The cold, that extreme chill that exists below the 0 degrees Fahrenheit mark, creates its own pace. Any task that breezes by on a summer day is compounded by a multitude of steps. Going outside to feed horses requires long underwear, coveralls, scarves, hats, and double gloves. Slogging through the knee-deep snow towing a sled laden with hay creates its own sense of "presence". One must slow down, take each step, and appreciate that step, rather than anxiously view the 25 still needed to get to the gate.
And breath. Breath is frosty, icy, and cutting. Not only does the depth of the snow create a mindfulness to actual place and time, but the inability to draw a deep breath brings up awareness to simple tasks. The horses stand with their heads down, conserving energy and drawing warmth up from deep inside them. The big snows leave them with heaping blankets of snowflakes that would alternately drip, drip, drip from their sides under the angled sun and then freeze as icicles as thick as dreams during the night.
The plant starts to cure, the green leaves which had long ago started to color with red, lose their flexibility and become all sorts of frayed and holy. Their stems become hardy canes, taking the brunt of the chaotic winds that blow through the area.
This painting came about slowly. One of the most difficult questions to answer is "How long does it take to make a painting?" Do I answer in hours spent holding the paintbrush or palette knife? Do I consider the time spent training? The stares and glances and moments spent in front of the work as I determine what the next step is? The constancy of my thoughts about it as I walk my dogs? As in anything that holds great heart, time spent on it becomes "always". The answer can truly be 50 hours, one month, two years, or 41 years, as the case may be. This one? It took ... a while.
There are such tender parts in this painting, were the plant appears to disappear again, where it weaves in and out of the layers, and I wanted to retain that lack of certainty. I wanted it to stand on its own, but not completely. In life, its a hardy fellow, but it still needs diversity to survive. In the painting, it did as well.
I spent some time recalling that winter, the horses, present but drawn into themselves. Heads down, their backs rolling under the depths of snow. And, the ever-present revelations and hidden bits of the world.
And then, it came. After whatever time had needed to pass and ideas had floated through my mind, it came. I understood what I needed to finish this piece. I looked back through my photos of years past and found it. What of today will lead to an answer tomorrow?
plant and horse,
movements of my hand,
the brushes and palette knives,
...well, it is in the Yellowstone Art Museum (YAM) for their 52 Annual Art Auction. This is dear to me in many parts, but most of which are my stories of going with my grandma to see her friend that worked as a YAM docent. I walked those hallways hung with art, both before and after their renovation and their change from the Yellowstone Art Center to the Yellowstone Art Museum, enthralled with a space of art and for art. As a student, I spent many days through the years viewing and studying the variety of exhibits throughout the years. I was part of a team that built an ice block sculpture one year for the auction, and I helped teach a Saturday kids art class. Memories through the layers of time.
Last night, January 24, was the opening of the show. I participated in the Quick Draw/Quick Finish event, and I will also attend the Artist Meet and Greet on March 6. The pieces will hang until March 7, at which point they will sell during the live and silent auctions. More information can be found at https://www.artmuseum.org/exhibition/yellowstone-art-auction-52/. I would like to say that they take phone bids, and I reckon this could be accommodated.