Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What do you think of the Steven Spielberg movie, 'War Horse'? I think it is now in the U.S. theaters. So far, I have only seen the previews and cannot wait to see that movie!

How about the play by the same name, now in New York and in Europe? Aren't those huge horse puppets wonderful and fascinating? I've been so taken with the very idea of them, that I've been finding film clips of them, seeing what they're all about. (No, I haven't seen the play. But I sure did see a short clip of the puppets on the Today show last Thursday---Dec. 15, right after Al Roker's Kids Book Club). The book was "War Horse" by Michael Morpurgo. Four children, ready with questions, were on the show; so was Mr. Morpurgo, who answered each of them and didn't they all have a good time! Yes, they did.

I'll be saying much more about all of this in my next post. There will be a link to at least one clip. Now I need to learn how to get the link onto my blog. It can't be all that hard. Can it?

It will be good to get your thoughts on War Horse.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fryeburg Fair artwork; my article:"Lovebirds; Lovable---Or Not?"; matting/framing: it looks like, for once, several goals at once are being met, and most of them ahead of time. THAT's what I LIKE, and I'm this happy because usually I don't GET to be this happy about Goals.

Many things conspired against these things getting done as soon as they had to be! There's no point in going into that. It's over. Whatever slows us down or works against us to the point of discouragement---if we give in---gives us the chance to get above it all, to do what we've gotta do, (yes, 'gotta'; it fits the situation) and to feel that nice sense of accomplishment at the end of it all.

See? The quote in my previous post: Function in disaster, finish in style (from Lucy Madeira) fits right into everyday life just fine. There's still time for disaster to sneak in again while I'm too busy gloating to pay attention. I'd better keep that in mind. No gloating. Get on with it. So here I am writing this blog when I'm supposed to be doing art. Well, this is the first post since August 6th and writing, too, is an art. I was working in charcoal and thinking of my very tardy blog, which meant I wasn't getting too far with the charcoal, which is too bad since I really like the picture in progress.

My project, the dog's bath earlier this morning, I wouldn't call disaster. The dog has a vet appointment on Friday. It's nicer for the vet to see a clean dog than otherwise--and she really wasn't all that bad to begin with---now she's drying off in the kitchen. Washing the dog means washing the bedding too, for obvious reasons. This is the best day for it all, as tomorrow it's going to rain.

The lovebirds are listening to the radio, which is their third choice of all music forms in this house. CD's are first, records (yes, vinyl, 33 1/3) are second. First thing, they had records, but now the day will become nonstop, so the radio it is. I don't have time to keep turning over the stack of records, and if I don't, and the music stops, they yell in chorus for me to go fix it. Not in so many words, but I know the tone of voice. The light-rock station has a good variety. They squeak in rhythm with whatever happens to be on, knowing almost every tune so well that most of the time they are a beat or two ahead. They do the same thing with the classical music. They'll be fine. So will I, if I go back to the artwork and finish the pieces one at a time, beginning right now.

I wish each of my friends a good day that ends the way you want it to. What methods do you have for getting that to happen?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Artwork for exhibition halls at Fryeburg and Windsor Fairs, and for my Space (7) in Fryeburg Fair's Craft Center, is coming together nicely. Along with horses and dogs, subjects will include barns, assorted farm animals, fishing flies and at least one wagon. Fishing flies are fun to do in watercolor, especially the salmon flies and the various "ghosts", grey and otherwise. Fishermen know what I'm talking about.

"Function in disaster; finish in style." So goes a saying (actually two sayings combined into one) by an educator named Lucy Madeira. From the first time I came across the saying(s), including two more that she was fond of: "Make haste slowly"---which she would quote in Latin---and "Keep calm at the very center of your being", I was intrigued by Lucy Madeira. Who was she? Did she live by the sayings she quoted so often? In my research I found that in the early 1900's she founded a private school for girls, The Madeira School, and was a very exacting teacher. As near as I can tell, she used her sayings to encourage her pupils, and seems to have encouraged herself at the same time.

The portrait photo of Miss Madeira greatly resembles my favorite high school English teacher, Miss Dwelley. I was in her classes I learned so much about, and came to love, creative writing as well as reading. She encouraged us to search out answers in the books and stories we were assigned: why did the main character act in certain ways? What were the results of his actions? How were other people affected by what he did? To this day I remember those questions as I read. The material has so much more meaning that way.

As well, she had wise advice for us. One day in class a student said, "I wish I could know what would happen in all of my life." Miss Dwelley looked at her for a moment and then said, "Oh, my dear, if you knew, you wouldn't be able to stand it." Though I wasn't the student who voiced that thought, life has certainly proved Miss Dwelley to be oh so right.

And so, function in disaster. That has been going on for me, for several weeks now. Various factors spelled disaster, but now I am out of the tunnel. I've figured out all of the artwork for the two Fairs, the reference photos are paired with the paper I'll use, and this afternoon I'll finish the preliminary drawings. Tomorrow I plan to finish a portrait that needs to go out very soon. Then, complete concentration on the Fair artwork---and at that, I'm weeks ahead of my usual schedule at Fair time. "Make haste slowly" applies here, as I haven't rushed until my head is spinning, but have thought out each step, determined to enjoy the process.

Wesley Dennis, who illustrated many of the Marguerite Henry books, used to say, "If it isn't fun, don't do it." I can see exactly what he would have meant---if art stops being fun, quit. That doesn't apply to artwork in its beginning stages, because each piece has to go through an ugly stage when you could cheerfully scrumple it up and THROW it AWAY. That's definitely not a fun stage. We have to work through that stage, and gradually the work comes right and we're happy. We've conquered our doubt by working through. If making art in general has become a chore, though, and the joy has gone out of it, no matter what we've done to work around the negativity, I can't help but think it would be time to stop. Who knows? Maybe after a little break, we'll be ready to give things another try. Who of you has gone through this sort of thing?

"Finish in style"---I very well know that for me THAT won't happen until my space in the Craft Center is completely arranged, furnished, and the pictures fill the walls, and the mugs, matted paintings and prints and the packages of note cards are in their places. Then I can sit down with a cup of tea and contemplate the coming eight days of activity in my booth, where old friends and new will stop to see the latest work and the favorites from another year, and we'll do a little catching up. A quietly stylish finish. How have you felt after working through obstacles and finally coming out on the other side, especially when it looked as though things might not come together?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Surprise...Summer Is Under Control

There IS no end to the surprises around here in the past weeks. The illustrations are finished and everything has been sent out. I hope that what I next hear from the publisher about this manuscript will also be an unexpected joy. Considering that I've made a list of publishers to send to---not planning to let this book sit around after any of its return trips to me---obviously the big surprise can only be that this current publisher will send an acceptance letter. Now wouldn't that be nice....

The remaining surprises:(1.) while going through older art magazines I found a reference photo that's been missing for 6 (!) years---oh yes---and what are the chances of that? (I had used it to mark my place). And I even still want to work from it. The way things can go, and usually do, is that I find some (very) long-lost landscape photo and say, "What did I see in that?" Not this time.
(2.) Everything got done---flowers planted in yard and window boxes; screen porch all ready for summer; lawn gets mowed before it starts looking like a horse should graze on it; "Everything" includes the writing assignment I had to finish, then cleanup of writing area and drawing area, and making out my list of entries for the Fryeburg Fair Exhibition Hall art show. Now summer is under control. Remember I said that. I can make art in peace, instead of rushing. Rushing gets old, don't you agree? Of course.
(3.) There have so far been only 2 Driveway Worms to rescue. Well, they're really earthworms. I think I would call them Nightcrawlers. Usually there are many, especially after a rain, and there they are, all stretched out as far as they can go (I THINK; how far CAN they stretch?) and all wishful,"...oh, where's the dirt...this doesn't feel right...need dirt...there's only this hard stuff...", and then there comes morning, and me, and before they know it, they're in the grass. (There, you guys).

Tomorrow afternoon I am to learn how to photograph my artwork and get it onto the computer in an orderly manner. THEN, I'm told, I can do all sorts of things with it. That should be good, technically challenged as I am. I'll have to take notes. The huge surprise here is that, weeks ago, the photographer checked my camera over and said it can do everything needed to get the job done. Who knew? Tomorrow: a very good time to learn a new way of doing. I'm delighted. There are many more happenings, but I'm sure, by now, I've mentioned enough.

This blog, titled Horses & More, has nothing about horses today, but plenty about More. Chickens. A good topic which will be showing up in the artwork before too long.Thinking about a Main Street restaurant, The Golden Rooster, got me to thinking of the big golden chickens we once had. They'd make good subjects, especially the Buff Orpingtons. Cochins of any color are always good, too. Our most memorable ones were the big white one and several gold ones.It's time to make time for them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It All Began With Walter Farley

Yes, it did. The man who wrote The Black Stallion series, The Island Stallion series.....and more.
My answer to a reader who commented on my blog, got me started on my own start, which was when I was about 7 years old. Each morning before school, I ate breakfast while listening to The Black Stallion, read by Arlen E. Barnard, on the radio. My mother discovered that program one morning, and from then on it was all over. There had to be more horse books. More.
One Saturday---I had to be at least 8 by then---she took me to the public library and got me a card. I asked where the horse books were, and then, it really WAS all over. There they were, a whole long line of them. That's when I discovered the Black Stallion series and The Island Stallion series. At first I only took a couple at a time. As I got to reading better, I took one or two more besides. Just couldn't get enough of them....
All of that just never stopped. My grandmother helped the cause. Except for the beautiful little dresses and colorful shorts, tops and pajamas she made for us, she would give us other gifts too. Most often, books were what she gave me. Very memorable books that still stand on my shelves. Other books have come and gone (but when it comes to horse books they, too, are here. Once they get into my hands they are HOME. Right next to the ones she gave to me).
Throughout school, I hated math. The pad of white typing paper my folks bought me to do math problems on each year, mainly got used for horse drawings. "It's all gone??! How could it be all GONE? That is for MATH. You used it up drawing horses? No wonder you're failing math."
The horse books found their way to school too, making great reading during geography class. And so, came the day I heard: "Yes you can ride your bike to the library with Anna. It won't make much sense, though, because you aren't to take out any books until your grades are where they should be. (Report cards had come out, mine was obviously lacking, to put it mildly).
Okay, so that's where it began, with The Black Stallion. Much later there was The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy, with such an exquisite rendering, in black and white, of the stallion Midnight--dancing--and his little rider, that I felt I really wanted to draw like that someday. The books by C.W. Anderson affected me the same way. One of them, I took to the weekly art class in high school, and worked endlessly on the head of a thoroughbred in leather halter, facing straight out of the page. That was my first pencil drawing with serious detail in it, and it was difficult. I still have it. (After all that work, I would hope so).
Last summer at the local library's book sale, I found Man o'War by Walter Farley. Had never heard of it. The other day I read it, and it was such a fast, fine read that I almost couldn't put it down.
Now, of all things, it seems that I need to be illustrating the novel I just finished. Someone wants to show the entire package to a publishing house she has worked for, as an editor and illustrator. Rough drafts are in progress. It sure is interesting, pulling the pictures out of one's mind, putting them on paper to match the word pictures already there. I'm off now to do more. There's no telling how all will turn out.....there are always surprises, aren't there!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Manuscripts and First Impressions

Reading and re-reading of my manuscript of The Sidewalker, has taken up many of the past several days. This morning before getting down to business, I read a post by Writer Beware, dealing with an author who took great exception to a reviewer's opinion of her self-published book. ( I'm mentioning no one's names here.) If I ever thought (which I don't) that proofreading more than twice is not necessary, silly me, this article alone would make me think several times. Reading this, for me, was more than a word to the wise. Anyway, I'm nearly done with the 4th reading of my manuscript, and have found---how did I miss them, 3 times?---several missing commas, two missing quotation marks, and a paragraph that wasn't indented. In the final 4 chapters, how many more errors will I find? I will have to do another reading to see what else is there. My-oh-my. Well, better me, now, and some more, than the public, later. Once the manuscript goes out, it will have to stand on its own. There's only, ever, one first impression. Everyone knows that. It's a good thing I really like the world that is in this book. Going into it again each time is fun. Seriously. The manuscript began its journey to publishing houses more than a month and a half ago. It is in New York. It's good to keep busy while waiting. Obviously, I am. Eventually there will be either a request to see more of the book, or I'll get a rejection notice. In case of rejection I'll immediately send it out to the next name on my list. And keep busy some more. For as long as it takes. I have a lot of names. An outside chore that I was going to do today, has been eliminated by the Dept. of Public Works. Hearing machines outside near the street, I found sidewalk sweepers, the street sweeper, and some other kind of sweeper that cleans the strip of grass between. My lovebirds were thrilled, as they love noise and new sights. Also they love a good mess. The happenings outside, qualified in all ways. Really, the amount of sand and debris on that grass strip, was larger than I've ever seen. Well, we DID get an extra foot of snow here, this year---a drop in the bucket, compared to some places in this country, I know. I was going to rake (and rake and rake) it all into the gutter and hope that was all right to do. From what I saw, it surely is. That's good to remember for the time when possibly the town budget might be cut. There hasn't been anything said about that here, in any way, but I don't mind being ready for ANYTHING. Just Be Ready, have a plan and an alternate plan, is my motto. Today, after I go through a couple more chapters, the alternate plan is: Grab the chance to take my small spaniel, Scarlett, for an extra walk in the sunshine. On Friday we're getting Snow. Here on the coast, we may only get half a foot as we'll be getting rain as well. The farmers have always called snow White Fertilizer. I'll try to look at it that way. :))

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Fever At Therapeutic Riding Facility

Spring fever has hit the riding community. Students and volunteers at therapeutic riding facilities aren't immune. Today there was a neat post on my Facebook page from one of the facilities I have become acquainted with when doing some research. Titled "Driveway Trail Ride," the 4 photos were posted by Riding To the Top, located in Windham, and show well-bundled-up mounted students and their sidewalkers traveling up and down the long, straight driveway which is still snow covered. RTT is a ways inland from here. We at the coast got rain on Tuesday. They got about 3 inches of snow. I loved seeing this fun-on-horseback, and am sure the students have spent a long, long winter looking forward to the day they could again meet up with a good four-legged friend---and they do indeed form very strong bonds with their horses---and with their volunteers as well.

Today, with temperatures in the low 60's, and 2-inch-high daffodil sprouts in my back yard,we know spring is on the way, even though tomorrow it again will not look that way. The cold will be back for awhile yet. Who cares? We have today. Actually, all we ever have, anyway, is today. Each day is a new Today. Each has something good to offer. Might have to search, some days, but something good is there somewhere.

It won't be long before the screens are again put up, on the screened porch. I won't say I can't wait. Of course I can. Now's the time to complete all possible projects here in the house, and make a list of what I'd like to accomplish, in all ways, once the really nice weather arrives. So, be glad for a little more Inside Time. Look out at the grassy (muddy-grassy?) yard, still too wet to think about raking. Go out and pick up some little branches torn from the maples and the spruce, by the winds of winter. Write to my relatives. Do my volunteer work. Take my little spaniel for a walk on those nice, dry sidewalks she's been waiting for. And aim my mind toward the summer projects that must be planned and finished before the end of September, so my booth at Fryeburg Fair will look as though it has something going for it. That's half the battle.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, there's bound to be time to walk on a beach or two somewhere; to visit a couple of local working harbors with their lobster boats. And put my camera and sketchbook to good use.

Are you forming plans for the summer? For now, do have the best of all possible days.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Drafts Are Providing Inspiration

First drafts are providing inspiration today, for what has to come later. And what is that? Two good-size barn paintings, two equine drawings to complete, and an outline and proposal for a nonfiction book about my Great-uncle Byron's farm.

The outline and proposal would come first if I weren't at a loss as to how to begin. What stopped me? The stories of my first horses---all of them---that have clamored for years to be written. There they've been, somewhere in my mind, almost surfacing every time I attempt a new beginning with other material. So. Yesterday I finished an 8 page draft about Chief, the Appaloosa, and began the piece on Rajah, the iron grey Arabian. And, who would guess---early yesterday morning I turned on the bedside lamp, grabbed pen and paper, and the ideas for the beginning of the farm book are down on paper. Funny how that works, isn't it.....

Also funny; here I am---the one who always says a sunny day always makes me ambitious--- tearing up the keyboard, getting all of this stuff down and now really itching to get to some artwork before it just bursts out and goes---where? Mm. Here I am, happy with what got written, on a day when there's nothing but rain.

Well, as I told someone, I'll think about all of it, and think some more, until eventually I can't stand it anymore and out it will all come, and that's exactly what happened. Now, on to the next project. It's best to grab the chance now. Tomorrow is a day of work away from home; can't do any more with anything creative until Friday.

When are you the most energetic? Inspired to finish projects?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I See Real Ground Out There!

Yes, I do; some DRY ground, even! The last time I took a good walk around the neighborhood, only one sidewalk was usable. What I thought would be a fast walk---like everyone else, I really needed a Fast Walk after the way this winter has been---turned into more of an endurance hike than anything else. Well, it all worked out after awhile, with no broken bones to speak of. Really, NO broken bones. I have to joke, because although the footing looked pretty good when I drove up my street in the car, and that's what got me so determined and cheerful (deluded, really) about a Fast Walk in the first place, by the time I was on foot it was a whole other story. Hummocks and peaks of ice, then just enough solid ground to keep a person unaware of the little slick spots that came next. Can't call it black ice, as the sidewalk is brick. So is it red ice? Absolutely.

Today is a whole other story. The driving rains on Sunday night into Monday morning, got rid of all the sidewalk treachery. It's enough to make anyone start their blog. Again. This time I'll keep it going. The middle grade novel is finished and beginning its rounds of publishers. Notes for another are sitting in a little stack right here. Artwork projects are nearly finished, then I can start some new ones, including illustrations. The sun is warmer, higher in the sky, and ambition is getting completely out of hand. I'm grabbing it right now and aiming it in the right direction. Toward this spring and summer's goals.

How did the winter treat you? What are your goals now that nice weather is on the way?