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."



Saturday, January 24, 2015

How Do You Surprise Someone Not Easily Surprised?

Saratoga, Baby.
I just commented to a friend that I'm really stuck on what to write about today's prompt, which seems really counter-productive when this whole week's exercise is about getting un-stuck.  We're supposed to talk about a time that we surprised ourselves today. Um....I notoriously work within my own boundaries of self-preservation, so that's a tough one.  This is likely to be another one of those really boring posts! If I've done something that truly surprises me, I've likely blocked it out, so it must have been horrible! 

As my intent today - especially after yesterday's post about "just do it" and breaking out of a rut - is to give Leo and Gracie a well-deserved day off, and find some time at the easel, I've decided I'd better write this post NOW, for better or worse, before I go out and do stalls.  So, my apologies.

I liked this WIP better than the completed painting!  That's never a surprise.  ;-)
2008.  You can read the quick overview here.  You may have heard about our annual treks to Saratoga.  This was one of the early ones.  How determined was I to get there?  Well, I left in the dark Saturday morning, made the six-hour drive to meet Juliet (coincidentally, the above-mentioned friend!) at the house in Ballston Spa.  We did our thing (again, see that blog post), and after the races on Sunday, I got back in the car and drove home!  The 48-hour Saratoga whirlwind trip.  I think, since that craziness, I've managed to make the trip a little less frantic! Still...I actually like to do things like that...so, not entirely a surprise to myself.  It's just all I've got right now, and I'd rather make the most of this day, than stress about this post and have it get in the way of doing something more productive! 

One more day!  :-D

Remember I said I'd probably blocked out some surprises?  I surprised myself missing Hugo's birth.  Eep!  Thank goodness he and Viv managed okay on their own!



Friday, January 23, 2015

Stuck

"Watch and Learn..." Pip has a little advice for young Parker (ex. Billy).
This whole Your Turn Challenge was partly designed to get folks "unstuck" from their blogging avoidance.  Today's prompt is, what advice would I give people to get them unstuck?

I've always been an advocate of "Just Do It," even though I really don't want anything to do with Nike.  ;-) The thing about art - or writing, or probably anything - is, if you wait for the mood, or inspiration, or  your "muse", you'll never get anything done.  I think most of us psyche ourselves out.  We think when we sit down to work, we must create a masterpiece, or a best-seller.  Yeah, okay, some days you go through stretches where you're on fire and everything you paint/write is gold, but I know for me, that's not a realistic expectation 365 days a year. 

Think...or jump....outside the box! (Polly) 

I am currently in a major state of art and writing avoidance.  Part of that is related to what I wrote about earlier.  Part of it is legitimately a time factor.  In the past I've told myself, just start with 10-15 minutes.  And I've learned to be able to do short bits like that, so at least I feel as if I'm doing something.  The problem is when you do get unstuck, you're going to have to deal with the fact that you probably don't have 3-4 hours to spend at the easel, or immersed in Word.  In those times, I try to give myself a day or two a week that I can devote just to that.  The horses I'm riding can have days off to just be - they need that as much as we do.

Cross-training is important in any endeavour! Stevie demonstrates his prowess at Widgetball.

Another way to get unstuck, I'll take from riding.  I'm by no means an expert rider.  Most of my hours in the saddle have been galloping - and hence not really in the saddle so much as hovering above it!  I'm having to re-learn as much as my two horses are, and I can easily get locked into a rut when I'm riding, because I'm trying too hard (and usually failing miserably, haha).  The thing about riding Thoroughbreds - they're smart, most of them.  They get bored easily.  If you get too repetitive, sooner or later it's going to bite you in the butt...so, you have to think outside the box.  Do different stuff.  Challenge them a little, but not so much that they get worried or frustrated. 

Same goes for art, or writing, or working out, or....fill in your own blank.  Try something different.  Play around a bit.  Stop being so freaking serious all the time.  Words to live by?


Song of the day?  "New Low," by Middle Class Rut!  :-D