Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cinderella, Cinderella...

Turning a cool photo into a painting...

Last year, Woodbine Entertainment initiated a contest to select "The Official Queen's Plate Artist." I did enter, what I thought was a beautiful painting of 2014 winner Lexie Lou, and was disappointed when it didn't make the top five – after all, painting Canadian racehorses is what I do!  Anyway, such is the life of the artist – we have to know how to handle rejection, because we don't always fit with that the powers that be are looking for. I decided to enter again this year, and went with something much more generic – a horse in the walking ring, rider up, groom leading her. I had taken the reference photo last summer at the races, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to paint it.  When they announced the 2016 contest – late enough that I'd been convinced they weren't going to run it – I didn't have a lot of time to contemplate what I was going to paint, and picked up the reference photo, already printed. I managed to get the painting done and entry made a week before the deadline, as I was travelling to San Francisco!
One of the photos I shot that day.
The notification date for the five finalists came and went, and I figured once again my work had been bypassed – though last year they'd sent out an email passing along that information. I went to check out the Plate website, and there was the announcement. Clicked through to see the top five...and there was my painting!  That was a pleasant surprise! Now, the painful part begins - the winner is determined by a voting process, and shameless self-promotion is NOT my strong suit. Popularity contests are not things I win. I'd rather see work chosen on merit than on who has the most friends. That said, I've been humbled by the show of loyal friends who have shown their support in my Facebook posts!
Janet and "Cinderella" – that's what the halter plate says!

Now...the title of this post doesn't mean what you think it might.  The grey filly in the painting, named Letter Fly, was bred by a friend of mine. Due to unfortunate circumstances, my friend had to sell her at the yearling sales. She ended up making her first start as a three-year old in Iowa, of all places. After showing little in those early races, my friend was able to buy her back and return her to Ontario, and she was christened "Cinderella" by the trainer's granddaughter. Here, she's gone from a cheap maiden claimer in Iowa to an allowance winner. She is sound and still racing as a five-year old, but when she no longer wants to be a racehorse, she'll be safe.

So, I hate asking for votes for myself, I really do. Cinderella, on the other hand, is very deserving of them! To vote, visit Woodbine's Queen's Plate website, and scroll down to follow the link that will take you to the  voting site.  There has been a bit of confusion in the voting process – you will need to rate the options given from first to fifth. I hope you enjoy all the artwork that has made the finals!




Saturday, February 27, 2016

Warm Ups As Avoidance Behaviour

Study on Raymar archival canvas panel, first attempt, revisited.
I admit it, I started a study the other day, and I have been using it entirely as an avoidance tactic.  Big, detailed paintings are intimidating.  Little studies are easier to tackle.  If they get messed up, it seems to be easier to take.  I started this most recent study on Thursday and sure enough, I messed that up! I did something I very rarely do - I started over, on a completely different surface, abandoning the quick sketch of paint on canvas, for a new quick sketch of paint on linen.  Smaller dimensions, which, apparently, I could handle better than the first, slightly larger attempt.

Today I worked on the smaller study, and got it to the point where I'm pretty sure it's done.  Then I looked at the discarded start.  Another thing I very rarely do, is work from the same photo more than once, but as I'd let the sketch in paint dry, and ghosting isn't something I wanted to contend with, I thought I'd see what I could do with it as is.  I already had the palette set, a very limited one of four colours (and a combination of colours I hadn't used before).  So I played.  And avoided the big painting.  And now I'm writing this blog post, to further avoid the big painting.  It has, at least, made it back on my easel.  Time to pony up and get to it, I guess!  :-D
Study on unstretched linen, second attempt, ready to abandon.



Five Days In February – Days Four and Five!

"Baby Parker" 6 x 4 oil study.
Apparently I forgot to post the last two paintings on the blog!  The last two were both 6 x 4 on Raymar archival cotton canvas panel.  Day Four was a study of Parker (formerly known as Billy) as a foal, looking all sweet and innocent (yeah, right!). Day Five was a portrait of Sheldon, who celebrated his fifth birthday this week.  All five studies are now on my website in the "Studies" section, and for sale, $65.00 each including shipping in North America, until the end of the month.  After that, they'll be going to Equis Art Gallery to replenish the supply of my studies there. They seem to get snapped up there, so if you're thinking about it, don't wait too long!  ;-) 
"Sheldon," 6 x 4 oil study.



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Day Three - Works Well Under Pressure

"Rachel" 6 x 4 oil study on Raymar cotton canvas panel.
So, you get in after a busy day of horse care, riding, more horse care, finally getting registration pics done of the now-yearling, a quick trip for caffeine and sugar, followed by a visit to the tack shop to take advantage of a sale to replenish necessary supplies (honestly)....it's 7:30pm.  And you still have a painting to do.

Yes, you contemplate skipping, but the whole point of challenges is to make yourself do things, even when you'd rather just spend a mindless couple of hours before going back out for more horse care, on an increasingly cold February evening. Or, you know, maybe eat dinner.  I had, at least, prepped the panel with a light tone of yellow ochre.  Small isn't necessarily easier, but the panel that was ready was 4 x 6...or, when I settled on my reference, 6 x 4.  I did choose a head-on head study, as I find these easier.  I procrastinated a little longer because, well, this is just what I do.  Picked up a brush.  Started drawing. Then started just pushing paint around to get the form.  After bits and pieces of an hour (because that's how I work - completely ADD)....this little portrait of Rachel happened. 

Again, loose and imperfect. Today I have more time, so I'll most certainly botch it up. ;-)


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sometimes, You Just Have To Give Yourself a Kick In The...

"New Digs With Toys," 5 x 7 oil study.
Facebook.  We love it. Hate it. Love to hate it.  Every so often these "challenges" come along – we've been having some fun with a music challenge, posting different favourite songs, and recently the art challenge has resurfaced.  I did it a couple of weeks ago – but it's inevitable that one will get tagged again to do it.  When that happened, I decided to make my own challenge, to do a painting a day for five days.  Having done several thirty day challenges (see my Thirty Horses, Thirty Days blog for many of them!) I figured I could pull off five, and maybe get myself jump-started back into a better studio routine.

It's amazing how much better I feel about day two's painting than day one.  I'm hoping by Friday I'll be unstoppable!  Haha....please don't let my horses hear that, they may take on a challenge of their own to stop me!  ;-) 
"Leo ('Hey, Good-Looking!')" 6 x 6 oil study on Raymar canvas panel.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Go Lexie Lou!

Lexie Lou ~ oil on linen.
I've been working on a few smaller studies these days, on various surfaces, just to keep things going in the studio while other things still keep me from spending a more solid chunk of time painting.  I have ideas and blog posts running through my head all the time...they'll eventually get out.

I'm not sure I ever posted this completed painting, for whatever reason.  This is a painting I did of 2014 Queen's Plate winner, the filly Lexie Lou.  Lexie missed most of last season because of an eye injury, and returned to the races last month.  Today she is back in action...in tough, running against her stablemate, Breeders' Cup Mile winner, Tepin. I'll be cheering for the underdog, Ontario-bred! Just a little bit of trivia - Lexie Lou is a half-sister to the mother of our homebred, Rachel (Relocate the Bank).

Cold and sunny day here in Southern Ontario - sounds like a day to spend in the studio, after doing the stalls, of course!
Rachel...cheering for her Aunt Lexie today?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

When The Year Really Starts

The boys of winter?
New Year's never really seems to hold much meaning for me.  Okay, so I have to remember when I write the date that a year has passed (and I actually still write cheques, as well as keeping a couple of logs and journals for different things, so yes, I write the date often!). Otherwise, for the most part, one day blurs into the next this time of year. Get up, do horses, do more horses, hey, horses again, then a little break before I have to, yes, do horses once more.  I maybe sit down twice a day (not counting driving from one barn to the other), and hopefully eat a couple of times (though not necessarily sitting down!). Evenings are when I paint - not usually for long, but I've been doing a little bit most nights.

When the layups go back to the track, things finally slow down a little. It's that big trade-off, though -– horses leave, income plummets! It would be nice if people decided February was a good time to buy art or commission portraits, but it doesn't tend to work that way. I do have to take advantage of the time, though, and get caught up on, well, everything.  Painting, bookwork, farm maintenance, and so on.

The girls of winter!
We're almost at that time, now.  The layups will be going back very soon – the Woodbine backstretch opens mid-February.  I will be left with a very odd assortment this year.  I sent my one and only in-foal mare to another farm in November because I was supposed to be moving, and didn't want that stress on top of everything.  The move thing fell through (another story altogether!) and for now I have a stay of execution of sorts, but I'm not going to bring that mare back this close to her due date – the whole reason I sent her in November was so that she could be well-settled in her foaling environment.   I have last year's foal, now a yearling, and his mother, who is not in foal.  I have my "old" girl, Monster (officially sixteen!), and two off-track Thoroughbreds looking for new homes. Hopefully they will find homes soon, though that will leave things really sparse around here, until horses start coming back from the track, with one need or another.

Anyway...that's where things are at in my part of the world, right now! This means there should be more frequent updates around here.  I think one day on Facebook, I don't remember exactly where, but I committed to finishing one painting a month.  As the end of January is coming at me quickly right now, I guess I'd better make that happen! Stay tuned!

Happy New Year?


One of the WIPs spending time on the easel.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Collector's Items?

Victor

I spent yesterday editing photos of many of my sketches done with my non-dominant hand (while I was still in a cast,) and then listing them for sale on my website.  They are pretty modestly priced, I think, so I'm hoping some will find homes.  I think they're pretty unique, and kind of a cool collector's item.  I don't know if I'm alone in this as an artist, but sometimes I think about my art showing up on Antiques Road Show (or its future incarnation) many years down the road - don't you think these would make a fun story?

Bellator
Anyway...check out my website (look under "Studies") if you're interested.  They are priced at $15.00 each. Inexpensive enough to buy two, or three, don't you think?  :-)

My cast has been off for five weeks now, and I'm gradually getting strength and mobility back.  I really didn't think it would be as hard and slow as it has been!  Getting old stinks! 

Hugo