Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Horse Drawing: "Dutch"

Dutch was a beautiful purebred Friesian gelding at the barn where I boarded. I've never been so close to such a stunning, majestic horse. I have a real soft spot for Friesians - besides the fact that my mare is a Friesian Cross - I think they are just incredible horses. Powerful, graceful, beautiful movers and sweet, gentle dispositions- they are my dream horse.

Dutch was all that and more, and I loved just seeing his beautiful face whenever I would come to the barn.

It was a real shock when I was out of town to get an email from the Barn Owner, Shawnee, saying that Dutch had colicked over the weekend and after exhausting all possibilities he tragically had to be humanely euthanized. I just couldn't even believe it. So freaking sad! My heart breaks for his owner and I can't even begin to imagine the amount of grief she is feeling.

So when Shawnee asked if she could commission me to do a drawing of him of course I said yes. She had snapped a pic on her iphone, and while it wasn't the best photo to do a drawing from, I was able to work with it.
photo of Dutch
I had to sort of wing it with the right side of his face, so much of it was in shadow in the photo, but since I didn't want to do the entire background of the drawing dark I did my best to show some detail while also conveying that right is in shadow.
8x10" graphite on paper
copyright Kacy Michelle 2012
I'm still trying to figure out the best way to take photos of my drawings, so here are some close-ups so you can see some details:

Close up detail of the eye
Close up of the nose
I would have liked to have spent more time with it, and really figured out a better way to deal with the right side of the drawing, but I had limited time as his owner was moving to another state and Shawnee needed to get it framed still. I have a tendency to overcriticize and drag my heels on the last 10% of a piece - especially when its of a pet of someone I know (I get really insecure that I'll let them down because I know how important the animal was to them and how a peice of art can never compare to the vitality the animal had in life), so it was probably better that I had to get it finished quick. No time to psyche myself out about it.  

I didn't get to see it framed but I guess it turned out really nice (Shawnee had it matted and custom framed with rustic barn wood and room for one of his shoes to tacked to it.) I heard his owner loved it and that it meant more to her than we could know. She emailed me a week later to tell me thank you and that she was very touched by it.

Always wonderful to hear that someone is pleased and I'm happy we were able to bring her some small measure of comfort during this sad time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mega Tack Sale: My Steal of a Deal!

Snohomish County 4-H's yearly consignment tack sale at the Evergreen fairgrounds is monumental. There's a reason why people start lining up there early - you can find some really good deals! (Serious shoppers bring wheelbarrows and wagons to pile their stuff into.) And its not like some small garage sale - it is the fairground show arena FULL of stuff. Everything and anything to do with horses is here. 200 tables full of everything you can imagine - riding tack, horse care stuff, barn stuff, books; benches covered with saddles (Western and English); racks of riding clothes from outdoor gear to bedazzled western show jackets. Trailers, carts, harnesses, jumping equipment - you name it, you can find it here!

And since everything to do with horses is expensive (ugh!) - when you can save some money and get the stuff you need, it makes braving the crowds and cold weather worth it!

So I was right there with the crowd - with my list in hand, my plan of attack ready. We were a little late in getting there, about 20 minutes before the doors opened and already there were probably about 100 people in line. I knew that you had to move fast and prioritize what you want to grab (or work as a team with friends) because good things go fast.

Luckily my list was a lot of odds and ends and smaller items, I didn't need anything too major like a saddle or blanket because it can be hard to carry around the big stuff while shopping for more. And the blanket tables are always swarmed (for non-horsey people, a new winter horse blanket can be anywhere from $100 - $400 and up, and at the tack sale they can be priced super cheap around $25-50.)

I came prepared this year with 2 bags to put my finds into, so I could shop hands free, and I brought my horse savvy friend, Jean, to help divide and conquer. Plus she has a good eye to help ascertain the quality stuff from junk. A new acquaintance/boarder at the barn, Amy, met us there and also helped me find some stuff. (By the time I hit the saddle pad section a lot of the good stuff was gone but then I hear my name and Amy's victoriously holding 3 trail saddle pads in her hand that she grabbed for me while looking for some dressage pads for herself. Sweet!)

It took some finagling to squeeze in to look at the bits, and the saddle accessories tables (leathers, irons, saddlebags, etc). And there was some definite jostling by the halters and leads - but all in all shopping went pretty smoothly and I got just about everything I was looking for.

Jean snapped a pic of the chaos, and you can see the line to pay forming.
This is a view from about halfway down the middle - so only a view of half the chaos.
The line to pay was pretty long - I think I waited about a half hour? - but overall the Snohomish County 4-H does a great job of quickly processing and cataloguing the items as you check out. (the 4-H takes 18% commission which helps fund a lot of their programs, so you get to leave feeling a little guilt-free, knowing your helping out).

I ended walked away with a lot of goodies - all in good condition - for about $150:

 - a big grooming tote box (I have a bag one right now and it isn't big enough)
 - a new curry comb
 - big mane & tail comb
 - a bot fly knife
 - a rope halter
 - a head bumper (its like a soft helmet for my horse to use in trailers)
 - 2 all-purpose saddle pads, one with pockets for trail riding
- a 6' cotton lead
 - a 14' lead line similar to a Clinton Anderson or Parelli lead (which sell new for $50-80; I got it for $10!)
 - a Weatherbeeta cooler/blanket (new its like $80, I got it for $25)
-  stirrup irons (new they're $40-50+, I got them for $20)
 - black stirrup leathers (got 'em for $5! for this type, new they can be $40-50!)
 - a tail sock
 - D-ring snaffle bit
 - a helmet cover

Got everything home, bleached/washed cleaned, and I'm very happy with my steals. Heeee heee heeee (gloaty chuckle).

Hard to think what will be on my list next  year - seems like I've got just about everything and couldn't need much more.

Famous last words, right? :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Morning Horse Hangover

Had a great weekend! But unfortunately most of it was spent doing horsey stuff much - including hitting up the Snohomish County 4-H Tack Sale (more to come on that adventure) - so my husband and projects got a little neglected.

Getting my art bag ready for a private lesson later today and found this quick horse sketch I did awhile ago. I really like the mouth on this one - horse muzzles can become comical or cartoony really easily, so I'm always happy when it turns out looking more realistic.

Friday, February 24, 2012

On My Nightstand: My Name is Memory

Book: My Name is Memory
Author: Ann Brashares
My Name Is Memory

Publisher's description:
Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has "the memory", the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he's previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel's unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now "Lucy" in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together

My two cents:
I picked up this book from the library on a whim (yes, the ol' "suck em in with a pretty cover" ploy worked) and couldn't put it down. (Neat cover right?)

This book is enchanting, and exciting, a little heartbreaking and absolutely maddening at times.

"I have fallen in love, and she is the one who endures. I killed her once and died for her many times and I still have nothing to show for it. I always search for her; I always remember her. I carry the hope that someday she will remember me." - My Name Is Memory, Ann Brashares

There's an intensity to this book that really grips you. I'll admit I'm a sucker for star-crossed soul-mate stories, but that's not why I loved this book. (And actually I went from loving it, to hating it because of the ending...until I read that its part of a planned trilogy! THANK GAWD. Okay, ending forgiven. And I love it again.)

I wouldn't classify this book as an "epic" love story - but its a nice love story. I feel like this book only just touches on the surface of their relationship (I mean after all the majority of the book is about the poor guy's search for a thousand years and a hundred lifetimes to be reunited with her.) It really is more about their characters seperate struggles - Daniel's struggle of life after life, and the meaning of each, and the search for her - and Lucy's emotional struggle to find out who she really is - but all of that makes for some great reading.

Their relationship doesn't blossom long or big enough for me to get really captivated with their love story (I was also frustrated with how the ending felt rushed - let me enjoy the climax for goodness sake! - and how I didn't really understand why the antagonist was so darned bad....he needed more depth imho) But not all books can be a 1,000 page epic Diana Gabaldon book.

But since the good outweighed the bad by so much, and the good parts were really really good (there's a side character who I just love and could read a whole book about!) I'll let the underdeveloped parts slide. Because overall I enjoyed the ride and the story is pretty powerful. The different time periods and whole world of reincarnation that Brashares creates is fascinating. The moments of sorrow, friendship, loss, love and danger are so compelling you can't put it down. At times its downright depressing (the loneliness, egad!) but you keep reading to find the hope, and because its such a beautiful, tragic world to be a part of.
I mean its a special book that opens with a prom scene like a typical tween novel, but then leaves the reader really thinking over the age old question: what is the whole freaking meaning of life?

I give this book a solid B. Maybe a B+ because I'm in a lot happier mood now knowing there's a sequel.(If there wasn't a sequel planned, and it ended the way it ended, I'd be giving it a big fat C---.)

If you check it out, let me know your thoughts. :)

Happy Reading!

PS - People keep comparing it to Time Traveler's Wife and you can't do that. Apples and oranges! I loved TTW - great book. But in TTW, he traveled through one lifetime and visited his love at different ages for her and him. In My Name Is Memory, he lives multiple lives and is always looking for her and isn't always so lucky to find her - not to mention the fact that her soul can't recognize him ever. (Or can it...? hee hee. Read it!). Both sort of have that tragic, can love defy thing going on - but very different books.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hello New Blog!

I'm Kacy, and this is my new blog. Its going to be about my myriad of obsessions: purty things, art I'm working on, and cool things I can get my hands on: recipes, photos, crafty projects, girly fripperies and home decor stuff. Not to mention there will probably be ubiquitous nerdom about books and animals that are adorable. Like our cats. And my horse. 

Welcome to my blog!
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