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Exploring Cold Wax and the Intuitive Process

equine art, abstract, cold wax

“Glow” 10×14, oil and cold wax on paper

Last month, I treated myself to a week of learning new tricks. First was a 3-day monotype print class with local printmaker and collage artist Marcy Baker, then 4-days with Cold Wax artist and author, Serena Barton. The two workshops complemented each other well and I enjoyed the comradery amongst the fellow students. There is something different about learning in new-to-me media and then bringing it into my own work and existing skill set. It’s refreshing to be a beginner at something. I seem to have less expectations of myself, and therefore I’m far more relaxed and open to learning. Maybe if you are an artist yourself, you can relate. I have a tendency to be impossibly hard on myself. As a result, I’ve had some anxiety issues going into oil painting workshops in the recent past. The desire to produce noteworthy artwork, trumps learning anything new, which ends up being a detriment to the entire experience. Moving forth, I decided it would be better to put myself in a position of learning where it was impossible to have expectations, because I had nothing to compare to.

cold wax, abstract art,

“Eagle Creek” 10″x14″ oil and cold wax on paper

The most intriguing lesson of the workshops was discovering the wonder of working intuitively. Over the course of the week I managed to evolve and let go of any preconceived idea of what my paintings may look like in the end. This is when the real work began, the artwork became something I actually liked and was proud of.  The medium, pigment, surface, energy and perhaps how much coffee I consumed controlled the process. As a representational artist, it was a challenging notion to let go. When I stopped forcing the horse to appear, my own work improved. It’s a unique feeling to switch into this gear of going by feel and driven by spontaneity.

cold wax, abstract art

“Etruscan Horse” 10×14″ oil and cold wax

It wasn’t until I was home and put the artwork on my shelf that I saw a waterfall, forest fire and basalt rock of the Columbia Gorge, which is how ‘Eagle Creek’ named itself. A friend pointed out a figure resembling an Etruscan style horse, which then named that image itself simply – “Etruscan Horse”. “Glow” was a slightly different process, where I used watercolor crayon to lay the form of a horse in, then wiped over and exposed different areas, till the image just felt right and she spoke to me as complete.

This work is completely different from anything I’ve ever completed. I had no idea I was even capable of producing abstract work, but there it is. Understandably some of my current collectors will love it, others will not. Change and evolving can be difficult to adjust to. Much like when your favorite musician releases a new album with a different sound, and you just don’t quite get it. However after a few listens, the same artist you love is there, and you can begin to appreciate the growth and courage it took to step outside their comfort zone.

Pigathius Lee

 

haflinger, equine art, oil on panel, “Pigathius Lee” 8×10, oil on panel

Available via Daily Paintworks, HERE

Titles for paintings don’t always come easy. One of my favorite models; Ruby the Haflinger,  is sometimes affectionately known in the barn as ‘Miss Piggy’. However, I wasn’t sure if calling this painting Miss Piggy would correctly characterize the grace that Ruby is able to carry off. She is one of my favorite models, a real ham, she can go from exuding incredible elegance, to contorting her body in some weird pretzel, in seconds flat, just so she can get a better chance of scoring a delightful (low-calorie) treat. In all my years of meeting horses for models, I’ve honestly never met a character quite like her.

I set off doing some quick online research hoping I would get led down a successful titling a painting rabbit hole, ending up on the Wikapedia page for the real Miss Piggy. It turns out in Muppets episode 116,  Piggy explains that her name “is short for “Pigathius”, “from the Greek, meaning ‘river of passion'” . In another episode she is referred to as Piggy Lee. So the two together, Bingo! there is my title! I personally love this study of her, it exemplifies her grace, yet there is subtle humour in the title.

Musings on Evolution as an Artist

equine art, Jennifer Pratt, contemporary art,

Mayday Emerge Series, 24×36, oil on gallery depth canvas, work in progress, or maybe done???

Many years ago, I think around 2003?? I had an experience I have not forgotten while I was exhibiting as an art vendor at a local horse show back in Ontario.  An older man came to my booth, he perused my artwork then stated quite bluntly ‘Where is the YOU in this work?’  He muttered a few more words then left, obviously not impressed. Back then, I remember being quite offended, I just wanted him to leave my booth, my feathers were quite ruffled over the nerve to offer his unsolicited criticism that my artwork lacked my personal authenticity. (If you are unfamiliar with the artwork I produced back then, HERE is a link.)

Perhaps it is time that passes, experience and maturity that the day finally comes along where you can actually start to ‘get’ what someone was trying to say to you. I certainly don’t regret the days where my ultimate goal was photo realism of my equine subjects nor do I criticize other artists for choosing to stick with any one style. This is my personal evolution as an artist and the foundation I have myself alone. However now, I am just beginning to look for more within. Skills that I have been taught along the way, life experiences both good and bad, combined with the many, (many!!) hours experimenting in the studio with new ideas, that I can begin to understand, ‘what is me?’

©jenniferprattartist.com

Drafting Mayday, Emerge series. 11×14 oil on panel.

I think perhaps finding oneself through artwork is a moving target. Or if I want to think even more complex, perhaps the moving target is Me? (whoa, deep I know!) I know this, I am quick to bore. I jump around between many different projects the studio. And a newish habit, I like putting a random colour somewhere on my canvas, just to see how it changes the entire picture. As I watch Lesley Humphrey’s online tutorials, she often states, “Same is BOR-ING”. I giggle to myself, because I completely understand this. The same IS boring!  But no matter what project I’m working on, I am also starting to recognize some correlation in my artistic approach to line and composition and embracing that as my own process.

Drafting Mayday, again. This time wiping her form away from canvas

Then, there is that moving target again, one day I am sure to look back, read this and see I have evolved beyond what I thought was my own, onto something else yet again. However, I know this, regardless of what lies ahead, I will still be an artist.

equine art, ©jenniferpratt, horse painting

KyKy, 11×14, oil on panel, commissioned artwork

Final notes and goals for 2019;  I’m taking a break from commission work to explore ideas. Work solely for me and anyone whoever decides they love it enough to buy it. I’m taking a few workshops in different mediums, Oil & Cold Wax is next week! I hope to find a mentor, or have them find me? I envision someone like a good personal trainer who intuitively knows when they can push and when offer words of encouragement when I’m burning out or feeling low about art. Someone without their own ego to manage. I’m still struggling/searching/looking to find my art tribe here in Portland, so maybe I will make some new artist friends this year. I plan to work larger, I’m ready for canvases bigger than 8×10, and I’m not as scared to (sometimes) waste the paint trying. Lastly, finally have enough inventory to ship some paintings out. Equis Art gallery has a few good ones so check them out. Happy New Year friends 🙂

Lesson with the Buckskin Mare

equine art, Jennifer pratt, oil painting, dressage, horse art,

Lesson with the Buckskin Mare, 12″x12″, Oil on Panel

Available via Daily Paintworks HERE

Gina, the buckskin Quarter Horse from British Columbia returns as my model again.  This time I’ve captured her in action during her dressage schooling with trainer Jessica Kellner.  As I was planning this painting, I hoped to create some drama where I could play with movement in the paint. I was also envisioning a luminous glow from her unique buckskin colour.  I tweaked my palette by simplifying my paint selection down to an analogous scheme of 5 colours; Yellow Green, Cad Yellow light, Raw Sienna, Brown Madder & Quinacridone Red light. Phthalo Blue acts as a contrasting complementary colour to add interest.

I’m quite happy with result, she really jumps off the canvas and subtle variations in the her edges flow and move. It’s exciting to finish a piece of work to feel inspired about further possibilities. I am thinking this palette will work nicely with my haflinger model Ruby as well, and I’m thinking something much larger in size 🙂

“Favada”, 22×28 oil on canvas

I wanted to share a highlight from the studio.  I am happy to report the large painting of Favada has sold. It turns out through the amazing wonders of social media, the original breeder of the mare came across the painting from a Facebook share. She recognized her immediately. Little did I know, that Favada was the last mare the original owner bred and sold before retiring from the breeding dressage horses in California. The painting now has her forever home, in what could not be a better outcome for everyone 🙂

 

Gathering for Winter

Mayday in Foal, 9×12, oil on panel.

Summer is winding down in the Pacific Northwest.  The cool rains will soon come and with horses, this means mud and fuzzy coats. With that, the optimal season to be out studying, sketching and photographing new subjects is ending. Yet, I can look forward to retreating into my Sellwood Studio for the winter months to focus on production of new paintings. I thought I would share a sneak-peek into what and who I will be working with over the winter months.

Mayday (pictured above and below) is a thoroughbred x shire cross owned by my friend Stuart at Corbett Farm. Stuart has a unique property with not just horses, but many farm animals ranging from peacocks to pigs. There is nearly always something new on the farm every time I visit. My last visit there was a new clutch of ducklings as well as a handful of baby peacocks strutting around. The property has several unique Airbnb rental units. If you are an animal lover and visiting the area, I highly recommend booking a ride and a stay. Stuart is a wonderful human being and so willing to share his love of animals.

peacock, Jennifer pratt, mayday, corbett farm

Mayday and Peacock photobomber © Jennifer Pratt

Stuart contacted me in late July to let me know Mayday was soon to foal, he was quite drawn to how beautiful she looked and felt it was an optimal time for me to visit to capture her pregnancy glow. I admit I stuttered for a bit, as the many broodmares I’ve painted over the years, I can’t say a client has ever called and said come paint her ‘before’ she has the foal. It’s always been after the foal has been delivered. I’m not one to stick to convention though, so away I went. Stuart was in fact totally right, Mayday looked lovely and she modeled perfectly for about 2 hours with very graceful and elegant poses.  Ideas of how to capture her for Stuart started effortlessly flowing.

broodmare, diarado, jumper, Jennifer pratt

OTMA at 3 weeks.

I couple weeks later I received a call from Stuart to say Mayday had delivered a healthy filly by Diarado he named Otma. Again I went out to visit and captured some great material and gave the oil sketch of Mayday in foal to Stuart as a baby shower gift. Can you tell by the photo above that dad is a jumper???

haflinger, jennifer pratt, blonde horses

Glorious Ruby

Next there is Ruby the Haflinger of Boondoggle Farm in Washougal Washington.   You might remember some oil bar studies I did a short while ago that Ruby was my model. I went back to see Ruby again because I wanted some reference to her in sunlight. It was drizzling rain on my first visit. I knew with sun lighting her coat she would come off with some brilliant metallic copper and gold. Now I know I usually stick to warmbloods as my subjects, but 5 minutes with Ruby and she will capture your heart. She is an exquisite model, yet full of character. She made me laugh all through all her photo sessions. She really likes food! like a lot! She has mastered the ability to go back and forth from total glam model (I call it her Zoolander face) to lip flapping, extended, weird angled twisted neck without moving her feet (see below) thorough the entire model session.

Haflinger, miss piggy, Zoolander

Ruby being weird but still beautiful

Next on the winter agenda is a series of showjumping paintings. I just got back from my first trip to Spruce Meadows Masters. I have been watching Spruce Meadows on CBC every year since I was a small child. Now living in the PNW, Calgary is just a short hour and 45 minute plane trip so I took advantage for the first time this year.  Three days to myself to just geek out on showjumping, YES please!!

spruce meadows, show jumping, Camargo 2, Luciana Diniz

Luciana Diniz of Portugal and Camargo 2 winning 1.60m Tourmaline Oil Cup

I had good seats in the Southwest grandstand. This is directly above/beside the in and out gate. What captured me as an artist was watching how the horses and riders entered and exited the ring. Was the horse backed off, tense or did they trot in like they owned the place? How did that play a role in round they rode? Did they walk out on a loose rein? When the exited did they pat their horse even if they had a bad round? Little things to note, maybe they don’t mean anything to anyone else, but to me, this is where my painting story started forming.

Luciana Diniz, fit for fun, spruce meadows.

Luciana Diniz and Fit for Fun, having a friendly chat by a fence that gave them problems.

Of all the horse and rider combinations I watched over three days, it was Luciana Diniz of Portugal that truly captured me. On all occasions she came trotting into the big ring on a loose rein, giant smile on her face, her horses relaxed, happy, not to mention going in very little tack comparatively to some of the gargantuan bits and gear out there (check out the snaffle!). After each ride she vigorously hugged each horse and engaged the crowd to share in her joy. Her charisma was infectious and I was indeed caught up in it. Fit for Fun aka ‘Fitty’ had just one rail down in the jump off on Sundays CP International Grand Prix. When they returned for the ribbon presentation she walked over to where they had the rail, they stood and had a chat. I can only imagine what she was saying, but it would seem by her extended hand she was giving the mare a little pep talk for the next time they see a similar tall, skinny vertical a couple of strides after a double liverpool combination. After checking out her website, Luciana just seems like an all round awesome person, I hope I am so lucky to see her jump again.

So as you can see, I am ready to hunker down for winter with ideas from Spruce Meadows, Ruby, Mayday and Otma. I’m ready to get to work! ????

 

 

Schooling Finya Sketch Series

dressage, Jennifer Pratt, equine art, oil sketches

Schooling Finya #1, 11×14 oil on panel. unframed

It’s summertime, which means studio time goes in fits and starts due to the lack of routine of school for my son. It’s an ever present reminder to try and stay patient and present in parenting mode, but I do find myself grappling with my mood when I do not get enough studio time to get some of the creative angst out of my system.

equine art, Jennifer pratt, horse art, oil painting, dressage,

“Schooling Finya #4” oil on canvas panel

My new studio in the village of Sellwood, is in such an amazing location. My son is now old enough where he can make small ventures to the local pool with his friends, while I retreat to the studio and steal a couple hours to paint. Then I hear him and his entourage outside my window, down the street soon to burst through my door. And then, studio time is over….

dressage, equine art, oil sketches, horses, Jennifer Pratt

Schooling Finya #3, oil on canvas panel

So given the limited amount of time, but high amount of desire to paint inside me, I felt the want to work on something fast, yet challenging. If you have been a longtime friend of mine, you know it’s rare to see the human figure in or on any of my works. I tend to keep to the horse figure. Despite taking some workshops in life drawing, for some reason, part of me starts freaking out inside once a figure is added. However, this time the rational side of my brain, told the other half..’It’s just shapes’…I know the tack and positioning like the back of my hand, so just relax and focus on the shapes. (yes, I have these internal dialogues, all the time!!)

Finya, dressage, freestyle, dressage

Schooling Finya #2, 12×16 oil on canvas panel

I’m really quite thrilled with the results. They are light and playful, yet simple and to the point.  I can see progressing with these, adding some color, freeing the movement further. Many possibilities! My model for these works is the beautiful Finya, from Island Farm, Vancouver Island BC. She is by Freestyle, out of a Pacific Sunset Dam. More photos from my farm visit HERE

I’ve priced these at an easy $100 each. They would make an lovely grouping, so if anyone is interested in more than one, email me, and we can arrange a group price and ship together.

Oil Stick Explorations with Ruby

Haflinger, equine art, Jennifer Pratt, horse art

“Ruby #I”, 8.5,x12 oil stick on canvas, matted.

Ruby is a sweet Haflinger mare from Washington I met in June. She is the first Haflinger I’ve had the opportunity to model for me. Ruby quickly won my heart with her blonde locks and food-motivated, friendly disposition. I soon discovered her nickname is indeed, Miss Piggy.

“Ruby #II”, 9″x13″ oil stick on Canvas, NFS

I’ve completed three Oil Stick studies of her and this is the 3rd of the 3. Many people are asking me – What are oil sticks?? They are oil paint with wax molded into stick form. The brand I am slowly developing a collection of is R & F. They have a luscious, buttery consistency. I can use the ends to draw on my surface, or flat edge to push/pull/drag colour. I tend to lay the colour in, then loosely detail with my brushes or drag my rubber scraper to blend or lift the colour.

haflinger, equine art, Jennifer pratt, horse art, oil sticks

“Ruby #III”, 9″x13″, oil stick on Canvas, matted.

These paintings are is completed on 10″x14″ canvas sheets, acid-free matted to 12″x16″ and the opening is approx. 8.5″x13″. Comes matted and clear bagged, with acid-free, foam backer board. Studies #I & #III are available, click on images, or go to my Daily Paintworks Gallery HERE

 

 

Colt at Midday

sporthorse, equine art, oil painting, horse art, Jennifer Pratt

“Colt at Midday”, 6″x8″ oil on panel, unframed

Click HERE to bid

It’s that time of year again when my sporthorse breeder friends are staying awake around the clock on foal watch, anxiously waiting for their mares to go into labour. I just love seeing everyone’s new additions, and checking in on young horses I have previously met to see how they are coming along.

I’m in disbelief it was already a year ago that I met this curious colt by Centre Pointe, out of a Westporte Dam at CountryLane in BC. He didn’t have a name yet at the time, but what stood out was his expressive, dish face, wide set eyes are deep red bay coat – just like his sire. I was in his paddock in mid-afternoon, the sun was high and it was getting to that warm part of the day when the babies all take a nap. Such is the life 😉

Wendell

Sporthorse, equine art, Jennifer Pratt

‘Wendell’ 8×10, oil on Canvas Pad

Click HERE to purchase via Daily Paintworks.

This study was created using Oil Sticks. Essentially oil paint, in bar form. I’ve been playing around with this new-to-me medium for a few months now. One thing I am loving about the sticks is the abiliity to really work into the surface by rubbing the stick on the flat edge or with the end tip. Once the media is down I can use my gloved finger or knife to manipulate the pigment as I wish. Moving the pigment around creates texture and adds depth to the surface.

My model for this work is a beautiful, dappled grey gelding named “Wendell” by Westporte, that modelled for me at CountryLane Farm in Delta, BC last spring. The work is on a loose Fredrix Canvas sheet. Would need a backing behind it to frame, or could be hinge taped to matt board then framed.

Young Hunter Stallion

Sporthorse, Equine Artwork, Jennifer Pratt

‘Young Hunter Stallion” 6″x6″ oil on panel, unframed

Click HERE to bid, via Daily Paintworks

Finishing up loose ends in my studio as my sublet is ending in June 🙁  how time flies!! I’m on the hunt for a new space in Portland. Completed this smaller work completed in the studio today and uploaded to Daily Paintworks. My model is from my session with the young hunter stallion Centre Pointe, standing at Countrylane Farm, Delta, BC.  (Holsteiner, Chambertin x Vanda III by Cassini I)

6″x6″ unframed on panel.