A couple of months ago I posted a little winter scene Aquabord™ of Roz and Stonie, which was a gift from our barn manager to Roz after she lost her beloved Stonie earlier this year. Since then Roz has adopted a rescue Saddlebred named Valor. You always take your chances when you adopt a rescue animal because usually there is no way of knowing its history and whatever weirdnesses may have resulted from its journey between treasured pet and rescued animal status. I have to say when I met Valor I knew instantly that this was a wonderful horse, and he was going to be the perfect partner for Roz. He’s never been ridden, was only trained to drive–which is exactly what Roz wanted. She ground drove him through the woods a couple of days ago and he was flawless. I’m betting he’s every bit as good when hooked up to an actual cart.
The thing about him that immediately tipped me off is his connection to humans. He doesn’t even care if he’s never met you before–when you come up to the pasture fence he marches right over to greet you. And not because he’s looking for treats. He just sort of wants to know what you’re up to, and get a few pats as a bonus. Never pushy, just curious. So when Roz asked me to do a double portrait of Stonie and Valor, she already had an idea in mind for the painting. I’m always up for a challenge, and this one will be interesting because I’ve never done anything like it. Valor is showing off his Saddlebred action, and Stonie will be watching out for him in a kind of ghostly, misty vision. I took an enormous quantity of photos of Valor trotting and cantering (he was, as we expected, the ultimate in cooperation!) with fall color trees that surround the pasture as a backdrop. My plan, after looking at available photos of Stonie, is to have Valor looking slightly away from the viewer, and into what could be a reflection of himself but is actually Stonie. Valor in full light, Stonie in mist.
I’ve completed the pencil drawing except for one aspect of it. When I showed Roz the Photoshop mockup, I assumed she wanted Stonie’s halter gone. But she couldn’t decide and thought she would go off and take a survey of her friends at the barn: Halter or no halter!! I haven’t heard back yet, so I sketched in the halter anyway. If it turns out the vote was neigh (nay) I can always just erase it because I’m going to be working on the background first this time around. Should give her enough time to tally results!