When I asked my daughter what she would like as a wedding present, she said she would love a painting of her beloved horse, Mac. That was a year ago. Their first anniversary (May 21st) is fast approaching and I am determined that they will finally receive their wedding gift!
The problem for me has been around the word ‘painting’. I have made several attempts at starting new paintings, only to abandon them along the way. The horse on the canvas just wasn’t coming to life. Since Mac died in 2005, I only have photos to work from and the resulting paintings are flat, academic and boring. (A bit like flogging a dead horse!!) There is so much emotion invested in our memories of this beautiful animal, it was rendering me impotent.
A collage of Memories.
Then I decided I had to approach it from a completely different tack. So I clambered up again into the attic, and leafing through the stacks of old photograph albums, started taking random photos of the images with my iphone. I particularly liked the way light reflected off the now-crinckled, cellophane coverings, adding interesting textures to the new photographs.
I made up a couple of ‘contact sheets’ of all the new images that depicted the mundane, day-to-day things we did with the horse: putting up his hay net; checking him out in the field; taking him out to various events; tying him up to the horse-box; introducing him to the sea for the first time; etc etc. Some of the pictures are upside down, some at a jaunty angle, but together they make up a collection of memories highlighting those special moments we shared in the few years he was in our care.
A Moment Frozen in Time
In the process, there was one particular photograph that stood out. It was a picture of Georgina handing Mac some grass in the field. His nose is touching her outstretched hand, and he looks relaxed and in the peak of his condition. This simple, quiet gesture is very touching. It speaks of that very special bond that exists between man and beast.
I decided to take this picture and make several versions of it, overlaying some with my own artwork using the digital software Apps on my iphone, and then in Photoshop. The block colours not only convey varying states of emotions, but also allude to the jockey ‘silks’ of his former life on the race track. In view of the fact he is no longer physically with us, these colours also represent other states of consciousness on a more spiritual level, just leaving us with the trace of his outline behind.
The attached images are details of some of the hundred or more I have made so far. The challenge now is to combine some of these elements into an artwork that can be finally hung on the wall. With only a few days to go until the all important Anniversary, this particular work in progress needs to be resolved. There is nothing quite like a deadline for focusing the mind. It can be wonderfully motivating.