serendipity at work again!             


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's In the Blood

August late afternoons, sitting on the shady back porch enjoying the late season flowers, the bird song, and the velvety air, is a prime time for reflection.  One recent afternoon, I began reflecting on painting, as in, 'why in the name of heaven am I following such a crazy, unstable career path??  My conclusion is that it is in the blood.  My Grandfather was apparently  a talented artist who steered his career into that of a skilled craftsman  working with wood.  My cousin on the other side of  the family was a very successful Commercial Artist who had his own Commercial Studio and employed several  artists.  And so to me.
My particular field is Domestic Animal Art - a bit of a hard sell, but I'm doing OK with that.  I LOVE dogs, cats, and horses - they are in my heart and they are what delights me.  My mediums of choice are graphite and my beloved watercolors.    I've tried acrylics (still use them a bit) oils and pastels, (the dust and odors were too hard on my lungs) and colored pencils, which I really enjoyed, but my hands finally said 'Enough!'.  But all the while, I kept coming back to watercolor.  I love the light, airy brightness and lively darks you can achieve in this medium.  I love the misty quality you can get, if that is your aim.  I love the lack of odor and the quick clean up, and the paint that dries and waits politely in the tray until you're ready to paint again, and with a little bit of water, they are ready to go too.
At this stage, after trying all sorts of mediums, I prefer to do my experimenting within the medium itself.  One of my favorite artists, Canadian Trisha Romance, paints with a very limited palette, mixing all the colors she needs from the three primaries plus sepia.  I had to give it a try, and this little rough sketch was the result.

Obviously, the drawing was minimal, it was the color that I was after, and I was quite surprised at what I was able to accomplish with only  red, yellow, blue, and a touch of sepia.  But that was just to see if I could do it.  I am in love with color, and have nearly the whole range of Winsor Newton pigments.

I use a range of brushes too.  Not the multiple jars of brushes you see in a television show featuring an artist, which always makes me giggle.   No one needs THAT many brushes!  Well, OK, I have 4 jars.  One is filled with brushes that my mentor left to me, and as they are oil brushes, I keep them for remembrance and luck, and only use a few of them for acylics.  I have a jar of acrylic brushes, a jar of old, (some worn out, some very cheap) watercolor brushes, and then I have my treasured, working watercolor brushes.

I have the very tiniest sizes for the details and the larger brushes for the washes.  The larger Winsor Newton brushes are capable of doing some very small detail, but it is easier and faster using the tiny brushes.  But the smaller brushes are totally incapable of holding enough water or paint to do a decent wash. These brushes are like extensions of my fingers  :0.  I don't let anyone else use them.
And now, the lure of my paint table calls, and I'd better get to work. I get SO FUSSY if I can't work.  Just ask my cat and the dogs - oh, and my husband, lovely, patient man that he is. :0

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Because I'm an artist, I work hard at seeing the wonders of the world around me, sometimes things that most "normal" (ha,ha!) people don't notice.  Yes, those eyes are mine, albeit, in a photo taken a very long time ago.  That was all there was to the photo - just the eyes.  I've always rather liked it, because being an artist, I'm an observer.  The world comes to me through my eyes.  And I've learned that not everyone sees things the same way.
I used to attempt to place my art in shows put on by NATURE people, and was always turned away, not because the art didn't hold up to that of the other artists, but  because my subjects were horses, dogs, and cats.  They said that my subjects were not part of the natural world.  It didn't matter that I had backgrounds of fields and forest, lake and stream. I was not considered a Nature artist because I didn't have a wild animal in the painting, and because I wasn't a Naturalist -I never went out on Field Trips to swamps or the deep woods.  OK, I admit it, hiking through the bush, camping out, is just not me - my idea of roughing it is unchilled champagne!  I never wanted to study a dead animal if I came across one - I wanted to give it a respectful burial.  But that doesn't mean that I don't see and cherish the natural world.
 I discovered  nature from the back of a horse.  I'd never have been in  the woods, the open fields, and even some watery areas if not for my horse.  I'd never have traveled through the magic of a Trillium Wood in Spring and heard the spring creatures singing their joy in the season, or seen the sea of Trilliums waving around us, or experienced the magical green-lit  hush of the deep forest.

I'd never have ridden beside late autumn corn fields with Canada Geese coming in to land for the night, or had the fun of a gorgeous fox inviting me to play follow the leader - FOX of course, led the game and vanished in a heartbeat when he grew tired of it.  I learned to look at and appreciate the woods and pastures, but I did it in my own way, and expressed my love of these things  in Equine Art.
The garden here at home opened my eyes to nature as well.  So many bugs, bees, birds and little critters (I'm talking mostly about little things with fur!) to enjoy and watch.  The dogs get me out in the garden every day, even if there is no garden work to be done, and they often point out something of interest.  If I didn't watch what my curious dogs were doing, I may never have seen this handsome little guy.
So I  have just never understood why a love and appreciation of the Natural World is, in some circles, considered invalid simply because it's seen from the back of a  horse or  while larking about with a dog . They were the instrument to get me out there to discover and enjoy all the wonders.
This isn't a rant about the Wild Life Art people - I love the paintings in their shows, and they are good people trying to awaken us to the wonderful world around us.  So I enjoy that type of  show, real time or on line, and then go back to my own path,  recording in my paintings, the world the way I see it, knowing they will be enjoyed by folks who appreciate nature the same, gentler way I do.
Keep looking around you  . ..  you never know what you'll see!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August in the Country

I love living in the country all year round, but August can be particularly beautiful to me.  By August, Summer has usually lost the searing heat of July, and although it can be too humid for my comfort, as long as I can get inside in some nice arctic AC, I'm happy.
I love the golden fields of grain and hay.  They speak to me of a season of plenty in the cold months ahead - food for the beasts, food for us.  The rich golden hues fill me with peace and contentment, just to look at them.

Every once in a while, if I'm very lucky, I come across a scene that defines a peaceful country afternoon for me.  I see cows relaxing by a pond, wandering in to get a drink and to cool off.  It's a timeless image - go have a look at some Constable paintings and you'll see that he must have felt the same way.                                                   OK, that does it.  I'm going to have to start a little landscape of the August fields I love.                                                                            
Cheers,                                                                                             Heather