Tuesday, 8 December 2009

08/12: HAVING A TIDY UP !!

Its just too dark to draw now (daylight lamps are a godsend but they do make me 'headachey' after a while) so I decided to tidy up my folders of historic photos - more than half of them have gone to the recycle bin ....

I got a little sidetracked as usual.  A common problem for me and my fellow pet/horse portrait artists is being asked to produce realistic portraits of  four legged friends who have passed away and where there are no good close up references to work from.   A fellow artist recently told me she's often felt like putting a huge notice on her site saying 'Please photograph your horse/dog/cat before its too late' .... not something we could really do methinks, but in this day and age with digital cameras readily available its much easier to do (in theory). 

I'm one of the worst culprits.  I've had my horse for nearly 20 years and in the 'early days' I took reels and reels of photographs on my non-digi camera - only to find there were no pictures I really liked.   Now that we are both much older and greyer I have a good camera but don't really want to take photos of her - preferring to remember her as a younger lady.   This is very much a personal thing, but I have been asked on many occasions to portray an animal using (poor ref) photos taken maybe 10 or 15 years ago rather than the more recent, better references, of the older animal.   In such cases I usually work from a selection of photos to find the happy medium.

This afternoon I've been working my way through several folders containing photos of my mare, Roxy.   I've deleted about half of them, which should free up some storage space.   Its amazing how very different she looks in all the photos dependent on age, time of year etc.,  her colour and shape vary enormously! Although these are some of my favourites, none of them would present a good reference for a head portrait - I really don't have many close-up head shots of my own horse!!  So please ..... don't do as I do, do as I say .... get out there and photograph your 'best friends' at all opportunities :o)

Roxy was in very poor condition when I bought her, she had obviously been broken to 'ride and drive', and still had driving shoes on when I saw her.  She had recently lost a foal (according to the vet) and had mastitis and was generally very unhappy.   She hated men (barely tolerates them even now) so I can only guess as what sort of treatment she had received in her early years.   When I bought her the vet believed her age to be either 5 or 3 years, so for the first year or so we didn't doing any strenuous training - mainly tried to win her confidence and it paid off - she has never been an 'easy' mare but she is super-intelligent and great fun.  I wouldn't have swapped her for any other horse.

This is Roxy when she came back into work after 7 months off following a fracture of the splint bone on her hind leg (instead of removing the splintered bone, vets allowed the bones to knit together and calcify to make a stronger repair).  She is a cob and looks particularly 'chunky' in this picture but I think her 'bossy/inquisitive' personality shows through.

This was us returning home from a local dressage show - she was really on her toes here and unwilling to stand still for the photos ... bless!

and this was taken on one of the charity long distance rides we participated in - this was taken 15 years ago but I can still remember how bitterly cold that April day was - which is why my friend Laura and I are padded out like Michelin men.


Christmas Day (around 15 years ago).   For various reasons my best friend Jenni and I always avoided the usual Christmas day hype and took ourselves off for a long 'pub ride' on Christmas day - appropriately decorated of course.

These are some of more recent shots in the last couple of years ... she doesn't pose for the camera - she definitely isn't a 'girly' mare - she wallows in mud and hates being groomed.   She is also dominant and has had three fractures during her working lifetime.  We know the first was through fighting (she was witnessed) but nobody knows how the other two occurred - she needs to be number one in the pecking order and keeps the others in check.  

'Shan't pose for the camera' !!

"Still not going to pose"  ..... and here you can admire the teeth that just cost me £250 following Roxy's equine dental treatment visit !

There ... that wasn't so bad was it???    
I just wanted some more recent shots of the two of us - but it was dinner time and Roxy just wanted to get into her stable.   She has gone really grey and now that she is retired I no longer clip her so she looks like a woolly bear from October till March!

Butter wouldn't melt !! 

Well its been a productive afternoon taking a trip down memory lane.    My recycle Bin needs emptying but I've just found one last thing to add:

Do you agree?????


pett paintings said...

Hi Sue, What a lovely diversion to my day that was! I love horses but have never been lucky enough to own or ride one, I guess it's a bit late now.
Roxie looks like a girl who knows her own mind :-)
Great photo's and the end of your blog made me ;D

sue said...

She is feisty but I wouldn't have her any other way.

Glad you like the last pic ... haven't found a way to hammer down the dustbin lid yet :o)

sam said...

Great photos, particularly like the Christmas decorations!

Jan said...

Sue, I've wanted to comment on this post since you put it up but kept getting sidetracked.

I really like Roxy's looks and think you should be able to do a painting of her from at least one of those photos! I think Roxy and my Bonnie must be related as Bon doesn't like her picture taken either and is a total hog in a wallow when it rains!

sue said...

Thanks Jan
I had a pastel portrait done of Roxy in 1990 by a professional artist who exhibited at a major UK horse show. In those days we didn't get to see WIP or interim scans and I was pretty disappointed with the end result (but not brave enough to say so at the time). It was a very competent but 'soulless' portrait and its tucked away in the back of a cupboard these days. It was that experience which spurred me on to practice my artwork more ... and look what trouble that got me into :o)

jennicrook said...

I'm beginning to wish we could avoid the Christmas "hype" again this year; I've 11 to feed on Christmas Day and 17 on Boxing Day. Anyone got a couple of neddies they could lend Sue and Me for the day please?

sue said...

I could bring her out of retirement!

Roxy's tack is still stored at the yard but I know if I bring her saddle out of the tackroom she'd die of shock!!

Good luck with feeding the crowds. I assume the French branch of the family have confirmed they're coming over then?