“Daisy Chain” is a fanciful painting I made around March to capture the essence of spring. The background of this painting uses a very loose technique with lots of bright, fresh colors. The bay horse nibbling at his buddy’s flower wreath is the inspiration for the whole scene, and provided a great opportunity to practice drawing new horse expressions! The bay horse is based on Felix, a horse at my barn who can never resist a snack!
Today marks the end of the Saxonburg Festival of the Arts as well as the Saxonburg Fine Art Show. Every year the art show chooses a theme, for 2015, “country life.” Nothing says country life, especially in late summer, than a hay field. Especially, a hay field that’s newly baled, on a fresh morning full of crows or blackbirds gleaning for whatever goodies have been uncovered in the grass.
Unlike some of my other pictures like “Quiet Summer Wood” or “Maiden and Unicorn” that take weeks of painting, thinking, and revising, “Mother’s Love” was completed rather quickly, in just a couple of hours one afternoon. The main inspiration for this painting for me was the opportunity to play around with the appaloosa coloring: the dark spots on white, the white spots on dark, the roan-ish blending between the bay and white areas, and the speckling around the mare’s muzzle, were all exciting for me to work on. However, the main draw for people who see the painting is the interaction between the mare and her foal, reaching around to gently reassure her baby, a tender moment that seems to transcend species.
Sitting here tonight on a hot late-summer evening seems like the perfect time to look back on “Summer Night,” a painting completed around this time of year in 2014. Three horses under the full moon, quietly grazing and bonding in a tall meadow full of fireflies. Crickets are chirping, horses munching, and the soft breeze blowing through the grass cools the evening air.
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.
After a few weeks with no new work, I decided to change things up a bit with a quick and dirty little colored pencil picture. Anyone who is familiar with the world of Pokemon knows about Snorlax, the Sleeping Pokemon. While world famous for eating and sleeping, Snorlax can also learn the technique surf to ferry the player across water in the Pokemon games. So in the spirit of summer, I decided to make a little sketch of Snorlax hanging ten.
Particular challenges in this project were portraying the transparency of the wave, and the water shining on the surfboard.
In Chinese and Japanese mythology, it is said that if a carp swims upstream and climbs a certain waterfall, known as the Dragon’s Gate, he will be transformed into a Dragon. This legend has made the carp (also called koi fish) into a symbol of perseverance. The koinobori is a kite shaped like a carp that is flown on Children’s Day in Japan. Blowing in the wind it resembles a carp swimming upstream and is meant to express the hope that the children will grow up with the strength of the dragon.
This legend is the source of the seemingly bizarre relationship between Magikarp and Gyarados in the Pokemon universe. Magikarp is an infamously weak koi fish Pokemon which if trained to level 20, through the perseverance and persistence of the trainer, becomes the powerhouse dragon Pokemon Gyarados. The in-game technique of waterfall, used to swim up waterfalls and usually earned by the player late in the quest, is probably also a reference to this legend.
Speaking of Gyarados, why is this Pokemon, which clearly looks like a dragon and is based on a legend of a dragon, not a dragon type? And why does it gain the disadvantageous addition of flying type when evolving from the pure water typed Magikarp? I, like others, suspect that Gyarados was intended to be dual typed water/dragon. I imagine this was changed at the last minute due to type weaknesses and resistances; dragon was only weak to two types: ice and itself, while the second type of water resists ice attacks. This would leave Gyarados vulnerable only to dragon type attacks, which in the first generation of Pokemon games consisted solely of “Dragon Rage” (which does set damage and doesn’t take weakness or resistance into account) thus making Gyarados invincible.
Below is my interpretation of the legend of the Koi and Dragon featuring Magikarp and Gyarados. The Japanese Kanji is read “ken-nin-fu-batsu” and translates to “indomitable perseverance or invincible fortitude”
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?