Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Horse a Day Challenge #9 - Welsh Pony

Wow! I'm actually earlier than I have been. I experimented more with the options on my scanner, and this one's a little better. The drawings are still much prettier in real life, though:-) Don't forget to check out our store on Etsy - they're all there, and everything's on sale through tomorrow (Cyber Monday)!

This little gem is a Welsh Pony or Cob, and is number 9. The Welsh Pony comes in four different types – from small pony to large pony/small horse size. The smaller sizes are a bit more refined than the cob types, who have a thicker set neck and body. No matter what size or body type, these are gorgeous ponies! If the Friesian is my fairy tale horse, then the Welsh Pony is my fairy tale pony:-)

Being 5' 10 1/2", I'm kind of thinking the Friesian's more my size, lol! However, these little guys make wonderful cart horses, so I'm sure I could still enjoy them;-)

A Horse a Day Challenge #8 - Friesian

And for 11/29/08 - it was finished Friday, but is now 12:23 a.m. - yikes! Available on Etsy, and on sale through Monday:-)

This card is number eight, and is a majestic Friesian. This is the horse I expect my knight in shiny armor to be riding when he comes to pick me up:-) The Friesian truly takes my breath away. Tall, solid black, incredible flowing mane and tail, high-stepping action with “feathers” around their hooves – they are a sight to see! They excel in many disciplines – under harness to dressage. And they look good no matter what they’re doing (even standing still).

**Please note that this card is much more detailed in real life - this is the closest I could get it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Horse A Day Challenge #7 - Standardbred

This horse is really 11/28/08. Started yesterday, but was feeling a bit off, so I didn't get the drawing done:-( Getting back up to speed today! :-) And - still having our sale on Etsy!

This card is number seven in a challenge I’ve set for myself. I intend to offer a new horse card each day. This is a Standardbred portrait. Standardbreds are the horses you see on racetracks pulling a cart, trotting faster than you’d think possible! I created this drawing because we watched the movie “The Great Dan Patch” with my grandmother during our Thanksgiving visit. I hadn’t ever heard of the movie, and knew little about Dan Patch. He truly was a great horse – undefeated in his career, and the fastest trotter of his day (the early 1900’s). He was so great, he wound up racing against himself to beat his own records! This portrait isn’t of Dan Patch, but captures the overall look of the Standardbred. They’re similar in type to Thoroughbreds, but more muscular and longer. They're handsome and awesome to watch!

**Please note that this card is much more detailed in real life - this is the closest I could get it. I am still experimenting with both photographing and scanning these drawings for the best result.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Horse a Day Challenge #6 - American Quarter Horse


Okay, this is the card I started last night, and finished tonight. Mojo or not, I was going to finish him and I did:-)

Info about him:
For Thanksgiving Day, how about a horse that’s as American as, well, apple pie;-) This is the handsome, hard-working American Quarter Horse. Known for speed and agility, the American Quarter horse excels in everything from racing to ranch work. They’re also a popular kid’s horse. Well, actually they’re the most popular breed in the U.S.!

**Please note that this card is much more detailed in real life - this is the closest I could get it. I am still experimenting with both photographing and scanning these drawings for the best result.

Hope everyone in the U.S. had a great Thanksgiving day!

On to Etsy, and getting ready for a sale:-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Horse a Day Challenge #5 - Carousel Horse

Well, I was sketching away, even started earlier, but realized my drawing was taking longer than planned. My drawing mojo was just off tonight, I guess! I was going to do this for tomorrow's horse, but will just switch the order around.

If you’ve been following, you know this card is different than the rest – color! I have this carousel horse waiting in the wings, and will be offering more of them as time goes by. They’re such a joy to draw. This one really is different, because I went up close and personal on the face. I work at capturing the fantasy aspect of the carousel horse with just enough realism to make you wonder if you see a spark of life:-)

And like all the rest, this card is available on Etsy
Hope you enjoy it! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Horse a Day Challenge #4 - Clydesdale

Just making it! Here's the fourth one:-)

This is the magnificent Clydesdale! Huge, flashy, and oh-so-strong, these beauties are often seen in pulling heavy wagons in parades. I’m sure you’ve seen them on TV, too:-) They’ve been the stars of some really great commercials.

He's also available on Etsy.

**Please note that it's much more detailed in real life - this is the closest I could get it. I am still experimenting with both photographing and scanning these drawings for the best result.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Horse a Day Challenge # 3 - Arabian Foal SOLD

arabian horse foal
Due to an unexpected interruption this evening, I didn't have as much drawing time as I'd planned. I know, excuses, excuses;-) You try getting off the phone with a drunk ex-relative (aunt by marriage) repeating the same sad story from 1982, over, and over, and over... Seriously. I'm too nice, I guess, but I listened - for too long.

So, this is an Arabian foal, to be completed tomorrow asap. By the time this posts, it will be tomorrow, but a little later than that, lol! Will also have the next horse in the series still coming tomorrow, too.

Arabian foals are so beautiful, and I'll probably do more than one. Kind of a personal love of mine:-) All foals are adorable, aren't they?

Till tomorrow...

And, viola, the finished version! Still experimenting with getting the most accurate tones, hence the difference in darkness between the two.
arabian foal, drawing

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Horse a Day Challenge - Gypsy Vanner #2

gypsy vanner horse drawing
I made it! Trying to get a decent representation to post is taking almost as long as the drawings. Small and black and white seems to challenge both my scanner and my camera, but I'll improve:-) In the meantime, please know that these drawings are much more detailed in real life.

So, this is what I wrote for this card:

This card is number two in a challenge I’ve set for myself. I intend to offer a new horse card each day. This is a handsome black and white Gypsy Vanner. I fell in love with these horses when I came across them a while back. They are a smaller draft-type of horse that come in many different colors; they’re known for their super long flowing manes, tails, and even “feathers” on their legs. They’re known for being both extremely beautiful and very useful horses – pulling carts, being ridden in different styles by both adults and children. They were and are bred by the Gypsies of England and Ireland, and are now becoming popular in America. They look like fairy tale horses come to life:-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Horse a Day – A Challenge to Myself:-)

arabian horse drawing
This is a combination personal and business post. I have decided to take on a challenge that I’ve been thinking about recently: I’m going to draw a horse ACEO (Art Card – 2.5 x 3.5 inches) every day. My mom is constantly telling me I should be doing my drawing, and I thought this would be a good way to do something and complete it:-) The drawings will be in graphite. The other medium I work in is colored pencil. If you know anything about colored pencil, you know it’s not the fastest medium – at least not the way I do it;-) Hence, my drawings will be black and white for now.

Above is my very first drawing. It’s an Arabian horse, and is much more detailed in real life - this is the closest I could get the scan. I plan to do different breeds, but my first is the breed that will always have a hold on my heart. This is where it gets personal… I know it’s still going to be long, but below is a very condensed version of the horse years. It’s still not easy to write, but it’s an important part of the tale and my daily challenge.

From 1981 until June 2003, my mom and I owned and were owned by Arabian horses. I was 12 when we purchased Farrahdette, a purebred Arabian mare. We’d had a sort of mutt horse, but had been boarding at a place that had Arabs. One thing led to another, and we purchased Farrah from a local breeder. At the time, the cost was huge to us, and we had some help for a down payment, and did the rest on terms. We were and always have been a little nutty when it comes to animals:-)

So, I grew up with Farrah. My mom’s and my life revolved around horses. We didn’t show, though we went to a lot of shows just to watch. We bred Farrah three times, each time learning more. We were never rich financially, but I feel I was blessed by having horses in my life. I know we gave up a lot to have them. My mom was a single mom working hard to raise me and to afford the horses. It may not have made sense to others, but it was the world we chose and it brought us joy.

We cleaned extra stalls and did whatever we could to take off on boarding costs, because we had three horses most of the time. At one point, we rented a one room cottage (one small room plus a tiny kitchen, bathroom, and closet) because it had a six stall barn. That was fun;-)

Anyways, I can look back and say it was illogical – all the money we spent over the years on the dream of the horse. Yet, I still wouldn’t change it. Well, except the ending – for sure I would change that.

Horses really were our everything. I’d been drawing them long before we actually had them. In school, if I could put horses into my assignments I did – even Spanish class. The only place it didn’t work was math; no wonder that was my least favorite subject, lol!

Up until 2003, I didn’t know how to identify myself without horses. It almost killed my mom and I to learn how. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. After we had to give them up/lost them, our downward spiral sped up to an alarming rate that culminated in losing just about everything else.

For some reason, after 9/11, Oregon became the state with the worst economy in the nation. My mom and I had left really unsatisfying jobs just prior to 9/11 to try an endeavor similar to what we’re doing now. I’ll be writing a post on my new views about the economy and all that at a later date. However, at that time, we couldn’t find stable work, or work that had paid as much as we’d been making (which wasn’t all that much).

Our self-belief kept going lower and lower. Our creativity drive went lower, too. And, of course, our bank balance went out the door. We hadn’t had any sort of savings, so things really just went south. We had two car loans, rent, bills, and three horses to pay for – doesn’t work too well without income.

You’d think that we would have sold the horses right away, but we couldn’t bear to. We let a lot of other things go before the horses. Even though keeping them had become a huge burden, we didn’t want to let go. How can you let go of an animal you grew up with? How can you?

Well, if you know something has to be done, but you don’t do anything about, the Universe responds to your energy and things start happening anyways. We could no longer pay the board for the horses after May 15, 2003, the people we boarded with were not sympathetic (they didn’t have to be, but it would have been nice). We had until June 15 to find a solution – I believe I waited until close to the beginning of June to start looking...

June 14, 2003, Farrah and her daughter went to a horse sanctuary in central Oregon. Her son, Deringer, was given to a private individual who was recommended by another horse person. That person chose to sell him not too long after, and wouldn’t divulge to whom. When I allow myself to think about it, there’s still a wound in my heart from that one.

The whole experience still has pain attached to it. In the ensuing years, I’ve been able to shed a great deal. However, writing this proves that there’s still some there. This is, quite possibly, the hardest thing I’ve ever written.

After the day we lost the horses, we lost ourselves. Nothing much mattered anymore. We tried to stay afloat, but didn’t succeed.

I don’t know if this will sound odd or not, but I honestly felt I no longer had the right to anything horse. How could I draw horses anymore after I’d betrayed ours? I couldn’t.

It took a lllllllloooooooonnnnnnggggg time before I allowed myself to acknowledge that while I no longer had my horses, horses were and always will be part of me. I know my mom feels the same. It’s in our blood, there’s no other way I can describe it.

While we don’t have horses anymore, I think we’re still owned by them. By the spirits of the ones we had, by the beauty of those we see now…

And, so, I’ve given myself permission to draw horses again. I’ve even done some colored pencil drawings in the past year or so. I’m making a commitment to do more, and to honor every part of myself. It’s the only way I can go forward…

Note: Farrah passed away on June 1, 2006, at the grand old age of 29. She was still at the sanctuary in Oregon, and had been well-loved (we're so grateful, because finding placement for old horses is hard). April (April Ballerinah) was adopted by a family, and became the daughter's horse. Deringer’s fate remains unknown…

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I feel like choosing a happy, light topic tonight. When I thought about something that makes me truly happy, I immediately thought of hummingbirds! That’s right, zooming, spinning, hovering hummingbirds:-) These little jewels have always been a joyful sight to me; and this year, they’ve truly become part of my heart.

This year, I finally decided to learn to photograph them. I figured if I could catch a hummingbird with my lens, I would be better prepared for just about anything else that moves, lol! I swear, even after multiple sessions, and more photos than I can count, I still get dizzy trying to track these little speedsters.

Hummingbirds are just so amazing! Full-speed forward, now backwards, up, down, all around – let me tell you, you get a lot of photos of empty blue sky as you try to catch them. Or part of a wing, as the bird zooms out of range… They are truly breath-taking.

Here in central California, the hummingbirds I saw this year were either Rufous or Anna’s. Anna’s have made up the majority, and are still coming to the one feeder I’ve left up. I’ve read that they can stay year-round, but it’s getting chillier at night here, so we’ll see. I’ll be happy to keep that feeder filled:-)

What Hummingbirds mean:

Several years ago, I discovered a really cool site about Animal Shamanism. It guides you as to what animals mean in your life. The animal can be a lifetime animal, or one that appears for a certain time with a needed message. You can check it out here Shamanism Working with Animal Spirits It’s a really cool site, and just one more way of seeing things.

So, three of the things that hummingbirds represent are joy, love, and endurance over long journeys (makes sense;-). Maybe that’s why they touch me so. They certainly fill me with joy – even when they’re being feisty and territorial with each other.

Hummingbirds live life with exuberance! They are so tiny, and yet so powerful. And, hey, they eat sugar water and nectar. Life can’t get much sweeter than that:-)

All photos taken with my Canon Digital Rebel XT, and either a regular Canon 75-300mm lens or 55-250mm IS lens (the 75-300mm is for sale, if anyone’s interested:-).

All of these photos are available at our Etsy store Nature Visions

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I started writing something tonight that I now realize will take longer to get out than I thought. So, instead, I thought I’d post an excerpt from an e-mail that I sent out in April 2004, letting people know what had happened to us. It’s pretty long (big surprise:-), and this is just the part that connects the dots of our story for the blog:

…As most of you know, my mom and I became homeless at the end of December. We managed to put some of our belongings in a small storage unit, packed what we could in our minivan, and left a lot behind. We knew we had nowhere for it, and knew that although it was difficult to leave it, in the end it was just "stuff". When you hit rock bottom, you certainly have plenty of opportunity to think about what really matters - it isn't "stuff".

What really mattered to us as we were losing our home of 7.5 years? Faith, each other, and our three cats - Ivy, Bugsy, and Skye. For those of you who know the animals we've lost in recent times, you can imagine how important not losing our remaining cats was...

So, on Tuesday morning, December 30, 2003, we headed out of our home with less than $400.00 to our names, three cats, and what we could fit into our '92 Plymouth Grand Voyager with no shocks, leaking oil pan, and a "Maintenance Required" light on (it hasn't had a tune-up since we got it in 08/00). Would it be possible to make it to the destination we had in mind? Were we crazy for even trying? Should we just be trying to stay in Oregon, despite the fact that we'd lost everything there - including, most importantly, our self-worth?

Of those questions, the one I know my mom and I could answer with certainty at the time, and even now, is that, yes, we were crazy. At that point, though, the lyrics "You're never gonna survive unless you get a little crazy..." seemed to hold the most truth. After all, it wasn't like we had much left to lose:-/

Thus began our own "Fear Factor" journey. I'm sure those of you in Oregon will remember that the end of December was not a pleasant weather time. What was intended to be a two-day journey stretched into four, due to some very bad driving conditions. We'd never driven in snow or on icy roads before, nor had to use chains (which, thankfully, we narrowly avoided on this trip). Bad conditions started in eastern Oregon, with thick ice on the highway (and the worst road maintenance), and lasted the entire journey. While ice is the scariest, blowing snow is a close second (especially when combined with icy roads).

I know a few of you are aware of where we were hoping to get to, but others are now wondering where the heck we were headed. So, I'll spare you the details of nights in Motel 6's with our cats - one who's been very ill for some time, and one who had to be kept separate because she doesn't like other cats. Instead, I'll tell you why and where we were headed.

Proof that even in our darkest hour, we still dared to dream; we chose a destination we felt would fulfill multiple needs. We thought our choice might work because it would fulfill our desire to live in a small town, my mom's artistic desire to live in the Southwest, and a joint desire to be in a community that supported our love for animals. If worst came to worst, we knew our choice would have a home for the cats.

On Friday, January 2, 2004, we drove into our destination: Kanab, Utah!!! Kanab is a small town in southern Utah, less than 10 miles from the Arizona border. Kanab is also the home of Best Friends Animal Society/Sanctuary - the largest no-kill shelter in the nation for abused and abandoned animals. We had longed to visit Best Friends for some time, but never dreamt it would be under these circumstances...

This part of the e-mail sums up our journey after we lost everything. Next time, I’ll most likely write about the events leading up to that moment - woo hoo;-) I read all of this and I’m once again amazed at everything that has happened in the past five years. I can still envision the above trip, and I know that no words can convey the feeling of absolute terror while trying to hold on to some sort of hope (and wondering why). Though we’re still recovering, I am ever awed and grateful that we made it – that we’re still learning and growing…

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Scent of a Rose

tamora rose
We’ve all read about scents triggering memories, and have maybe even found ourselves transported a time or two by a magical fragrance. I, for one, love the scent of Play-Doh – I can open a can, breathe in, and feel like a kid again!

The other day, I was transported back by a rose – the scent of which lingers in my memory even now. Not just any rose, but the very first bloom on a recently purchased mail-order rose. A rose specifically acquired because of my recollections of its beauty and fragrance. The name of this rose? ‘Tamora’, a David Austin English rose – one I’d put at the top of any rose lover’s list.

So, the bloom had finally opened up, and I went over for a look see. Because she’s in a one gallon pot as she grows up some, I could hold her right up to my nose. I inhaled, and inhaled, and inhaled – the scent was sooooo yummy and so redolent of times gone by… It brought tears to my eyes.

You see, the five years ago I've mentioned? Well, I used to have a huge garden; it was a bit out-of-control, because of my passion for roses and ongoing search for perfect companion plants. I had over 100 roses – in the ground, in containers, and many awaiting homes. When I say add ‘Tamora’ to the top of the list, I know what I’m writing about:-)

My old ‘Tamora’ lived in half of a wine cask with a lavender clematis climbing behind her, and various trailing plants in front. In full bloom, it was a stunning combination. I have film photos somewhere (possibly in storage). If I find a copy here, I’ll scan and post. She came from Heirloom Roses. We used to be able to drive there, and I always hit their yearly sales – gorgeous, gorgeous place.

So, every now and then, I still look at their website. Recently, they had an online sale. ‘Tamora’ was on the list. How could I resist? My passion for roses lay dormant for a while, but has been eagerly re-emerging:-)

I’m so grateful I didn’t resist, though the feeling she evokes is both joyful and bittersweet. I lost that garden, I lost that home – I know I can’t ever get that back. However, I can recreate and enjoy beauty again.

It’s been a long, hard road to get to the place that allows me to feel I have that right again. Yet that road has been filled with learning, growth, and ultimately, the knowledge that I haven’t lost me...