Saturday, December 26, 2009


Every horse person knows how important it is to have a great farrier in your life. After moving through a few, I have been fortunate to have found the perfect farrier. Shane Sampson has been doing my three "boys" for about 6 years now. He is one of those "salt of the earth" kind of people who is not only good with horses, but is a joy to have a visit with during the 3 or so hours it takes to the job.

This summer I took some photos of Shane doing his work as I wanted to capture the essence of the work of the farrier - one of the heritage trades that has survived. The most willing participant to capture was Slow Dancer Dan - aka "Simba". He loves his "pedicures" and almost goes into a trance when he gets his feet done. In this classic pose - he usually puts the weight of his head on Shane's back. Shane has mentioned that he gets asked if he has favorite horses to work on and that Simba would be right up there for candidates.

So, once I put the finishing touches on this tomorrow I will find a way to drop this off for him. I hope he is pleasantly surprised and that it serves as a portrait for him and his family for years to come.


Thursday, December 24, 2009


It is Christmas eve day - nothing like a little deadline to serve as inspiration. I spent most of yesterday busy painting for my mother in law Sharon - I have been wanting to get one done for her all year. This summer by brother in law Dave came out with his two little girls - Maddy (she doesn't like when I call her that "it's Madilyn") and Barbra. I took a lot of photos of them when they were here - typical cute girls that are ridiculously photogenic. One day they found Chloe's little hummer and went out for a little joyride. So I decided to paint one of them in the hummer - it shows Maddy in the driver's seat and Barbra barely able to contain herself in the passenger seat. They headed off down the driveway and needed us to turn them around to come back as there is no power steering in these little units.

John bought some wood and we will frame it tomorrow morning to give to her. I think she will like it - not so much because of the painting but because it is of her two grand daughers.

Have a happy holiday,


Monday, December 21, 2009

Inspiration from Haleakala Ranch

Recently we travelled to Maui for some respite from the west coast winter weather. After about a week or so, I found myself missing the horses and hounds so decided to look up horseback riding in the area. This is something I don't usually do as I have found the results to be quite disappointing in other countries. I am someone who has horses that like to go and when we ride we usually head out for hours of miles at various speeds. On rides, horses are often numb to the rider and go head to tail despite your intentions. In other places, the horses are 13 ft high and bone thin and I just am not inclined to ride much. But, we travelled on every highway in Maui and I was pleasantly surprised by the horses I saw in the fields - healthy quarterhorse types, on grass and in a variety of colors.

After searching a bit, I decided to sign up with Pony Express Tours to do the Haleakala Crater ride. We were going to ride from the top of the crater downhill for a few hours, have lunch and then climb back out. Sounded good - a whole day in the saddle. Unfortunately it didn't run as it had too few folks - but I was offered a private ride with guide Melissa Sowers at the Haleakala ranch instead.

As soon as I arrived I saw Melissa riding up to the office ponying three horses. My eyes went immediately to the dog with her - an Australian cattle dog - Spur, who had decided to follow her for the morning. Made me homesick for my hounds (also a bunch of hill billy hounds ACD's). Melissa is a cheery and charming guide - was more like a morning ride with a girlfriend than someone I didn't know. She filled me in on all sorts of details about the ranch, cattle farming on Maui, the grasses, trees and fence posts. We were out for a couple of hours riding at 4000 ft elevation. The sun was shining down on us which gave a super view of the island. Light was perfect for photography - wish I would have taken more. I was surprised at how rough the footing was - but my horse Rocky was sure footed.

The jaunt was a great one - got some good pics - think I will paint the one of Melissa looking out a the horizon.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Connecting with other equine artists

I have done a lot of searching on line for other equine artist groups so that I can develop relationships in the art world. The opportunities to share ideas and inspiration is something that would help me grow as an artist.

In looking, I must admit that I am a bit disappointed at what I have found to date. I was excited to find the Equine Art Guild and thought it would be perfect, except I found out that they are a bit exclusive - the first ones to join have taken up all the spots and they are not accepting new members. It really is too bad it is exclusive as they also have a blog that would be worth connecting to.

When I was away on vacation last week, I picked up a copy of the Art Calendar Magazine - a business magazine for visual artists. If you have never seen a copy - they are jammed full of great ideas that can assist in getting your art out into the world. In there, they mentioned an online site that allows you to search for artists and form new communities - Art Scuttlebutt . So, I logged in, created a profile and did a bit of searching for other equine artists. I didn't find a lot, but am hoping they will locate the site and start to connect there. I have started a group of equestrian artists - so if you are looking to share ideas, insights, inspiration and professional development opportunities with other equine artists - join the group. Unlike the other sites I have mentioned, there is no limit to the number who can join the group either.

Hope to see you log in soon.

Friday, December 4, 2009


When I was young I would get a picture of something in my minds eye and I was compelled to sketch until it came out. That feeling faded in regularity over the years, but it has been coming back more often now that I am allowing myself more creative time.

After creating "liberty" last week, I had an image come to mind of my horse Simba that I wanted to get out. Simba is a left brain introvert who is one of the most courageous horses I have ever met. He is very handsome and knows it - muscles, dun, prominent dorsal stripe, long mane with natural highlights. If he was a person he would be Brad Pitt. He was also babied when he was young and seems to have no fear of humans or other critters.

A few years ago John and I took the boys (Magnum and Simba) throughout BC and Alberta with the horse trailer and when we were camped in Wells Gray Park we had a bear encounter. I have never seen a better example of fight and flight in one moment. Magnum flew to the other side of the corral and Simba when right up to the fence with "emphasis" and told the bear in no uncertain terms to "get lost". Over the years we have seen this happen to others that have entered his domain - and his body language is always the same - very distinct. He arches his neck, raises his front legs (which are usually in forward motion) gives a "look" and flags his ears back. This image of his courage was just edging to get out of me so I painted it.

I am not sure if it is cliche for an artist to love their own work? Like comedians who are not supposed to laugh at their own jokes? Oh well, doesn't matter - I love it and will have a hard time parting with it. My husband says if there is one word that he would use to describe it (it is 30 x 40 so very large) it would be "power". See what you think.

Off to Hawaii for a couple of weeks so the artist in me will have to wait. I'll have the camera with me though so may get some shots to post when I return.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

At liberty

Got the painting feeling tonight. Some of the photos I took this weekend inspired me. I find that it is much easier to paint now that I take my own source photos. I used to search for hours to try and find something that inspired me - but it is hard to find people who see the world the way you do.

I have a ritual when I paint. I turn on a mix of music on the computer, start an incense stick, grab a glass of Sangria and ask for creative energy to come through me. It's usually about 6 or 7 at night - and before you know it - four or five hours go by and I have made good headway. Some days are better than others - you know the feeling.

So - I took a photo of Puck, my friend Justine's horse at liberty with Deb the other day. He is a left brain introvert - likes treats and play. His spirit just came through this one photo - which wasn't that great of a photo actually, but the movement was captured enough for me to paint the impression.

At this point I will leave it for the night and get my best critic John (my honey) to take a look at it in the am. He always says the same thing - what every artist needs to hear - "it's great honey - your best yet"... but if I ask about specific sections he will give me an objective view. So, here they are in order and we'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekend at Twincreeks

We had a let up in the rain thankfully, and I had the opportunity to head down to Twincreeks in Duncan - one of my favourite getaways. I went with a girlfriend Justine Saunders and we brought our boys - Nino and Puck. Yesterday we explored the trails off the Trans Canada Trail - weather was brisk but loping helped take the mind off the cold. There is nothing like getting out with some good horse friends to enjoy the outdoors on our four leggeds.

This morning Deb did a natural horsemanship clinic with Justine and her horse Puck. Puck was super quick and took on immediately. It was a great opportunity to shoot some candids of the horses as the sky was a bit overcast.

I do this sort of trip regularly, it has a good way of grounding you. If you have a bed bale and breakfast nearby, check it out, take a girlfriend or two and hit the trails, go out for a nice dinner, enjoy a bottle of wine - solve the worlds problems and head back home ready for another week. At Deb's you get the added bonus of learning something with your horse. Check out Deb's place if you are on Vancouver Island - it is a must.

Check out some great ones of the horse eyes - love the one of Topper, Deb's horse.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Putting myself out there...

Well, I have never been one to adopt things early - so here I am, born into the world of blogging. I have had numerous friends encourage me to do this and after checking out some pretty neat ones, and finally getting my head around what a blog is - here I am.

This has been a big week for me - after years of dreaming about it, I have finally taken some steps to putting myself out there with respect to my creativity. With a lot of courage, I finally built myself a website, built a brochure and even paid for a bit of advertising. I have no fantasies about quitting my day job (I work at Vancouver Island University), but I do want to do more of what makes my heart sing - that is painting and photography.

In looking around at others blogs and websites, I am inspired and I hope that by putting myself out there a bit, I can connect with people who share some of my interests. I know that by choosing a life of art, we also choose to continually learn - and I have much to learn.

So for all you artists and photographers that love horses and other farm critters, I hope you will connect and contribute. I will update with what I am learning from my shoots and show paintings in process. I think that will help keep me productive.

That is it for the first blog entry... wasn't so hard now was it!?