* Canvass: The forest
* Paintbrush: My saddle, my bridle — Atop four willing hooves
* Medium: My horse
My horses ~ My art!
My living, breathing, finely-sculpted, fluid-formed expression — a palpable, pulsing artform on four hooves.
To me they symbolize something even grander and more elegant than the amazing beings that they are.
My horses carry me into their realm. Into Nature and Freedom itself.
Together, we become part of a living painting, with changing light, shadows and shapes, back-dropped by trees and earth and scrub — all kept in constant motion by the ever-beating metronome of hooves and lungs and heart.
Like the famous works of the Masters, my horses free my passions and feed my soul. They take me higher, deeper — into a greater world than I would ever reach alone.
As I watch my horses frolic in their pasture, I delight in how they move and respond one to another. Like a grand living organism, each seems to know his position in the herd and accept, or challenge it.
From my vantagepoint, I observe the antics, the movements, the intentions played out in the acre-sized fenced framework before me.
I interact with the art and the art interacts with me. My presence alone draws the horses to the fenceline, curious, creating both jealous displays of temper, as well as outright outbursts of fun.
Apples tossed into the boundary cause a scurry of activity, each seeking a tidbit, oftentimes challenging a herdmate with ears pinned and hooves threatening. But soon, outstretched necks and gaping mouths chew contentedly, dropping frothy morsels from sticky-lipped muzzles.
Ropes and halters lead them out of the field. Obsidian eyes, soft necks and tangled manes follow closely. Dusty dappled coats receive brushing, blankets, saddles . . .
My tack, my gear, another aspect. The lines, the shapes — pommels and cantles, stirrups and reins — curved leather cradles of tradition, function and fashion. Colorful conchos. Riveting rosettes. Little details that make up the ambiance of the whole.
Once in the saddle, my rides into the wilderness become my paintings. My masterpieces. And I paint them again and again. Each one unique.
A ride never really repeats itself, even on the same horse, same trail. Each adventure offers a fresh approach, a new angle of light, arc of color. The result keeps me riding, ever renewed, in this life-affirming endeavor.
I ride astride my horse, her dark mane pumping, flowing, as we float across the vast reaches, ears pricked forward, ready to greet the ever-unfolding scenery. I inhale the wildness of the place, adding to the intoxication, fragrant blossoms, vanilla perfumed pine, the earthy scent of amber leaves.
Others from our herd gallop alongside with flaring nostrils, dancing hoofbeats and outstretched tails, painting a fast-flowing portrait of joyous abandon. Embracing freedom with every stride.
My trails become my canvass. Texture and color, line and space, light and dark punctuate the endlessly pulsing pace.
The sagebrush in the valley floor greets my eye with rumpled heaps of widespread welcome. Once in the forest, gnarled-branched pinon pines become ghostly gatekeepers with brilliant lime-colored lichen “fringes”, their eerie moanings all but audible.
Contained in the images of the forest blurring past are flashes from my childhood — the daydreams and horsey yearnings from monotonous schooldays past. Now, I live those dreams, I breathe them.
I served my time back then, so that I can ride my time now — and paint my present, my future, with horses.
The outer reaches beckon. Up, up we plunge, forward into the landscape, into greater veils of wonder the farther we venture from home.
Here the light shifts, takes on new meaning. Instinct calls us, drives us on.
Up in elevation, to thinner air and vistas of grandeur.
Past fatigue, past complaint, into the outer reaches of what we are capable of — for therein lie the prize portraits, the Art Nouveau, the Renaissance of distant reaches afar.
My painting complete, inspiration fulfilled. Back at the ranch, bridles, saddles removed. Backs and legs groomed. Yummy cookies eagerly consumed, lips licking a long time afterwards.
My treasure trove of horses, back in their field, happily chewing hay.
I live. I thrive! Ready to “paint” another ride. Another day . . .
Photos: DawnHoof (Dawn Jenkins)
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Journey of Life