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!!!
animal and equine artist