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
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I’m Back

Cherokee 8" x 10" original watercolor painting by Laurel Anne Equine Art

If you follow this blog or found it recently, you’ve probably noticed that it hasn’t been updated for a while. 5 months is the longest stretch between posts so far, but I haven’t given up this project! Where have I been these past months? Well, a lot of places actually. I’ve learned a new job, swam in some rivers, caught a bunch of pokemon (“- -), ¬†sweated my body weight off ( twice!) and actually finished a few new paintings! I’m looking forward to recommiting to this blog, which represents a lot of my deepest loves in life. So if you haven’t moved on yet, please continue to stay tuned for new posts (and if you haven’t subscribed to my email list or Facebook it’s highly recommended!)

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Cherokee 8″ x 10″ original watercolor painting by Laurel Anne Equine Art

Past Portraits: Rain

Cadenza Storm, better known by her barn name Rain, is a Holsteiner-Thoroughbred mare who is a permanent resident at my stable. Although she has had a somewhat troubled past, Rain has grown into a curious and intelligent young horse. Her favorite hobbies include galloping from the far end of the pasture to the gate, nimbly handling the creek, logs, and other natural obstacles in between, and hiding behind her best pal Mocha after teasing other horses.

I loved painting Rain because of her unusually dark dapple grey color as well as her finely-molded, thoroughbred type features. True to her sense of humor, Rain took an overly serious approach to being photographed for her portrait, and is doing her attempt at a “Vogue” pose.

Portrait of "Rain" by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Portrait of “Rain” by Laurel Anne Equine Art

If you like this painting and would like one of your own animal, I am available for hire! Watercolor Animals Portraits are available for purchase at etsy.com!

Past Portraits: Goosey Gertrude

Goose Portrait by Laurel Anne Equine Art

Sometime around May of 2014 a young female goose waddled onto our farm and made herself at home. For the next four months, “Gertie,” as she came to be known, was a fixture at the barn. Arriving vehicles were greeted with raucous honking, driveways were pooped on, and stock tanks were in ever-present danger if her personal pool was not kept fresh. Alas, as autumn closed in, the difficulties of keeping a lone goose with no real pond to swim in became overwhelming. Gertie was transferred to a neighbor’s farm with a large pond and many other geese and ducks to keep her company.

To commemorate her stay with us, I painted a portrait of her. As a subject of painting, birds present some fascinating opportunities and challenges. Feathers. A lot of them. It was fun to study the way the feathers folded into her wings and spanned her breast, as was working with her subtle, pebble-toned coloring.

Goose Portrait by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Goose Portrait by Laurel Anne Equine Art

If you like this painting and would like one of your own animal, I am available for hire! Watercolor Animals Portraits are available for purchase at etsy.com!