Plein Air in the Paddock – Day 3

Wednesday dawned in the same cool, overcast manner of Tuesday. I bundled up and headed to Keeneland for the first race day of the class.

Unfortunately, this proved a little too much for my senses and my painting was… well… rather distracted. This was compounded when the class got a chance to go ONTO the racetrack and photograph the race with the official race photographers (Renee was one of them and she was in our class.) It was getting late in the evening bye the time I posted this, so I can’t show you the great photos I got and can only rave about how close and high quality they are (this is another subject to come back to at a later date.)

The horses in the paddock were almost as entertaining as the racing horses.

What was odd about wandering around is that I would see people and think how familiar they looked. It took me a while to figure out why this was…

When not entertaining myself with exercising horses, race horses, or some other horse-related past time, I did draw and paint a little. A very little…

[image removed]

I have to say, this was the hardest day for me. Obviously I was enjoying the trip, but the painting part was not going as well as I hoped. I wasn’t getting what Cindi was telling me and I wasn’t getting the kind of horse-painting-related input I was hoping for. It wasn’t the workshop was bad, it just wasn’t what I hoped. I went back home that night and thought about what I could do differently the next day…

Plein Air in the Paddock – Day 2

On this second day of painting class I resolved to get up extra early to get some exercise shots on the track and walk around “behind the scenes” to get some reference shots and ideas for paintings. Keeneland is wonderful because they really allow a lot of access to barns.

Of course, by arriving at 6:00 am I was too early to get anything except this kind of shot.

tooearlyWhile this has an abstract beauty that may translate well into a future painting, I think you can see why I am thinking that this won’t work for a lot of camera space.

So, I hung out and concentrated on getting shots around the barns.

By the time it was light enough to get some good reference shots, the horses were no longer looking at me like this…


Cameras, tourists, and even artists are pretty common place around Keeneland. And NO one has any respect! For example, these two helpful souls decided to pose while I was trying to get a SERIOUS artist-y shot.

norespectNo respect. 🙂

As for painting, well, it was a light day for several reasons. The main reason is that the class elected to go on a series of field trips. We saw the AAEA Shades of Blue & Gray, The  Horse in the Civil War and then over to Georgetown to view the Fall Open Juried Exhibition and Sale. Those two items took up the whole afternoon.

Frankly, I was relieved because my paintings were going no where. I had done two value and composition sketches the night before and had come to “work” planning to work on a piece using these. Halfway through the morning, however, I switched to another piece.

The AAEA shows were AMAZING. I saw the work of my fellow class participants and a lot of other great artists. I also learned a lot about what the AAEA is looking for and their jurying process. A lot to think about there.

By the time we were done there, it was time to quit for the day, so I made my way back to base camp. On my way back I got behind this car.

knitterscarI loved the top bumper sticker (I’m not sure what the other two are yet) and when it pulled into the knitting shot down the road that I posted about my first day, I knew it was destiny.

Small, cozy, a little wacky, and utterly charming!

Small, cozy, a little wacky, and utterly charming!

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.

[image removed]

Nothing 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.

And now I’m behind

I apologize for my “radio silence” of the last few days. I arrived here in Lexington with everything I needed except for one key ingredient… the plug to my laptop. When I noticed this, I asked my Mom to ship it here, planning to use the battery sparingly until it got here. This plan would have worked beautifully… if I could have remembered to turn OFF the computer to save my battery.

At any rate, you now know. When I got the cord today, I had a grand plan to write a bunch of posts to catch everyone up fully. But it’s taken me three hours to download my photos (be afraid…) and, well, I’m getting tired and still have to paint tomorrow.

Rest assured, I am having a GRAND time and, indeed, Lexington is proving to be horse-a-palooza. I have many stories about exciting things, but the coolest (and the one I alluded to on my limited facebook access) was that today I got to go out ON the racetrack with the official track photographer and photograph a race! So totally cool. They are going to put my pics on a disk and give them to me. Is that not the most freakin’ awesome thing, like, ever!

Anyway, hopefully tomorrow evening I’ll be able to conquer Monday-Thursday, so tonight I’ll focus on the Kentucky Horse Park trip from Sunday.

Arrival – 8 am (before opening)


Me and Man O’War (the statue…)

I arrived at KHP at 8am because that is what time the website said the Hagland Midsouth Three-Day Event and Team Challenge started. And the park wasn’t open. I walked around admiring some statuary (it really is awesome, but I won’t show you ALL of it) before I decided to sneak in and just start searching.

No one stopped me (or really was anything but super nice and helpful) and before long I came across some horses all outfitted for competition. So… I followed them.


The Three-Day Event

In the interests of time (I may have to come back to this subject of the Three Day Event later) let me just say that it was a really great event.

This event was some sort of team challenge and a few of the teams really got into it. Case in point: one of the more sedate team costumes.

Of course, some teams were pretty average with just matching tops or saddle clothes. Still, I saw runaway brides, ghosts, and a great variety of team T-shirts.

It was a pretty serious event, though. After watching the show jumping for a while, I walked the cross country event (probably a couple of miles through the countryside.) While I was watching they were running Open Novice and those jumps looked pretty big to me (even though they assured me the jumps hardly got smaller (only one level was lower)). Most of the people were adults of various ages and sizes, but there were a few teenagers. The youngest person I saw, as always, seemed to display the most class and sportsmanship. I hope whoever has her appreciates her (and her pony.)

I have hundreds (almost two full memory cards) of reference photos to go through later, but I am SO glad I snuck in to see this.

Back in the Park

By this time it was past noon, so I grabbed a bit to eat and went back to the main entrance to pay for entry and tour the park properly.

I made it to the 1:15 Hall of Champions showing. Funny Cide is one of the reasons I didn’t want to miss this, and he was in the show; however, he proved to be a rather moody attraction. The other residents proved charming.

From there I admired more statues, the Horses of the World exhibit, the “Big Barn”, the retired police horses, and the horse museums (the American Saddlebred Museum was particularly good.) I concluded my day by taking a horse-drawn trolly ride.

meandcalmIt was an EXCELLENT day! Tomorrow I will do my best to catch you up on Keeneland and the class, but it’s bedtime now!

I’ve arrived

No, it’s not your imagination. I have been quiet on the blogging front this week. Between trying to get work stuff done to go on vacation and actual vacation prep, it’s been busy.

But finally, the day has arrived. At 6:00 am this morning I got on the plane and began my Lexington adventure.

First, review of Frontier Airlines: 2 thumbs up. Pleasant staff, timely arrival, fun plans (I rode on “Coronado” (a big horn sheep) and “Erma” (a white ermine). Terribly fun. I did indeed check my bag and it was $15. Still a racket, but not too bad considering some stories I’ve heard.

I arrived in CIncinnati right on time and enjoyed myself from… well, the start. Before we landed the plane banked over the area around the airport and the foliage here is STUNNING! I tried to get a photo, but my Kindle didn’t want to cooperate.

The walk through the airport was a lot of fun because there were LOTS of pictures of horses and racing. With every step I was more excited!

I no more than drove out of the parking lot at the airport than I came across the first of two racetracks I ran across in my travels (so far).

The drive down to Lexington was shorter than expected (the speed limit here is 70 and everyone goes MUCH faster). I admired the foliage as well as several hawks and vultures.


I was so far ahead of schedule I decided to take a quick tour around and see some sights. I started with Old Friends. I’m scheduled to do a tour next Saturday before heading home, but I didn’t think a drive by would hurt.

When I drove up, on the pond you see in the first picture, there was a great blue heron.

Across from Old Friends was a farm called Summer Wind Farm (this link says they spend 2.1 million on a broodmare in 2011…) There were some good looking yearlings in the paddocks surrounding that.

In my explorations I came across the second track, a Standardbred track that I knew to be closed (so disappointed).


But there was something almost as exciting in the parking lot: FRED! There were two weddings going on there today and Fred was the official carriage horse for one of them. His owners/handlers were kind enough to let me pet him. He’s adorable!

With all this excitement behind me, I arrived at my destination in downtown Lexington, a small and charming house that I am staying at through AirBNB. Jacki and Rob are charming, and I love the house. The neighborhood is also charming. Knitter friends… notice that there is a yarn shop two doors down called… “ReBelle”. I’m in the right place!

And for my final pick, a picture of my room. My friend who asked for this will know it’s just for her!

roomAs you can imagine, I’m tired now. I got up at 4am for the plane and didn’t sleep well (combination of excitement and my rotten cat Bella who decided she needed to express herself at the top of her voice at 1 in the morning).

Tomorrow is slated for Kentucky horse park. It will be horse-picture-palooza tomorrow, so brace yourself!

Shows, skies, savannahs, and Sheltie

I survived the Open Studios of Beavercreek show and even sold some paintings! I think this is a great venue and hope that with long term exposure I can build my audience. For my 2015 goals, I will definitely be keeping OSB in my plans!

All three days, after closing “shop” I headed down to Canemah for a quick hike. As I mentioned on Friday, the oak savannahs (which also have the madrona trees) are ripe and literally swarming with various berry eaters.

My ID and photography skills are show to be… well, questionable.

The skies over Canemah this time of year are spectacular. It’s amazing how a few clouds can add interest to the day.

After spending the last week with my mom, Finn is back with me and also enjoying the hikes. I sure missed the little guy.

Finn will be with me this week, before being reclaimed by Mom while I head to Kentucky for a week (only three days away now!) Maybe we’ll call him a time share dog…

Recap of the week

For a long time I’ve known that October would be a busy month; the WSO convention, Open Studios of Beavercreek, and my Kentucky trip were back-to-back this month. With recent events, however, things have gotten a little busier and, well, a lot harder.

Still, the show must go on, and it certainly did this week.

Tuesday evening I went out to Hillsboro for the opening of the Hillsboro Plein Air Plus opening at the Walters Cultural Center.

paintingandiWhile my paintings did not receive any awards, my painting (seen here) “Sunday Brunch” was hung next to the Grand Prize and 1st prize winners: “Now We’re Cookin'” by Sandra Pearce (I painted with  her at the event and rode down to WSO with her… her greatness will surely wear off on me!) and a painting by Steve Kleier (sorry Steve, I can’t remember the name.) The event even got a great write up in the Oregonian! After the event Sandra invited me out with her friends and we had great Mexican at a little place just down the street, before I headed back home. I felt like I pumpkin as I didn’t get home until 10pm. Unprecedented in recent history.

But I am without Finn this week (he is enjoying a vacation with my Mom.) Frankly, I really miss him. I almost don’t know how to cope with things like cleaning my plate without him. He’s coming back tomorrow (Mom too…) and I’ll be glad to have him back, even if only for a few days before I head off to Kentucky.

What free time I had Wednesday and Thursday will filled up with getting paintings matted and framed for the Open Studios of Beavercreek show this weekend. Today (Friday) was the first day and I was delighted to see several friends and fellow artists swing by. I even sold some of my recent, small-size, painting-a-day challenge paintings. It’s a good feeling.


After the Open Studios, I went for a hike down at Canemah (without Finn… I almost didn’t know how to do it). The madrona berries have ripened, so the big scene there was the cedar waxwings flocking to devour the berries.

A few robins even got on the action. The birds are so noisy, and if you get close enough you feel like you are getting rained on as the birds shake loose the berries. But those berries certainly don’t go to waste!

Fall is certainly dogging our heels now. The leaves are turning, and the light is going; even at 6:00 in the evening it’s now too late to take good pictures.


The light was fading on this… but the blur and spider webs gives it a fun, funky look.

I hope to see you all tomorrow.leaves

Returning to regular life

It’s Sunday night and I’m back from the Watercolor Society of Oregon convention and bracing myself to return to work tomorrow after the events of last week. I think I can do it; the trick is to keep breathing.

Friday night Sandra picked me up and we headed down to Medford for the show and convention. I saw lots of hawks on the road, but only got one picture of any note (it’s surprisingly hard to grab a photo while speeding down I-5 at 65mph).

forsaleStill, I’m a little in love with this photo and I’m thinking a tweaked version as a painting might be fun…

I arrived in Medford about 10pm and headed straight to bed. Saturday morning I was up and headed out to my Rogue River Paint Out. It was at the Del Rio Vineyard, next to the Rogue River.

I started two paintings, but had more fun just looking around and taking in the scenery. I’m toying with the idea of taking this quick little photo and turning it into a painting: “Intense Blue.”

jayintenseThe painters regrouped for a little critique of our work (and a little merlot) then headed back to the hotel where I attended the juror’s critique. Linda Daly Baker was our juror (she’s the one that selected “Sizing Up the Competition” for the show) and she also liked “Egret”. I guess that settles my debate about whether or not it is done!

2014.choate_egretThe final stage of the day was attending the exhibit opening. It was walking distance from the hotel, and I changed into my fancy new clothes and headed on over to the Rogue Gallery & Art Center. Without a shred of prejudice I can tell you it was a stunning show hung in a great space with care and attention to detail. I am so honored to be part of it. I just wish more people I love could have seen it. In the meantime, they’ll have to settle for this photo of me next to my painting.

meandpaintingSandra also got into the show with her painting “Unintentional Pond.” When we (finally) got done congratulating ourselves, we walked back to the hotel to take part in the awards banquet. Along the way, we had the briefest possible photo shoot of some of the older buildings around the gallery.

The banquet was a little long for my taste, but I sat with good artist friends, so it wasn’t too painful. Sunday morning I was up and checked out in time to head out for the WSO meeting, followed by the juror demo. From there, it was home to real life: laundry, groceries, work, and Weight Watchers.

I’m ready.

Randomly… because that’s all I’m capable of

1. It’s Friday after an intense few days. I am taking the day off and as I sit here doing, well, nothing, I totally think it was a good move.

2. About Dad. For those who weren’t aware of the “whole” story, here is a recap.

Mom and I moved him into a memory care facility in mid July, and since that time we have seen a rapid decline. Within a month he had moved beyond the legal capacity of this original placement. We were going to move him up to a Portland area facility on Wednesday.

Mom had driven up here Monday to sign the papers and do a few preliminary things. She was staying the night with me before driving back down to the beach to move him Wednesday. Monday evening the original beach facility called and told her that Dad had “taken a turn for the worse” but they indicated that they still thought the move was on.

Tuesday morning Mom drove back to the beach as planned, and when she walked into the room, she knew he couldn’t be moved and that death was near. Neither of us was expecting, however, that he would die that evening. But Wednesday about 3:00am, hospice called and said Dad had passed. Mom called me 30 seconds after my alarm went off and told me the news. I got dressed, got in the car, and went down to the beach.

We went through the mortuary process to have him cremated and quickly decided to postpone a memorial service for some period of time (we still aren’t sure when). Thursday morning we moved him completely out of the beach facility, and I headed back home.

3. When I got home the whole situation hit me like a ton of bricks (only half a ton before…) and I decided to wait one more day before going back to work. So far today I have slept and started a load of laundry.

4. I need to pack because I am still planning on heading down to Medford for the Watercolor Society of Oregon convention where my painting “Sizing Up the Competition” is entered. It seems like a big chore.

5. Wednesday, after we were coming back from a final viewing of Dad’s body, I spotted a bald eagle and Mom and I pulled over to take some pictures. Turns out there were three bald eagles and a red tailed hawk. The red tail was dive bombing the eagles. All three were loud and very active while we were standing there.

I can’t speak for Mom, but I thought a lot about Dad as I was standing there taking pictures. He would have loved this. He loved bald eagles and photos and was always stopping to see something.

After we started up again, Mom told me a story.

During Mom and Dad’s wedding week, she and Dad and Uncle Darrel (Dad’s brother) and his wife (Aunt Robin) went for a drive to a place where they new the bald eagles hung out. There was a big eagle in a tree, and Dad want a picture of the eagle flying. So the three of them hollered and waved their arms, trying to get the eagle to fly. The eagle, of course, just looked at them. So they gave up. At which point, the eagle flew.


6. Finn is getting a little vacation too, because he stayed down with Mom. She gives him lots of walks and treats.

7. Confession time: I did not finish the “30 paintings in 30 days” challenge in September. I had a big day on Sunday the 28th and actually didn’t feel well. I posted about O.F.F.F. and was planning to cheat with a double post on Monday. And then life got in the way. And I got a little lazy. So… I did 27 paintings in 27 days. Not too shabby.

8. If I do a challenge like this again, I’m going to focus on one topic. But it will be a while.