Monday, May 24, 2010

CTR season started

Long weekend, rode 30 miles, spent time with horse people and my new rig. What could be better. This weekend kicked off the 2010 BC Competitive Trail Riding season with a ride at John and Karen Eigler's place in Courtenay - the Sasquatch Scurry. They have a beautiful place just north of town with access to unbelievable trails and a place that overlooks the island mountain range.

Competitive Trail Riding is a great sport for those who like "miles of smiles", good people, camping with their horses and learning about fitness and conditioning. I have been doing it now since 2004 with my best friend and two horses. Essentially, for those who aren't familiar with the sport, it is a long distance riding sport that challenges the horse and rider over a cross country course in a set time period (not a race). As one moves up in the levels, mileage and speed increase - but horses are all vetted three times - before, during and after exercise. For those that haven't tried it - I always sell it by saying "For $50-60 entry fee - I get a complete vet check on my horse three times, I ride new trails that are marked by someone else, camp overnight, have a potluck, get prizes and visit with great horse folks" THAT - is value for your entry fee! For more info on the sport check out Next ride is one that I am organizing in Nanaimo - the Giddy Up Gogo Pleasure ride - education, riding and socializing with folks who love horses and trails.

I wasn't able to get any action shots as I was on the horse most of the time, but I did get a few around camp that are worth sharing. Enjoy...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just horsin around - done and dusty!

Well, finished up my first display at the Just horsin around event in Nanaimo this weekend. It took a lot out of me - all the planning, set up, and sticking around for two full days at the event. But, I guess that is an important part of getting out there. My goal was just to raise awareness in the local market that I am here, I do commissions and photo shoots and give them a sample of my work. I think I achieved that and received numerous compliments on my work - which was nice. One never knows if their friends and family are just being nice or if others actually think highly of your work.

The photos show a few images of my booth. To my surprise on Friday night, I was directed to the Agri plex in a horse arena! The floor was hog fuel and the ambiance well... not exactly what I was expecting. The venue held a lot of other vender's but by the end of each night my nose was plugged with dust and I will have to wipe and clean off everything as it is layered in dust. That part was not fun!

I looked online for example displays for art that would be easy to transport, set up and yet strong enough to hold framed work. After finding nothing suitable, I designed a tri-fold display out of recycled doors. John attached the hinges so that it works like an accordion and is solid, yet flexible to maneuver into different shapes. It worked great and lots of folks loved the idea - so take it if you are looking for something similar.

The art cards worked great - people wanted something to look at and take away. I sold about 75 or so of those - so highly recommend that avenue. Lots of people said that they find it difficult to find cards with horses on them - so there is another piece of feedback. Had about three people talk about commissions with me and all my business cards are gone - people seem to like cards over brochures... another interesting point.

I decided to bring my easel and paints and paint when things were slow. Glad I did as things were slow quite often. It also gave me a chance to get away from things and people really enjoyed coming to watch. A few even signed up for classes and workshops.

So, glad it is done. Took a lot of energy but was also a good milestone for me as an artist. I was happy to "come out of the closet" a bit and the feedback will help me grow as an artist as well. I will see what comes out of it for work and in the meantime, will keep painting in time for the opening of my own place next fall.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Basking beauty

It is spring and I am starting to see little foals in the fields around the area. Is there anything cuter? Their long gangly legs, their out of proportion knee caps foreheads and ears and their compact little bodies are just so heavenly made.

We used to have mares and a stallion on our farm and I miss having the little ones to visit with in the field. My mare Alza Kharin (Arabian) used to have the most beautiful foals. She was a dark bay, almost black and Silver Request (Arab stallion) was a strawberry roan. Their combo produced everything from blue roans to chestnuts - like this little foal I painted last night. Royale Rain was her name... I came home from school and my dad told me I better go out and check Kharin (which as his code for something was waiting for me). It was a spring day with sun and a hint of a light shower on the horizon. When I approached Kharin, I remember her stepping back to show me her little prize. Just then, it started to sprinkle - one of those lovely prairie showers and the filly responded to the drops by shaking her head and hiding it under Kharin's belly. I named her Royale Rain.

Kharin was the first foal I fell in love with. We used to live in Brooks and on the way to the store, we used to pass by a little farm with a dark mare. I would ask to join my mom every time I knew she was going past it, and when we got near - I would pin my face to the window to watch her. One spring, I was so surprised to see a little dark filly beside the mare. I fell in love instantly. Of course, my efforts to get my mom to drive past increased exponentially after that.

My parents were good at teaching us kids the value of a dollar and that if we wanted something, we had to work for it. So, as a family, we used to head out to pick bottles on the side of the roads on weekends. The money was for whatever we wanted it for - mine was targeted for a horse - and one in particular. I am not sure how long it was going to take me to get that much money, but I was determined.

One day, my mom and dad told me that they had bought me a horse. I was super excited at the prospect and so we jumped into a vehicle to go and see it. We went a route that I was not familiar with, down back roads, up side roads etc. Then we came out to a little farm and walked across the farm yard to the paddock. Then all of a sudden, I realized where I was - there in the field was the little filly - Alza Kharin. Mom and dad had bought her for me and drove to the farm in a way that I didn't recognize so they could surprise me. It was the start of a magical relationship.

I like to live life with no regrets but there is one regret that I will have for the rest of my life and that is selling Kharin. After I started University, mom and dad sold the farm and kept her and Royale for me for awhile. When I knew I was moving out to the island for work, I didn't see how I could keep her - so I decided to sell her. Back in those days, before the web, auctions and private sales were the norm. So, she sold to a lovely lady to a lovely lady Vicki from Lacombe and Royale when to a guest ranch near Sundre. I think of her often and have tried to find her more than once, but recognize that she is now very likely in horse heaven. She, more than any other horse - filled me with the wonder for the horse and I am forever grateful to my parents for surprising me with her when I was just a girl.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Herd boss

Well, nothing like a little pressure to get me performing. I spent the night painting, which felt great. Haven't been at the canvas for awhile and just like running, once you start - you wonder why you don't do it everyday (ha ha - running!).

There is something super majestic about a stallion with his mares. They are full of primal instincts that our gelded partners just don't possess (probably good on most days). The words strength, majesty, and protection come to mind for me whenever I have watched a stallion with his herd.

So, tonight - I tried to capture that on canvas (16 x 20) and painted "Herd Boss". I don't typically use blues or purples but the tones have to match the color of the horse - so I tried something different. My husband commented immediately 'those aren't your typical colors - I like them!" (which makes me wonder about my other paintings - typical inferiority complex of an artist...). Actually, I liked it too - lightened things up and had the black jump out more.

So, freshly released and I will polish tomorrow if needed. I always take lots of photos as the camera seems to catch things that my eye doesn't. Then I sleep on it and see it with fresh eyes in the am. I know I'll get a good sleep.

Enjoy - and if you like it - it is for sale and display at next weeks "Just horsin around" event in Nanaimo!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back in business

I knew it would happen - a creative hiatus due to work. But, things are easing up and I can see the light -so the creative juices that have been on hold are coming back fast and furious!

And none too soon. I booked a booth at the "Just Horsin' Around" event in Nanaimo May 15-16th in Beban Park. It will be my first trade show for the new art business, so am excited to share my work, chat with other horse folks and hopefully get the word out there that I am keen to take on commission work and photography sessions this year. Timing couldn't be better.

In preparation for the event, I have been assembling the design for my booth - 12 by 12 box that needs some thought put into it. I have John building me a display out of three old wooden doors (recycled) so I can just attach them together and then hang the paintings off both sides so there is some display space for them.

Artwork is not the type of thing that people necessarily go to this type of show to purchase, so I don't have any illusions that I will liquidate all my inventory. But I do want them to learn more about my services so I have brochures, information packages for those that are serious - and I am offering a $25 discount if people book on the weekend. I also have a raffle for a free photo shoot to gain more information on the market. And, I have put together some "photo cards" so that people can leave with something small if they are inclined to buy. Will do stand alone cards, plus bundles of 5 or little boxes (see photo) of 12 as well. I am investigating getting art cards done in Victoria at Art Ink Print as well, so will have those later for when I open the gallery/studio.

Problem for me is that a lot of my work is unframed. I find for display of artwork, framing makes such a big difference. So I went to Michael's and lucky for me - they have all their open frames on 50% off so I scooped up a variety of sizes for everything from 11x14 to 18x24 so I can display in frames, but give people the option to buy with or without.

So, all this work has made me super excited about the event. If you read this and are coming - look me up to chat.