Completed in the summer of 2014, “Quiet Summer Woodland” (or “Quiet Woodland”, or possibly “Summer Woodland”, the name seems to keep changing) is a representation of a little patch of trail that is one of my favourite places to ride. The wood is open, like a cathedral, under the canopy of widely spaced trees and the ground carpeted with vegetation, much of which is wildflowers. Our trail meanders, cut by the deer that often rest here in the afternoon, their fawns hidden in the under-story. Sunlight filters through the canopy and illuminates patches of wildflowers like stained glass. Burgundy bee balm, golden buttercups, or creamy Queen Anne’s Lace, depending on the time of year. The mist of a hazy summer evening often settles near the ground and the song of the wood thrush echos from the tree-tops. Truly a magical experience.
Sometime in the month of May of this year, I had one of those magical evenings that seem to leave an impression long after. It was that time of the day when the sun is low and everything looks golden. As I was cleaning the water trough for my equine creatures, I left the gate open to allow them to have some time with the spring grass. Their activity on the lawn attracted the attention of the horses in the next pasture who came by to say hello. Dutchess, the ponderous Belgian mare, had no difficulty hanging her head and heavily arched neck over the gate to sniff at the newcomers. Iris accepted the greeting and extended her finely-formed swan’s neck, and for one moment they shared a gentle moment of sniffing nostrils as they acknowledged each other. (The moment directly afterward consisted of nipping and squeals)
“Greeting” is a painting I made to try to capture that refined moment of horse etiquette.
One principle in color theory is that layering basic colors close to another so that they are visually mixed by the eye leads to a richer result than mixing the colors together as a solid block of pigment; for example, lightly sketching red, blue, and yellow together to create the impression of brown rather than only using a brown pencil. Artists are encouraged to use this principle by carefully observing the color of the subject’s undertones and shadows to bring depth and life to the picture instead of just using black or white to darken or lighten a picture. The sister to this principle is the one of complementary colors: the color of the shadow will usually be opposite on the color wheel from the color of the highlight. A scene with blue shadows, for example, will have orange tones in the highlights. Usually the shadows will be dominated by a cool color, but warm shadows can lead to interesting results!
Here is a quick sketch of some black-eyed-susans. Each one uses a different color for the shadow and highlight undertones. Clockwise from left are purple and yellow, blue and orange, green and pink, and deep red with light green. Which result is your favorite? Tell me in the comments!
What does the word unicorn mean to you? Unicorns abound in popular culture, oftentimes as symbolizing little girls, imagination, or fantasy land. For many people, the unicorn carries connotations of femininity and even silliness.
Ancient legends see the unicorn as a symbol of purity. He is shy. He lives in the deepest reaches of the forest and will only allow himself to be seen or handled by a gentle maiden. Sometimes he has the power to purify polluted water with the touch of his horn.
To me, the unicorn represents the soul of nature, and also the soul of horses. His body is large and powerful, but his spirit is noble, wise, and gentle. He will only show his true self to a person that is calm, honest, and does not wish to make use of him. He is to be appreciated, not to be owned. If you are luck enough to see this unicorn, it is a blessing to be cherished.
Tell me in the comments, what does the unicorn mean to you?
One of my favorite things about working on the farm is the opportunity to observe wildlife. On any given day I am likely to see the majestic flight of a heron, the distant soaring of a hawk, or the lively acrobatics of barn swallows.
The other day, I was combing the pasture in search of useful stones for the garden. As I crossed the threshold from grass to trees, I flushed a robin from her post in a small hawthorn tree to a branch about 10 feet away, where she proceeded to chatter incessantly; probably trying to draw me away from her nest. I continued on to the creek-side, where closely cropped grass and distinctly hoof-shaped impressions in the mud betrayed the presence of the equine creature that pretend to be so afraid of this area. Resting on the sunbathed sedges on the bank of the creek were some small frogs, which leapt into the creek with a plop at my intrusion.
Heading back up the hill, I came to the cool, mossy area which contained the loose stones I’d been in search of. As I began collecting, I uncovered a shiny creature, no bigger than my little finger, The Salamander.