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Oct 23

Plein Air in the Paddock – Day 1

Furthering my attempt to catch up, here is the first day of the painting class.

Day 1 (Monday)

morningfarmThe class met at the Track Kitchen in the morning. The food is every bit as good I had heard, and from the first instant I felt like an “insider” to the not-so-secret behind-the-scenes life of a “racetracker.”

Our instructor is talented equine artist Cindi Nave (professionally known as C.W. Nave) dean of painting at the American Academy of Equine Art. This class is a small one: Diana Dee Sarkar will spend all four days in the class, and Renee Torbit (one of the track photographers at the meet) will only be spending Monday and Tuesday and parts of Wednesday and Thursday. The group spent a couple of hours going over our goals for the workshop and our painting styles, then changed locations for a bit of a treat.

Equine artist Booth Malone is spending the week as “artist in residence” at Keeneland.

cottageIn return for staying at this charming little “caretacker’s cottage” on the Keeneland grounds, he has to produce a painting to hang on the walls. The goal is the walls of this little house will eventually be filled with equine art by the world’s top artists. The pieces that are already there are impressive.

instructinoOur treat was viewing Booth’s temporary studio and receiving instruction from Cindi inside the house (it has turned unexpectedly cold in Lexington).

After this, we toured Keeneland. Because Monday (and Tuesday) are “dark days” (meaning there is no racing) we had access to, well, everywhere. Keeneland is as beautiful as I had hoped.

Then Cindi suggested we get set up to paint. Well, you know me. I thought she meant… well… I don’t know. So I went and got set up.

And then nothing happened.

For a while.

I did a sketch.

day1sketchNothing happened.

I went sneaking around to where there were actual animals (sneaking around is becoming a bit of a theme on this trip.)

And then when still nothing happened I went looking for the group.

Cindi meant “get set up” around where she was… not any where. Oh. Got it. Confused as usual. I was now behind on exercises, but sort of eventually got caught up. We started with a value sketch, then changed it (light to dark, dark to light, etc.) Next we “excavated our subject” by taking a subject and doing a vertical and a horizontal sketch to figure out what was important.

By this time it was getting late in the day, and Booth had invited us over for a glass of wine and some artist talk.

Yes, they get the same comments I do: “Oh, you paint horses” and “Oh, it’s a horse.” Yes, it’s tough to make a living as an artist, no matter what your level. Yes, people can be incredibly callous and unfeeling in their requests and comments. And yes, we’ll still keeping painting.