Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Decisions, Decisions

I've had my nose to the proverbial grindstone lately.... working on a new painting that will hopefully be accepted by my clients for at least part of the commission.  Its finished, I think.  This is always the point where I have to make a second leap.... the first being the start of a painting.... that the picture has resolved itself, regardless how much or how little paint is on the canvas.  And then, the third leap - at least in this case, because this is a very wide-open commission I'm working on - is waiting to see if the clients like or dislike, alot or a little, the paintings. (Usually, my clients approve sketches before I even put paint to canvas, so that I'm sure they'll love the end result! In this case, they liked the general idea, and yet, I had to make a leap to keep working - highly unusual in my usually very controlled commission work!) I'm at the point where I'll soon find out if the commission is resolving itself, is resolved, or if I need to re-attack the 'problem'!  So much of being an artist, for me, is patience, and waiting.....  So here are the two main pieces, and soon, we'll know if I'm done, nearly done, or have more work.
Calf Team Roping at 4 Flags, 36 x 48 in., oil on canvas, £4,000

Crider's No. 2, WAT 2014, 36 x 48 in., oil on canvas, £4,000

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Finding The Passion...

Its been way too long since I've posted here, but the holidays.... need I say more?!  I have been working though.  And what I'm loving is that this commission is stretching me.  I'm currently working on a team-calf roping painting.  Just a bit outside of my comfort zone to be sure!!  But, I have a passion for horses, understand them, know how they work, and so does my client.  I also have a passion for movement and balance, and my client does as well; riding a horse is about balance.  Its a dance, a conversation between horse and human.  In the painting I'm working on, I'm finding my own passion, my client's passion and am finding that I can see just what is becoming important in this work.....the movement and balance and speed of the horse(s) and their rider's.  The focus it takes for both beings to work together to capture the calf, to ensure it gets its shots, its castration, its brand.... 

The next question is how do I say all this with color as well.... and its all set in the magnificent West Texas countryside along the Brazos River - which will also dictate the color and light! Then there is the question of what in the painting becomes spotlit, what is important, what is sketched in as quickly as possible.... Like I said, these paintings are stretching me!  I'd never have pursued this subject on my own, and I'm so very glad I am!

Sunday, 2 November 2014


I began a blog this past October, titling it 52 card pick-up.  I never was able to finish the entry, because life, as it usually does for me, took me, fast forward, into the next stage.  I was suddenly whisked from my time of floating, frustration and insecurity – even if I WAS painting , to action.  I suddenly was on my way to Taos, NM; one of the places of my heart, and always a place of healing and focus for me.  Home.  I spent a week there with friends and family, and returned with wheels and the unsold work from my series Waltz Across Texas – both large and small – and a sense of urgency to get going!!  It was time to start!!!  Yes, I’ve been painting, but I was ready, finally, to start!!!   
Now, I’ve gone from one extreme to the other.....such is the life of a painter.  You never know when plans you may have laid down months or even years earlier, with a time template and everything, are going to finally swing into place.  No matter how hard I tried, I found I had no choice but to float, to wait.  And as frustrating and negative as that sounds, and it was, it was just where I needed to be.  I didn’t see it until I got to the clarity that I find in Taos.  I realized that I had leapt off the cliff, or tossed my cards into the air, and I didn’t fall....but I floated, and have kept floating, watching, using small movements to help me keep direction, but am still floating; and it’s good.  I’m enjoying it!  I’m not crashing into the ground!  Who knows where the bottom will be, but if and when I need to land, it will be toe, roll down to heel, first. 

I’m painting again, but laying the groundwork first – to find the real direction this commission is going to take. I’m immersed in my giant Waltz Across Texas paintings, and letting them speak to me and take me where I need to go!  Floating is good!!

52 Card Pickup....

Modern Cliff Dwellers, The Brazos River, 16 x 12 in., oil on board, £1,250.00
Nothing like tossing your life into the air in one massive 'game' of 52 card pick-up!  I have done just that; and, am still waiting for even ONE of those cards to land.  It's unnerving to say the least, to not have any stability - especially for an artist. But perhaps one has, since I am already painting.... began 2 weeks ago, and am on my third.  Not the commission yet, but these are like warm-up exercises before I really tackle the big project!  HOWEVER,  and it's a big one,.... gotta go!! 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Jumping Without a Net....

paint, panic, run, paint, dance, paint, panic, run, breathe, go deep inside, paint, dance.....under water (or so it feels!).  This is my first three weeks back in the USA.  I'm working again.  Painting the Brazos River, dancing to non-stop two stepping music, completely happy, then when I'm done for the day, I panic.... or sometimes, in the morning when I'm running my 6 mile route (3x/week), I panic.  This is a HUGE cliff I've leapt off.  But, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, breathe deep (no matter what speed I'm going), go deep - check in, dance, paint, breathe, dance, paint, run, breathe.  This change from one continent to another (my second change in 6 months...) is proving to be the biggest challenge of my life, so far.  All I can do is keep moving forward, into the fog, absolutely trusting that the tracks are perfectly laid for my feet, even though I can't see where they are.  The subject for the commission remains elusive, but not impossible.  I need to do these two landscapes to flex my painting muscles, make sure my feet are indeed traveling the perfectly laid tracks. 
Paris, TX studio.... with beginning of  Hot Day on the Brazos

Challenges - the need for my own wheels is becoming paramount; the lack of independence is beginning to tell on my psyche, my ability to do my job.  The phone can wait til I'm in NM, as can a USA driving license, and all the other things necessary to today's life, never mind my work.  The illness of my Dad adds to the challenges, but I'm mostly so glad and honoured that I'm here right now and able to see him even for a few days at a time.  So much to be grateful for, and the knowledge that I know I'm doing the right thing for me, for my work...

I'm trying to decide if its done....what do you think??  I think it is!

Hot Day on the Brazos, 12 x 16 in., oil on board, £1,250 ($2,000 approx)

Monday, 8 September 2014


Looking West on the Brazos River, West of Ft. Worth, TX
I spent this past Friday looking at this view.  After a somewhat spacy, and wonderfully strange re-entry to the USA here in the town of Paris, TX, I am starting to feel my feet - somewhat!!!  Its harder than you think to move back to the USA - anywhere - after living 12 years abroad!  I've spent time with my Dad in his skilled nursing facility room in Dallas; listening to folk songs and western ballads and watching old movies (he really likes Singing in the Rain). I've spent time calming my poor Ardnamurchan kitty and am happy with her progress (what a brave kitty!), and had a few little tours around Paris, and started my running program.  All things designed to help me find my feet so that I can begin to ruminate and work on my commission. 
The thing I did that was best though, was to go out to the ranch on the edge of the Brazos River (Texas) west of Ft. Worth (its a LONG river, so you see why  I tell you SORT OF where it is), where my commission will hang...  feeling the inspiration literally flow through my veins. I could literally smell the juniper and mesquite, feel the dry heat, and felt like I could see forever....  So, watch this space!  I don't think it will be long before I begin to put paint to canvas again....  If I don't give myself heatstroke running too late first!!  First learned rule, don't run after 730 am until the weather cools... 

Friday, 25 July 2014


Village Street, Auribeau sur Siagne, 22 x 18 in., oil on canvas, £2,000.00

I’m now finished with the materials I brought with me to work with, and have decided that it’s time to stop painting for awhile – until I get into the USA.  Since my last entry, things have been moving forward at tremendous speed (for shifting one’s life from 2 countries to one “across the pond” at any rate!).  I been faced with difficult decisions.... all a result of the decision to move home to paint, and the inevitable questions of what comes with you and what stays behind.  No-one should have to make these hard choices, but it seems, we can’t get away from them! 

I’m about to, once again, temporarily (I hope) leave my beloved mare, Dancer, behind while I return to make sure that life in the USA still suits us, after living abroad for so many years.  THAT was a difficult and necessary decision, made apparent by sudden shifts in the USA around importing livestock into the US from Europe.  I’m starting to spread the word that I’m selling my car – my mid-life crisis purchase that I’ve enjoyed immensely in the last 2.5 years I’ve had her; and then there will be the inevitable questions once I’m back in Glenfinnan for a short stay, about what is left, what is sold or given away, and what is shipped home.  My little Ardnamurchan cat, Ceilidh, is returning home with me this time....she has her passport, and is young enough to deal with the challenges ahead.  Right now, in Brittany, I’m focusing on Dancer.  Spending as much precious time with her as possible, making sure she’s completely integrated and accepted in her new herd, and as trouble free as possible for my very generous friend who has agreed to look after her with her own horses.  
Sadly, I won't be able to make the longed for drive across France to visit the caves at Lascaux, or on to the Cote d'Azur.  But, I'll make sure it's part of my agenda when I return to check on Dancer in 6 months. I needed to finish my work, needed to help Dancer, and take care of business...
I finished the last painting mid-week last week, a lovely view down one of the streets in Auribeau sur Siagne, in the Cote d’Azur.  It’s the last main canvas here in the studio, and all that is in front of me is Waltz Across Texas and possibly a painting I’ve put off for 2.5 years – one I saw in a moment of clarity right after my Mother passed away in 2011.  I’m working now on those very difficult sketches of the obvious crowd of beloveds, a host of kachinas (absolutely!) and well-wishers that surrounded her and helped her move on in those last, very powerful yet difficult days.  Art is therapy, and we artists are closer to it than most, as we struggle every day to allow inner images, feelings, passion, and struggles, to flow through our hands into the world....whether it’s by written word or through paint, music, dance, photography, sculpture, or any other medium.  This image may take a very long time to finally produce.  For me, it’s like very carefully lancing a sore; making sure its healing well and that there is only love behind what is left.