A horse is a magic carpet with four legs.
A horse is a magic carpet with four legs.
Details of a work in progress…
In the studio, pushing paint around and breathing the sweet smell of oil paint, I thought about this work in progress like a chef might think about cooking. All the mixing and “tasting” of colors, all the tiny shifts of “flavor” with a slight increase of one color into another, is like preparing a gourmet meal. The preparation of a particular color to lay along-side another color already up on the canvas is like stirring in one ingredient into another and hoping the mix is just right.
Leading a brush loaded with color and drawing a “bead” is a thrilling experience. The neighboring colors create a delicious contrast that is enormously satisfying. Sometimes one of the colors has to shift in tone or change completely to fit into the whole. The process is not discouraging. It is endlessly fascinating to see how the slightest change of one shade or color can bring the entire work into completeness.
Over the years of blending and mixing colors, I have had the personal criteria that the work must “sing” when finished. As I move ahead with “My Israel My Palestine” the bits and pieces on the canvas must come into perfect harmony for the work to “sing.”
It’s been a stretch of time since I rode ten horses a day and started youngsters for ranches on the Central Coast. When Encore! arrived as a four month old thoroughbred filly that I bought for one dollar sight unseen, I’d been away from equestrian pursuits for a while. Now back in the saddle with the hope of dancing with Encore! I find I’m worse than rusty; the tell-all is my sitting trot. I’m fine for the first few strides into the trot, but when Encore! gets going, I get bouncing. I am improving, so there is hope, but I had no idea how far down the ladder I’ve slipped. I have tried to find a thoughtful approach to sitting Encore!’s spirited trot, but have come up empty, until that is, I got my surcingle repaired. Yesterday, I waited patiently while Jose Carrillo (he owns the shoe repair in Solvang) stitched the broken strap. He took a few extra moments and found a ring and then zip, and he had the long line equipment back in play. While I waited, I picked up a classic cowboy straw hat and bought it for six dollars. I love second hand treasures; but I digress.
Back home it’s late afternoon; so late the daily breeze stopped. I bribed Encore! to leave her paddock for dance practice with carrots.
I prepped Encore! with my meager, but effective long line skills and verbal commands to walk trot walk trot halt trot walk, etcetera, so that when I’m aboard, I can simply ask her to walk when the sitting trot becomes a bouncing trot. This is particularly useful, because I can’t do much when my hands are flopping around when Encore! picks up speed. With a review for Encore! in the long lines and my voice commands, it all becomes more manageable. Yesterday, I got a glimpse of how I might actually be able to gain dominion over this most difficult and necessary skill for dressage as I coax Encore! to listen to the aids and, mercifully, slow down.
Long lines are a double bonus for me. First I’m able to encourage Encore! to focus and mind my voice commands and second I get to watch the progress from the ground. Best of all, at this point, is setting up her square halts and half-halting for transitions. I get to watch the effect of my aids from a distance and when it’s right it’s beautiful. I’m encouraged by Encore!’s natural ability to move gracefully and see how I can influence each stride. It’s a little like being a puppeteer with a thousand pound horse held by two strings. It’s my hope to do everything on the ground with long lines that I do when I ride. It’s an art; wish me well.
I don’t have mirrors (which are common for dressage training) so I rely on a glance at the reflection on the French doors, near where I mount up, to check my position. In the arena, I use our shadow to check square halts. Nothing is perfect about our journey, but it’s a beginning. Since this entire project of dancing with Encore! is outside the norm, I feel free to go ahead with enthusiasm and intuition; devil may care.
Dancing with the wild on the back of a horse is heaven.
When I go to these isolated beaches to collect my art making materials there are, rarely, more than a handful of beachgoers. My goal is to bring the experience of the beach to the city. It’s important that people remember how special a rugged coastline is, and how it touches the deepest parts of our soul and heals.
The ocean is a sanctuary; a place for the spiritual, poetic and artistic, in each individual, to expand. The visitor that experiences this exhibit soaks up the atmosphere and carries it into the world. The exhibit reveals the ocean as a generous landscape that gives us the intangible things we crave; peace, happiness and oneness. The exhibit contributes to a heightened sense of urgency to protect our wild places.
Encore! and Daubry graze while I walk the evolving dressage arena. First order of the day is to measure the Standard arena and figure out where the letters will go. Daubry and Encore! stop in to check on the progress. They check out my tape measure and blue stake markers and move on to greener pastures.
I stretch out my measuring tape and layout the rectangle. Primitive, but effective, I measure twenty feet at a time to come up with a rectangle sixty meters by twenty meters. Fumbling around, I finally get the markers in place and gasp! It’s twenty-five feet short. Despair. So close to perfect; how can this be? I panic and text super-hero-tractor-man Jon. I sleep on it and by the next day, I realize I forgot to include one twenty foot section in my count. Bingo! I have exactly what I need to do USDF dressage tests. Big sigh of relief and a huge apology to Jon for doubting his measurements.
It’s time to dance on dirt floors with a twelve hundred pound partner that is ready to learn all the moves with panache! The question is can Encore! learn to do it; can she learn to dance? I know I can. I danced Flamenco for seven years. Encore! is another story. Born to run, can this high-spirited Thoroughbred slow down enough to learn a sport some people describe as watching paint dry.
We have our goal to dance. We’ll put out our best effort. We’ll start at training level and waltz our way up to level eight. Encore!’s got the sass and flash, but it takes more than good looks and attitude to learn to dance; it takes patience. Patience is not Encore!’s strong suit. If it looks like the dance floor is torture to this high-strung brunette, we’ll pack our bags, load up and ride the wild places for adventure. At the moment, Encore! loves the dressage game. If I keep the lessons interesting and lighthearted, she’ll learn the steps and dance Flamenco!
Ballet is for everybody; especially big equine divas in shiny fur coats!