Monday, March 23, 2015

Stretch Drive!

"Turn For Home," 24 x 30 oil on canvas, framed.
I'm not sure if I written a blog post on the Equis Art Gallery Relocation Campaign or not - the last few months have flown by, despite February seeming to draw on with endless cold temperatures! It's been a year and change since Juliet started the gallery, and one of my favourite paintings sold through the gallery in those early months. Now, the gallery has grown to host an amazing collection of contemporary equine artwork, and Juliet is seeking to move to a larger, storefront space.

You can read about Juliet's story on the campaign page, and take a virtual tour with her through the present gallery space.  You might even catch a glimpse of some of my work.  Any token donation to the venture is appreciated, not only by Juliet but by those of us who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be part of it.

I've donated my painting, "Turn For Home" to the project, and it's being auctioned on Facebook. You'll find information there on the reserve bid – essentially, this is an opportunity to collect a significant painting at phenomenal savings, and at the same time, pay it forward to the equine art world. If the painting doesn't sell at the auction, it will return to its regular, retail price.  There are many other pieces that have been donated available as well – some really beautiful work which really should be snapped up!  I only wish I had some extra money right now!

As things come down the stretch (of course I have to say that, right?) on the campaign, I'm going to throw an added incentive out there.  I will give you the collector print of your choice (pretty much any image I've painted is available as a collector print)....for any donation over $20.00USD.  Just be sure to mention to Juliet that you are taking advantage of this, and then contact me to provide shipping information for your print.

Thanks for reading – it means a lot to all of us in the gallery!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Loose Ends

Zippy, Lounging ~ 5 x 7 oil on panel.

I've been spending a lot of time glaring at my easel of late - knowing there is work to be done, but feeling as if I'm just going to make a mess of anything I touch...kind of a reverse-Midas thing, where everything turns to muck.  The oil pastel commission I've been working on is in a good place (by which I mean more than not in my studio, haha), and just getting a rest from my eyes before I put the final touches on it, so I felt I needed to at least be making an attempt with the paints.

My solution has been to finish up some studies that were abandoned somewhere along the road. Some of them were just done during one of my daily painting projects, so they got a day's work but I always wanted to go back to them.  One I actually started from scratch (how brave, haha).  One just involved cutting down and stretching over new stretcher bars.  All I figured I could play with, and if I turned them to muck, nothing much would be lost except a bit more of my self-esteem!  ;-)

At the top is Zippy as a baby - he still has that look of owning the world!  Another study from the same time frame has found a new home, with artist friend Elizabeth McCrindle – it's always an extra honour when another artist likes my work enough to want it!  I have one of Elizabeth's paintings hanging on my studio wall. You can see the paintings in a blog post she wrote when she received them - thanks again, Elizabeth!
Einstein ~ 10 x 8 oil on canvas.
Milwaukee Brew ~ 8 x 10 oil on canvas.

Two of the paintings I was playing with a palette I haven't used much, favoured by artist Anders Zorn.  It's a limited palette of ivory black, cad red, yellow ochre and titanium white.  Admittedly I didn't push it much, but it was interesting just the same.  Both are studies of Thoroughbred stallions – Einstein (BRZ), sire of Sheldon, and Milwaukee Brew.

The last one is the restretch - I did this one as part of my daily painting projects, from a photo taken at Saratoga.  Now, I need to get these up on my website, in hopes that they, too, will find new homes!
Ready ~ 10 x 8 oil on linen.
 Oh, wait - one more!  This is Victor, a little study I started last year and finished up while I still had the Zorn palette open.  Catching a breeze on a warm spring day - which I hope we will see again, eventually!
Victor, Catching a Breeze  ~ 6 x 4 oil on canvas.

Just a PS - it's interesting to note the difference between my usual limited palette, which was used on the racehorse painting, compared with the stallion and Victor studies.  Which do you like better? I'm a time and place kind of person - I have to shake things up now and again, and studies are a great way to try out new things.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Expectation

"Toss," 24 x 24 oil on canvas...one where I did stop at the underpainting!
Friend and artist extraordinaire, Jen Trottier, just posted a work in progress on Facebook (check out her Instagram account to see other WIPs).  It's very cool, but it's one of the comments (by another friend, photographer Juliet Harrison!) that inspired this post.  Basically, Juliet said she liked the painting as is. Had to "like" that comment, because I don't know how many times I've had a work in progress in the underpainting stage, and thought, "Wow, I really like it right there, I wish I could just stop now, and call it done."

So...why don't I?  I think as artists, at least as somewhat established artists, we have this thing hanging over our heads called "expectation."  We think if we don't do things a certain way – in our usual style, which our followers and collectors have come to expect – we'll lose our audience.  No one wants to disappoint the people who have come to appreciate our work, right?  So we push on, put out more of the same to get the positive comments.  Every now I'll share something different, and that internet silence, as I like to call it, is a killer.  I know I'm not the only artist who has contemplated coming up with an alter ego and letting that persona do whatever that one wants...marketing oneself as a completely different artist, and not telling anyone.  I know of artists who have gone ahead and done just that.  I've given it serious thought!

I liked this one at this stage...but "finished" it. 
Expectation can be a real aggravation. I can run another parallel to riding with it.  I had the most brilliant lesson on Leo the week before last - it's the one where we ended up cantering that X, in the video I posted.  All riders know that feeling you get with an awesome ride.  I couldn't wait to ride him again the next day! And guess what?  He was a complete idiot.  Completely distracted, nothing was coming together.  Part way through the ride, I gave myself the proverbial smack upside the head and realized I'd gone into that ride with a certain expectation, and I was really disappointed as a result.  It was a good reminder that in the grand scheme of things, Leo is doing great, but he's still very green.  He's still going to have those days, and I just have to use those days to ride the horse I have at the moment, and help us both learn and improve.  Since then, with both Leo and Gracie, I've tried to go into my rides without having a real agenda.  And you know what?  I think all three of us are much happier for it.  ;-)

So, can I apply the same to my art?  It's much harder for me to start a painting without some sort of expectation as to where I want it to end up.  Can I give myself permission to decide to stop and sign it, if I have one of those "I like it just the way it is now" moments?  Maybe.  I'll work on it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Special Ponies-Go-Back-To-Work Portrait Offer!

"Fire Filly,"  8 x 10 oil sketch on canvas...of Gracie!

It's that time of year for me - the time when the layups go back to work at the training centre or racetrack, and my income goes with them!  ;-)  I've been fortunate to be able to keep Gracie and Leo both in work for the last three months, but had to give notice for one of them on February 1st - I just can't afford to continue to pay board on both.  The likely candidate to come home is Gracie, as Leo has considerable momentum in his favour.  I hate to do it, but that's the way it is.

I know it probably seems rather indulgent to be boarding and riding two horses, but I've discovered, having that diversion has gone a long way to keeping me sane this winter.  Now, I know no one out there probably cares one way or another about whether I'm sane or not, but it occurred to me, some people might be interested if I dangled a portrait offer.  Some people who haven't been able to afford my regularly-priced portraits might be able to take advantage, and likewise, I might be able to afford to keep Gracie in work, and build on the progress we've made this winter...when I'd been having my doubts about both of our futures!

Lexi - 10 x 8 oil sketch on linen.
Here's the deal.  I'll accept two to three 8 x 10 oil commissions, to be done in what I call my "sketch" style, which just means I'm not going through the many-layered process involved in my "traditional" style portraits. Sketch portraits have the same longevity, and are produced with the same high quality materials, so there's no compromise in that area. 

The subject must be a horse, and you must provide photos, which I must approve.  If you haven't taken the photos yourself, I need to see written permission from the photographer, that allows me to use the photo to create your portrait.

The sketch will be a head study - so head and neck.

Price is $300 (regular price is $500), which will include shipping (worldwide), and payment must be made in full upon approval of your photos.

Deadline to take advantage of the offer is February 14, 2015, which is, conincidentally, Gracie's birthday.  If I don't have anyone booked at that point, I'll accept that bringing her home is what's meant to be.

Interested?  Questions?  Email me at lindashantz **at** gmail.com and I'll help you out.

PS - If you don't have a horse, or you want some other size, or more than a head study...send me an email, and we can talk about it. ;-)

"Peaker" - 8 x 8 oil sketch on board.




Monday, February 09, 2015

You've Come A Long Way, Baby....

They all look so sweet when they're sleeping!  5 x 7 oil on panel, sold.

Maybe it all started the day he was conceived - I took Twine up to be bred to Strut the Stage (standing at Colebrook at the time), baby Gracie at her side.  They didn't heed my warnings that she could be tough, not taking proper precautions, and she double-barreled him in the chest.  Poor Strut! I'm sure that did nothing for his self-esteem!  Anyway...about 338 days later, she had a cute little bay baby boy.  This colt had the slickest coat I've ever seen on a foal - clearly he thought he was landing in Florida, not Southwestern Ontario. He made me drag the vet out to tube him his first meal, because he couldn't figure out how to nurse in an acceptable time frame. And so began our series of adventures, which included a black eye for me.  Well, at least he didn't break my nose, like Hugo!

Lean, mean...well he wasn't mean...and fell a little short of being a racing machine! At Woodbine in 2013.

Close...but not quite (he's the one on the outside).

At the track, Leo started off showing promise...though he turned in to a wildman as a three-year-old.  More exploits were added to his list of accomplishments, like running off with his trainer, who gallops her own (the clockers even got a time on him!  No question he was fast!), escaping from his stall and running off down the shedrow, and antics behind the gate on race day which included dropping his rider and taking off, through the barrier and onto the harness racing track.  His best effort was a second place finish where he just missed winning, but then he hurt himself, and was retired.  And for some crazy reason, I said I'd take him.

That was a year and a half ago.  This is Leo today:



First day jumping from a canter!  Just goes to show you - never say never!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Now What?

"Neddy," 7 x 5 oil -first signed painting of 2015!
So, today was a typical post– "I Will Conquer The World!  I Will Make Changes!" kind of day.  First off, it was COLD out.  Not as cold as it has been, but there was enough of a wind, coming from the wrong direction (which is anything other than northwest) that it felt colder than it should have.  I went out to feed, and Twine was steaming, which is enough to send my stomach in knots, thinking she's going to abort right then and there.  The thing is, there's nothing that can be done, so I just carry on, soaking feeds, putting out water and hay...she cleaned up her breakfast and seemed to chill a bit, so I'm just going to hope it was some weirdness, and she'll wait full term before she shares her baby with us.

Dashed out to pick up a load of hay, once the gang was turned out.  You'd think that would warm me up, but it didn't - that wind again, in the wrong direction.  Obviously my friends in New York, etc., are dealing with much worse today, so my apologies to them...but I'm betting that weird wind was related! After I came back with hay, I finally came in to have breakfast, a cappuccino, and check my email.  I decided to make a phone call I've been putting off for, well, months, to make some changes to my cell phone account.  Why have I been putting it off?  Well, phone calls, to me, inevitably set my day off track.  Why can't I do everything via email or text?  Sigh.  Anyway...that put me behind schedule.  At least, by then, it had warmed up a couple of degrees. Unloading the hay got my body temp up enough, my hands didn't freeze while I was doing stalls, so I got them done in reasonable time.

The phone call setback meant I only had time to ride one horse, so Leo was elected.  As I'd given him two days off, and it was pretty cold, I thought some time on the longe line was in order.  Good call, apparently.  I've only seen him that high on the longe line once before, on a similar day.  Once he returned to this planet, I got on...to cool him out!  Took care of him after the ride, checked to make sure Gracie had survived her day of turnout, and headed back to get ready to bring in and feed the guys at home.

And now...it occurs to me, my HST is due at the end of the week, so I really should be working on that, instead of painting.  That's just the way things work sometimes!

Someone was a little fresh today.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Until I Am Committed...

Last day of the Your Turn Challenge!  Today's prompt is a no-brainer;  I bet you can guess!  What am I taking away from this challenge?

"The Plans I Have For You," 18 x 24 oil on canvas.  Photo reference courtesy Renee Fukumoto.
I have an adaptation of this quote beside my computer desk - it had no source attribution, so I looked it up tonight.  This is the original quote, by William Hutcheson Murray:
 
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

Isn't that brilliant?  Doesn't it say it all? That fed my determination when I got back to my art, after a time away.  And you know what?  So many good things happened.  I sold a piece at auction for real money.  I got to go to Dubai.  My art was pulling its weight.  So what happened?

Well, horses.  Horses happened.  And that's okay.  I didn't stop painting, and I had no end to inspiration with the amazing models I see every day.  I say it all the time - if I never take another photo, I have enough to paint from for several lifetimes.  What's taken a hit is that part I so dislike - the marketing.  The putting myself out there.  It's hard...and even harder when time is at a premium; when I have to hire someone to look after the farm, so that I can go out to shows.  Internet sales have let me keep my hat in the game.  Facebook was great, while it lasted.  Things are changing, though.  All that stuff I said about getting unstuck applies to marketing, too.  It's going to require some out-of-the-box thinking, if I want to rebuild. 

There are a lot of other things going on behind the scenes right now around here - there are big changes ahead, and being in a state of limbo has made it difficult to plan for the future. 

Last year I did a painting of my friend Renee's horse, from one of her wonderful photos. For some reason this one named itself.  The inspiration comes from the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD; "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I have to remind myself of that, and do my part. So here's the real challenge:

Do more.  Do better. Don't settle.

My girl Gracie - registered name, "Therebutforgrace."