Clean Barn, Clean Slate, Clean Canvas

Over the Christmas break my husband built a large new stall in our barn.  For those of you who don't know I have a population explosion in my barn due to taking back in two horses that I had sold/loaned out to different people.  I never did make a good horse dealer because I feel responsible for the horses I take in.  If the match doesn't work for one reason or another the door is open for them to come back but I found myself on the verge of not keeping the horses up to my own standards.  So I really appreciated the extra stall. 

It feels good to take care of animals when you are set up to do so.  The right feed, the right pasture/turnout.  The right shelter.  The right attention and handling.  I got in a couple 'special needs' horses which toppled that balance so my goal is to pare down the number of horses I care for so I can keep that balance in line. 

I reconnected with a former employee of mine.  He was a teen ager when he worked for me cleaning stalls on my boarding stable.  He was new to horses but had a passion for them and a wonderful gentle touch that they responded to so well.  He also had the most amazing seat I ever saw in a beginner rider.  He got up on the horse and just sat so correctly and so naturally.  My riding instructor at the time said men/boys have a different center of gravity and sometimes it just all clicks in the right way for them.  That certainly was the case with Brent. 

Brent has gone on to make horses a career and has been training out west with the Parelli people.  He is working his way up the levels and is now freestyle level 4??  I may have that wrong but anyways I know he is doing amazing.  Anyways he is coming out this spring and taking a couple horses.  I am thrilled because I know he will give them a wonderful home.

So in a sense I am wiping my slate clean (er) in the barn so I can spend more time doing what I enjoy- caring for my horses but also keeping the attention/handling and riding time in balance.  In other words I want to spend more time riding and less time doing barn chores!  

I am doing the same thing in my art.  I want to paint.  The more the better.  The more  I paint the happier I am.  I also think that is working from my strengths but doing what I do best.  I also have enjoyed delving into some creative writing as it pertains to art, horses, healing.   So the challenge is to arrange things so I can get into the mental frame of mind easier and faster to paint while not completely forgetting everything else!  As I write that it sound contradictory.  If painting is a priority that isn't that what you are supposed to do??  Focus on that? 

Focus is such a funny thing for me.  Maybe other artists are like this too.  I can have razor sharp hyperfocus and I can be clear on the other end of the spectrum.  And no I don't want ADHD medication. 

I think most artists know about getting into the zone to paint.   It doesn't just happen... most times.  For instance I can't paint and keep my house clean.  I also can't paint and run errands.  Running errands and driving around sort of ruin me for painting (but I have kids and thats pretty much a necessity).  Going shopping does not mix with art.  Especially a place like Walmart.  I am ruined after a shopping trip there which is why I mainly try to avoid it altogether!   Thankfully my husband can just go in there, get what he wants and get out.  That has NEVER happened to me.  I go in and I feel like I've been swallowed alive!

It may be that rather than having trouble getting INTO the zone it may be more likely I am always 'in the zone' which makes doing all those other things difficult AND it keeps me from painting.   I walk into a store and get visually bombarded with bright florescent lights and row after row of shelves and products and advertising.  I go outside and the shadows in the snow captivate me.  I contemplate values and paint colors of the color of the snow shadow, noticing sharp edges and places to let the lines blur.   I forget where I am parked but in my mind I've painted a beautiful painting already!

Maybe I am like the horses.  I need my environment partitioned off so I can go from one zone to another and not let them all over flow.  Horses know about this -- pasture is for play time and eating.  Riding ring is time to focus.  Trails are fun and adventure.  Stalls are confinement at worst and at best a place to eat in peace away from flies.

Alright then... I am going to start to corral my artistic spirit into the right spaces.  Doing dishes and laundry does not need a creative mind-- it needs a clean sweeper.  A stall mucker and barn manager.  Someone who clears the way so the creative spirit can then be turned out to play.   

If all that fails I may need to call in either a horse whisperer or a maid!


My kids have either been on Christmas break,  in need of transportation, or traveling for the last 3 weeks.  On Tues. they all will be corralled again in their regular classes.  Keeping track of their schedules, social lives, school activities, sports events requires some heavy duty time management of which I do not even know who to call on to model that kind of help!  :)   Maybe a drill Sargent!  For me - not them. 

I have a 3 hour stretch today to paint so I am now going to clear my slate.  And then the reward!  Turn out!!!

Take care!
animal and equine artist
pet portraits


Adrian said…
Nice one mate. Picture of your horse is great

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