It surprises me that I have never attempted to paint horses. All of my early life I doodled horses on any scrap of paper I could find. Eventually I got pretty good at drawing them. Dreary day art musings led me to thinking about this after I went out to feed the real-live horses I have now. One of the horses is limping this morning and I need to get out there and clean both of their hooves good and take a look. It’s been dreary, snow, ice, and now deep mucky mud for weeks. She could have either wrenched her foot between rocks or is getting thrush from being ankle deep in muck for weeks.
Everything is muddy here now, but especially so where I feed the horses. And unfortunately, that’s where they stand for most of the day these days. There’s no grass to eat in the field and until recently, just walking anywhere was hazardous because of ice. Before that it was a foot of snow. Heavy, wet snow that broke treetops all around the place. I give them a little copper supplement when they’re in muck for weeks like this, and it usually keeps the fungal infections at bay.
Dreary Day Art
I put what I think and hope are the finishing touches on my first serious attempt at a full-sized oil painting this morning. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know the anguish I went through trying to get it to a point that ‘worked’ for me. It finally worked, and I’m happy with it now. Here’s a look at my ‘studio’ space. You’ll see it’s pretty cramped. With watercolors I worked on the table but I find that with oils I prefer to stand. And so I put my easel on top of some things on my desk to get it at the right height. Turns out that it’s not as messy as I’d expected to work with oil paints, so I’m doing pretty good at keeping the paint off of everything around me while I work.
Where to sign?
I’m done with the painting now but I don’t know where to sign it, or with what. I’ve tried putting my initials with paint on the lower right corner, but that looks too distracting. I can write a fine enough line in paint to use my whole name or write it small. Whatever I end up doing, I want to be consistent going forward. So what I settled on was first initial last name in the red sandstone. You can’t see it from six feet away, but up close you can. It’s still sheer enough to be visible but not distracting (I think). And I think it’s far enough from the edge so the frame doesn’t land on it:
A learning experience
I learned so much with this painting. Now I just hope that the things I learned transfer over to the next one. It’s still so much trial and error and at many points I just panicked and threw down paint without paying attention to what exactly I did. Of course, that happened in the same way when I began painting in watercolors. Eventually I reached a point where I didn’t agonize so much over the process and just let it unfold. Once I relaxed, I realized that I could usually work around any mistakes. And that some of the mistakes were actually improvements! And I also realized that in the beginning and through the middle of almost every one, it looked horrible in my own eyes. Inevitably, though, there came a tipping point. And that point is where the magic happened. It’s when the painting begins to ‘work’ for me and I get the assurance that it’s going to be alright.
That little moment is the gateway to a liminal space. Being in that space is the driving force behind doing the art, for me, at least. I think it’s because I’m the one consciously creating that moment, that space in time where I am completely and totally absorbed with the process of shifting colors. I haven’t found any other way to get to that place intentionally. They happen often enough when I’m in nature. But those are random occurrences. With painting it’s not guaranteed, but far more likely that I’ll encounter it during the course of the process. I wasn’t sure I’d find it in my first painting, but as it turned out, I did.
So Why Not Horses?
I have no idea. I just haven’t been inspired to paint one, or even draw one since high school. Perhaps I burned myself out with it back then. But more likely it’s because the reason I drew horses so much back then is because I wanted one so badly. Now that I have horses, it’s no longer a dream, but a reality. **Shrug** Who knows? Anyway, I’m going to go outside in the drizzly, dreary day now and see what’s up with Shasta’s limp. We’ll walk down to the creek where I can wash her hooves and take a look.
If you are interested in a set of my paints for yourself, check out my online shop to see what’s available. I usually make extra when I make my own.
Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints. In 2023 she began her journey into the world of oil painting with those same pigments. Her paintings of the Ozark-inspired scenes feature exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.
Her online portfolio is at www.PaleoPaints.com.
Click here to join her mailing list.
LIKE & SUBSCRIBE ON YOUTUBE