A Portrait Of Dutchess: A Memorial

Belgian Draught Mare original watercolor by Laurel Anne Equine Art

This is going to be a sad post. Going through some older work that I haven’t thought about for a while, I came across one of the first portraits I ever painted. The portrait was a gift, completed in spring of 2014. The subject is Dutchess, a Belgian Draught mare who was one of the most important residents of our farm until a couple of weeks ago when she tragically passed away.

Dutchess was a whole lot of horse, physically and personality-wise. The day we brought our horses to the farm, we put them into stalls to let them unwind from the move. Iris’s stall was next to Dutchess, and the Great Creature raised her nose over the 6-and-a-half-foot wall between them to greet her new neighbor. Iris who was barely 2 at the time, stretched her own head up in reply, in a moment my mother describes: “Was like Adam reaching to God in Michelangelo’s painting.”

In the over six years from that first day until her passing, Dutchess was a great teacher to our horses. As a trail companion, Dutchess spent many hours helping Belle get over her fear of crossing water. She helped Iris even more, being Iris’s coach for her first trail rides. Dutchess gave Iris the courage to ford streams, scale steep hills, and blaze through thick vegetation, acting as an emotional (and sometimes physical) wall. Their relationship wasn’t perfect; Iris didn’t always appreciate Dutchess’s steady stream of flatulence in her face and would pin her ears to show it, but my horses did consider Dutchess “an acceptable companion,” the highest honor they can bestow.

Dutchess was the queen of the farm, but even a queen has her not-so-graceful moments. I can remember two occasions when she fell flat on her side. The first, I surprised her carrying a hose to the water tub from behind some trees. As she heaved her huge self to turn and buck, she fell sideways with a splat in the mud, quickly recovered, and stood swishing her tiny tail with an expression that said we should never mention it again. On the second occasion, I made the mistake of trying to bring Dutchess’s companion Robin in from the pasture first. Her Majesty responded to this breach of etiquette by galloping full tilt towards the gate, trying to stop in the mud too late, and sliding her full-ton self into the gate (which subsequently smacked me in the head)

That great force of weight that gave me a concussion caused other issues as well; as Dutchess often leaned on her stall door to rest her joints, breaking it. This led to one of the barn owner’s proudest contraptions: Dutchess’s Butt Bar – a reinforced 2″ x 6″ piece of wood that could be swung out of the way to help spare the poor door some of her weight. When the Butt Bar was in use, on quiet days, you could often see flaxen tail hairs squished through the stall bars as she rested herself.

The stories I’ve shared here are only a few of my most prominent memories of Dutchess. As such a big part of our lives, her presence has been greatly missed. She may not be among us, but her spirit lives on, and there will be more portraits of her to come.

If you would like a memorial portrait of a beloved lost pet, or just one celebrating the ones you have now, you can hire me to paint it on Etsy.com

Belgian Draught Mare original watercolor by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Belgian Draught Mare original watercolor by Laurel Anne Equine Art

The Story Of The Three Cows

The story of the three cows is one that is very dear to my heart. It started earlier this year when I decided to join a fundraiser project for Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary. The farm is a sanctuary for farm animals in Ontario, Canada. The farm is run by two wonderful young men, Steve and Derek, and is named after its most famous, most fabulous, and first resident, Esther the Wonder Pig.

The goal of the project was simple: each artist would select one of the many photographs of animal residents of the farm, produce their own artistic rendering of the photo, and sell it, with proceeds going to support the farm. Of all the photos to choose from, the one of the three cows walking home in the frigid sunset spoke to me the most.

Work began on the painting. Sketching out the scene, working out the intricate branches, and putting the first washes of color on the paper. And, as work began, work got delayed. The demands of Life got in the way, and painting projects got put on hold for weeks at a time. However, whenever the Cows came out, with every layer that was added, I fell more in love with the mood of the painting.

As summer drew to a close, another hurdle appeared; I had intended to enter my Cows into the Saxonburg Fine Arts Show as an entry to the theme of 2016, domestic animals. As I crunched to finish the painting before my September deadline, I came to the realization that I would never be able to sell this painting. Of course, this put me at odds with my commitment to sell it as the condition of my permission to use the photo. I decided on a compromise: I would hold on to the original forever. However, any earnings from products featuring the image would instead be donated to the farm. I think this may be better than the original plan because now the picture can be enjoyed by more people, and there is no limit to the amount of funds that can be raised. If you like this picture, and you would like to support the animals at Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, I encourage you to browse the products featuring them on Society6.com. There are products available that fit every budget, from notebooks and mugs, to duvet covers and large canvas prints! I, for one, know I will never tire of seeing my Cows.

And of course, you can donate to them directly on their website as well!

Prints and other products featuring “Three Cows” are available at Society6.com.

Three Cows original watercolor painting by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Three Cows original watercolor painting by Laurel Anne Equine Art

Holiday Deals On Christmas Cards And More!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday. However, after today, the countdown to Christmas begins in earnest! If you’ll be sending cards to your loved ones this year, how about something a little more unique? Head over to my shop: https://society6.com/laurelanneequineart/cards where I have these designs, and many more, for sale in packs of three, five, or ten. Starting today at 1:00 PM PST and through 11/28 11:59 PM PST, these and all my products will be 20% off AND feature free shipping! Don’t miss this opportunity to give your friends and family a gift they’ll truly treasure this season, and follow me on Facebook and laurelanneequineart.com to stay on top of all my newest artwork! Cheers, and happy holidays!

Laurel

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Peek A Boo

Way too long since my last post, and way too long to upload this picture! This painting was ¬†inspired by midsummer; tall grasses, butterflies, and blooming Queen Anne’s Lace. I named it “Peek A Boo” due to the black Percheron filly peeking through the tall grasses. This filly is Ivy, one of the horses at my barn. I took the reference photo of her for this painting when she was two years old and a very tall, very heavy toddler. Sitting on the ground under a tree, the curious young horse came to investigate, sniffing my shoes, providing the perfect opportunity to snap some shots!

The original painting of “Peek A Boo” is not for sale at this time, however, prints and products featuring the artwork are available at Society6.com

Peek A Boo, original watercolor painting by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Peek A Boo, original watercolor painting by Laurel Anne Equine Art

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