The Mud Horn

Redbubble

Are you watching the Mandelorian? Did you see the finale? Man. This is what I want when I start into a Star Wars story. It’s so grounded. So inspiring. It’s like…Firefly meets Star Wars.

I’ve enjoyed a handful of Star Wars novels, none of which are canon anymore. Most of them by Timothy Zahn. James Corey (the pen name for a duo) has a couple good ones also.

I predict that soon, the Mudhorn signet will have almost as broad a reach as Boba Fett’s signet. Well. Ok. Maybe not, since you have to have Disney + in order to see the show and fall in love.

But it *should* because it’s that good. So I pretty much immediately drew a Mud Horn signet in ink (prismacolor) and put it on Redbubble so I could stalk their sales and buy myself something. It’s a brilliant plot.

One horse after another

This fall I’ve had the opportunity to ride with a friend who is a horse trainer professionally. She has a wide variety of horses in her barn, and it has been so much fun to ride different horses again.

When I was a kid, mucking stalls in exchange for lessons, I jumped at the chance to ride every single horse that came through the little barn. There were only 4 stalls, but 2 of them were borders and changed out every couple years. I rode every single horse that came through that heavy sliding door except for one, who came during my last year of college. I was 8 hours away.

There were some horses I bonded with more than others over the years, particularly the one I knew the longest and was paid to ride in the frigid winters–but riding different animals was so incredibly valuable for me as a rider.

I’ve been riding Midas for 10 years. 8 of those years, its been almost exclusively Midas. There is something different and special about working with one horse for a long time. But the value I’ve found in a variety of mounts is incredible.

Horses are different. Nothing forces you to learn how to communicate–I mean, RIDE–like facing someone else’s presuppositions head on. Because that’s what most horse behavior is, really, a presupposition. A worldview that has been taught to them by the other humans in their life.

One horse has been systematically taught by past riders that she doesn’t get an opinion, but she has to go fast. She doesn’t understand medium or slow, so you have to ask gently, patiently, consistently.

Another has been trained for the race track and doesn’t know how to stand still or put his head down.

Another has been trained with Rolkur and just…tucks his chin…but has no fight at all and not a mean bone in his body, doing everything asked, whether you meant to ask or not.

When you ride them, you have to unravel the way they frame the world, and reframe it for them. It takes time. It is SO much fun. Nothing teaches you what your body communicates to a horse at the most basic level like riding different horses teaches. You learn how you have to adjust the height of your hands based on the shape of the horse and the discipline and what you’re trying to accomplish at that moment. You learn how to use your legs–the roles of your upper thigh vs your calf–things you may have already known, but now they are vitally important every day, and can’t just be auto pilot because different horses need more or less of different aids. You learn to use your breath–a shockingly useful tool.

I guess that’s what it is. Riding a variety of horses makes you think, and be aware, and also makes it easier to think and be aware. I love it.

It makes me better.

It makes me a better rider.

galleries

At the end of August I collected the last of my pieces from the Firehouse Gallery and moved them all to–plus a lot more original pieces–to the Leesburg Town Hall. I was in such a rush I didn’t really get pictures of everything once they were on the walls–but they DO look good I think.

All the pieces are for sale, of course. I actually last minute switched out one of the works (my Blue Ridge Mountains) just so I could say that. The Blue Ridge stays with me!

I think one of the hardest things for me to do, as a artist, is put the brush down and let a piece be finished. I did that with the Blue Ridge, and it is just so pretty.

pure ultramarine

Here is the one picture I have of the arrangement in the town hall lobby:

It was also cool, then night we held an opening during First Friday Leesburg, to see so many of my products on display. Most of them owned by my very supportive mother–but some of them are mine.

I have these gorgeous painted boots you can see in the back there–not for riding anymore, if ever–perfect for a Kentucky Derby Party, or maybe a Steeple chase tailgate. I have a couple more pairs needing painting, I should probably paint them all up and then list them all at once instead of dripping them out into the world.

Also, you should know: Product pictures are a thing. There are moments when I think, “OH! I can totally do that.” and others, usually when I am holding a camera, when I realize that it is MUCH harder than it looks. Hats off to all you product picture people. Good work!

The exhibit runs to the end of Nov, you should swing by the Leesburg Town Hall if you happen through Northern VA. The downtown is incredibly cute, lots of great food and fun shops, plus, you know, this really awesome art exhibit by this artist you follow on the internet.

I’ve already started thinking about Christmas and I’ll be planning out time to paint. If you’re interested in a commission piece, they are shockingly affordable and make amazing presents. If you aren’t sure about something, just ask me.

You can hit me up here, or go straight to my Etsy shop and place an order there.

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gauche tigers

I decided to investigate gauche. I was curious what made it different from watercolor, when most people say, “Oh, it’s like watercolors” when you ask what it is.

The binder is different than watercolor, so it’s just…different…more translucent? More…luminous.

tigre!

I borrowed some of my mother in law’s gauche, and I’ve been enjoying playing with it. Though, apparently it makes me want to paint tigers because that’s all I’ve done.

Yaaaaawn

I’m enjoying how different it is…and how the same. I’ve used the gauche for a base, and then finished the tigers with my brush pens to get really stark lines for the stripes. On the second tiger I also relied on masking fluid. Well….experimented with masking fluid.

I feel like masking fluid is a really interesting tool, and I’m enjoying messing around with it.

Oh, did you notice? I’m still trying to make a tiger half as awesome as my glamour leopard. I’m getting closer. Actually, both of these tigers came out pretty awesome, but are a different medium than the leopard so they still don’t go. I just forget about colored pencils. they still exist. I own them, even.

So how is everyone? September flashed past me at top speed. I cannoooooot believe October is this week.

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How To Train Your Dragon

totes adorbs

I did not expect to love How To Train Your Dragon. I really don’t remember why I watched it at all, who I watched it with, or anything like that. But wow, it was so good. The story, the music…

Oh, the music. I bought the Lord of the Rings Soundtracks because I adored the movies. I bought Prince of Egypt because who doesn’t want to crank up When You Believe or Jethro’s song? The Incredibles, Star Wars…classic soundtracks that I enjoyed listening to…But the soaring tones of HTTYD by John Powell are something else entirely. Rapturous. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so enthralled by music without words.

I was actually poised to dislike HTTYD. I was sort of braced for something like Shrek, which I only sort of enjoyed. I mean, the hero was named Hiccup and had a scraggly voice. I was prepared for a cynical story that was all about tearing down heroic ideals. That is definitely, completely, not what I got. Instead, it was a story about true heroism. An actually useful personal journey in understanding, true value, and sacrifice.

Hiccup’s name didn’t change. His voice didn’t change. But his perception of himself, his father, and of course dragons, did. Astrid’s perception changed. Stoic’s perception changed.

Love really did conquer all.

HTTYD2 was also excellent. Possibly even better than HTTYD. I loved how they built on the story, Hiccup coming to terms with how, though he has Toothless and Astrid, he’s still him, and still the chief’s son. I love the story of him learning that he doesn’t have to be exactly like his father to be a good chief–but being like his father in terms of love, forgiveness, and bravery–that is what makes a good chief. I loved that the story didn’t center on the romance between him an Astrid, you are just shown a real, loving, growing, relationship. The Stoic/Valka relationship so incredibly poignant in the few scenes they had together. I remember sitting in theaters with tears pouring down my face going “YOU DIDNT WARN ME DREAMWORKS! I DID NOT EXPECT TO BAWL AT THIS MOVIE.”

HTTYD3…somehow just wasn’t what I wanted. I think…it felt like they backtracked Hiccup’s emotional and character journey from the previous movie, and…it just…fell flat. I could forgive the antics and goofy humor clearly aimed at the younger audience–though Snotlout’s (right?) obsession with Valka was a little bizarre. Part way through Hiccup’s character arc was sort of designated as “who are you without Toothless, who has become your crutch?”

–except Toothless wasn’t a crutch in the other two movies, he was a catalyst. Did I miss something by not watching the kid’s show Race to the Edge?

We all know and love Toothless, but having the Light Fury resist Hiccup’s friendship so entirely, we don’t really get to befriend her either. Instead, it feels like we married off a dear friend to a harpy who hates us even though she doesn’t know us at all, and we’re left trying to understand why he loves her. I mean…we don’t even know her name. Who is this dragon? She…seems…nice? She’s…pretty?

It’s also really sad that the first movie’s conclusion that man and dragon can live together in peace is reversed in this film–that only SOME people can handle it, and because not everyone can, they don’t get to keep their pets. It might be realistic, but that isn’t what I wanted. I wanted hope for a better future.

A big pro to the story, though, is seeing Hiccup and Astrid continue their real relationship like real people. They grow up, get married, lead the clan, and have children together. Never flagging in their commitment to one another. Talk about relationship goals.

The music was great again, but since I loved the story less I have less of a connection with the music.

Anyway, I still love HTTYD. The characters, the story, and of course the dragons. In particular Toothless and Stormfly. I drew these for practice, working off a variety of images in Pinterest. I think they came out pretty adorable.

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