Thursday, July 20, 2006
One For The Dancer
There was someone conspicuously missing from last year's "Greatest Canadian" show. Not only was Northern Dancer one of the greatest Canadian-breds to hit the racetrack, he has influenced Thoroughbred breeding like no other. He was the little guy that put Canadian-breds on the map.
This Sunday, July 23 2006, Woodbine is having a Northern Dancer Day as part of the year's ongoing celebration of the track's 50th anniversary. Featured on the card is a $700,000 1 1/2 mile turf race named after the little bay champion. Today is entry day, so look out to see who is coming out to compete for that attractive purse!
In honour of The Dancer, one of my all-time favourites, I did an oil painting on linen board. I was fortunate enough to visit ND in Maryland in 1989, the year before his death, so I had photos. And while he was still very much Mr. Attitude even at this advanced age, I decided for the painting I needed to portray him as a younger horse. That was an interesting challenge. I started with a small pencil sketch from my photos, and that actually became the basis of the larger image on the painting. I guess he's one of those horses I felt almost as if I knew, as if he had lived in my own barn though I met him just briefly. For the racing segment of the painting, I viewed some video of a few of his races, had in my mind what point in his stride I wanted to capture, and from there just used some supporting references to get the anatomy. He was so distinctive, with that crooked blaze and his "I'm good and I know it" look in those eyes, once I was painting it all seemed to come easily (despite the weeks previous to starting it when I stressed over whether I would be able to do him justice!).
If everything comes together, a print or poster of the painting will be on display at the LongRun booth at Woodbine on Sunday. The original is to be auctioned off at LongRun's "Golden Tribute" gala this fall, to raise much-needed funds for the organization.