Sunday, October 8, 2023

Missed The Horses For The... Horses

On the way back from my recent trip to the Tetons, I stopped at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in North Dakota.  I'd been wanting to visit there for years now for one reason: wild horses.

I was tired and still had another 7 hours to drive to get back home, but I figured I'd take a drive through at least some of the park and see if I could find any horses.  It ended up that I spotted four herds and stopped to take pictures of three of them.  The second was just after the first.  I wanted to cover some miles and see what else I could see, so I passed them by.  I also took pictures of prairie dogs and bison.

A couple of days ago, I took a quick look through some of the pictures from the whole trip and I'd like to share some of them eventually, but in the meantime, I had to share this.

The first herd I saw was this group of greys and roans with a pretty flaxen chestnut.

When I was finally leaving the park, almost 4 hours later, I saw them again.  They were on the other side of the road, back behind some trees.  I found a spot where I could grab a few pictures out of my driver's side door, between trees.  

Traffic was coming, there was nowhere to park right there, so I snapped a few more quick pictures, and got going...


When I was scanning through these pictures just a couple of days ago, I was SHOCKED to see more horses on the ridge behind them.



Where did those horses come from?!  

I never saw them!

There was a foal with them!


I was so focused on getting a few more pictures and getting out of there, before I created a traffic jam, that I never even saw the horses in the background.

So I guess there were actually five herds that I came across, but I only knew about four of them.  I was pretty bummed that I missed noticing them, especially that baby.  However, there would have been no way to get closer for any better pictures - unless I had hiked off the road - and I needed to get going to make it home.

So, yeah, I missed the horses for the horses.  


Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Hard Reset

I checked out of about everything and went to the Tetons for a week. 

At the time, I was in a very bad spot, mentally and emotionally.  Not really… “bad”, but… weird, uncomfortable.   I broke down stressed and bawling the night before I left, about so many things… okay, yeah, "bad". 

For a while now, I’ve been telling everyone that things were good and that I’m happy, happier than I’ve been in a long time.

That was (is) absolutely 100% true!  However, I’ve also felt like I’m drowning.  I feel freer, more accepted, loved, and supported than I’ve been in a long, long time (forever?).  But… well, I won’t trot out all of the reasons and excuses why I felt like I was drowning.  Now I feel the simple answer is that I was, pardon me for saying, lost in my own bullshit. 

This Tetons trip had been a dream for years.  I almost talked myself out of it, several times, but I went.  It was long days in the field with a good friend who is a professional photographer and some of her fellow photographers.  I wasn’t sure what to expect: I was sure it would be fun, it’d be good to see my friend again after several years, maybe I’d take a few pictures, before I returned home to my mess (literally and figuratively).

Instead… I came back on fire to get to work, handle my, uhem, bullshit, and get back to what’s important to me.  After getting home late last night and passing out, I was up and cleaning my disaster of a studio at 6am this morning and I've only come to a pause now, at nearly 5 pm, to write this post that's been swirling in my head. 

I think this was in part due to the time away, but also time with a good friend, and several other lovely, supportive, and creative people, that I now consider friends.  It was long days from before sunrise to after sunset in a breathtakingly gorgeous area - mountains and aspen trees feed my soul.  It was extensive time and freedom to play with changing lenses on a camera (for the very first time), messing with settings, taking pictures of moose, pronghorn, elk, birds, squirrels, trees, sunsets, and sunrises.

It was sitting for an hour or more - I have no idea, it doesn't matter - in near silence with a resting herd of pronghorn and realizing only now that I was nowhere else during those quiet moments than right there sitting in the sage, behind a small pine tree.  My mind didn't wander, I had no anxiety, fear, panic, or uncertainty.  

It was also choosing to listen to audible most of the way there and back.  I started with a tried and true kick in the butt titled "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield.  I've read it once or twice in the past and listened to it at least once before.  I wanted a refresher.  In re-adding that to my library, I discovered a couple of sequels.  I also added a few other books by other authors that caught my eye. 

In addition to a bit of music, here's what I listed to on the drive there and back (2,000 miles and change).

Picture from Audible

I hesitate to say that "I'm back!" (whatever that means) but I do feel that I can fully acknowledge that I've fallen prey to Resistance (from "The War of Art") over and over and over again, particularly during the last year.  I do not want to lose the momentum that's carrying me through today.  One day at a time, I plan to keep going, focusing on what's important to me, and staying aware of how I can trip myself up (oh, there are so many ways). 

The author of "UnF*ck Yourself" also has other books, including a companion book to it with a workbook to dig deep into your life and... well, unf*ck things.  I listened to part of that book on the last leg of the trip and I'd like to chip away at the workbook.  He is Scottish and reads his own books in an entertaining and engaging way (Steven Pressfield reads his, too, and is great).  He had me laughing and also just going "wow..." at some of the uncomfortable truths I recognized - while I also marveled at how different his coaching is from others.  I have tried several "self help" type books over the years, but these 4 books are, in a word: refreshing.  They are a gut punch, but it's a good one. 

I needed it.  

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Quietly Very Busy

Sometimes, when I go quiet on here, or on my social media accounts, I'm not up to much. 

Oh, who am I kidding, I'm ALWAYS up to something, or a bunch of somethings, but I suppose I mean model horse type stuff, in particular. 

Lately, however, I have been up to a LOT in that category.  

The year started off rough, I was quite sick for a couple of weeks and it was hard to go from having so many plans for the New Year, to not being able to do, well, anything.  I feel like I've more than made up for it with a flurry of activity over the two weeks.

I have prepped about 50 horses for paint... seriously.  Usually, I dislike prepping, greatly.  My biggest problem is that it never feels like it's done.  I feel like you just have to reach a point where it's "good enough".  Once in a while, though, I get in the mood to prep and when that happens, I try to do a bunch of it.  As a result, this time around, I've done initial prepping on about 50 horses, mostly stablemates, but a few traditionals, too. 

That's a Zafirah, Duende, and Constantia.  I have colors picked out for all three of them.  The horde of stablemates...  not so much, yet.  

I'll be washing and priming the prepped herd in the next several days and then looking them all over again.  I've also got a small herd already in primer that will join the flow for prep round two.

My plan is to start painting next week.  

Speaking of next week, I am signed up for my first Heather Bullach oil painting workshop.  For February, she is offering a workshop on painting black (one of my favorite horse colors, probably no surprise there).  The cost to join was less than her usual classes and so was the material list.  Not that her other workshops aren't worth it!  I have been wanting to take one for a while now, but kept talking myself out of it.  I didn't want to buy a bunch more stuff and learn (even more) things that I might not use again... which was a big deal, and realization, for me.  I couldn't turn this one down though.  My first supply order, and also my very first order from Dick Blick, came in yesterday.  One more supply order is due to arrive anytime (several brushes were sold out at Blick, so I think I found them elsewhere) and then I will be ready!

Oh, I need to prep a horse for the workshop.  I'm thinking about using the Constantia...  I have had plans to paint her a liver chestnut, but I do have two of her to paint, so... 

NaMoPaiMo is a different format this year, it's much more relaxed.  I don't have a horse picked out for it yet.  I definitely want to participate - I haven't missed a year yet, despite lots of bad things happening in February...  So far, my only theme has been to paint a resin, since otherwise I used to be intimidated by them.  I don't think I am anymore (thanks to Jennifer and NaMoPaiMo!).  However, I had been trying to focus on Breyers with this prep marathon.  I do have some resins to pick from, if I want to stick with my "theme", so I'll have to think that over during the next few days or so.  

Also, the last couple of weeks, I have been working on stablemate blankets.  When I started finally feeling a bit better, I decided to try something interesting and look for some random inspiration.  I have a horse-themed planner that I'd bought for this year.  I turned it to last week and the picture was of a horse wearing blanket.  Blankets, it was!  I have been mostly sold out of blankets for a little while,  so I figured a restock was in order anyhow.  I also have a bunch of fun new fabric I wanted to try.  So, I have cut out, sewn hip darts, and made straps for around 40 stablemate blankets!  They are basically done, except for putting the straps on.  

Check out the rainbow polka dot pattern on several of them!  When I found this fabric, I couldn't wait to use it.  I think these blankets are going to be SO cute.  

Whew, well, that's the latest!  As always, I hope to post here more often.  We shall see.  If you made it this far, thank you for reading!  I apologize for the sporadic posting.  It's not that I don't have anything to talk about, I actually have a ton, but often sitting down to write a post and format pictures just seems too much.  Or, I forget.  Life has been crazy lately, a really, really good crazy - I'm happier than I've been in a long, long time, but still... crazy and busy (in mostly good ways).  Thanks for hanging in here with me!