I skipped the annual Michigan Horse Council’s Stallion Expo last year when I decided to go to the Kentucky Reining Finals instead. Kentucky was a bit much of a journey so I returned to Michigan State University’s ag pavilion this year for the Stallion Expo. Glad I did because it was one of the best shows I’ve ever chosen to set up my portrait booth, which by the way, continues to build its inventory of demo paintings and small inexpensive table items. Here’s a look at this year’s version–
This is a huge show, and I’d have to be standing on top of at least a 15-foot ladder to get any kind of photo accurately suggesting the size of it. What was so special about this year (and I confirmed this by talking with some vendors who weren’t selling anything at all related to my product) was the quality of the crowd. The people were friendly, there were LOTS of them–lined up to enter at 10AM on a Friday morning!–and they stopped to converse, discuss and inquire. I could barely keep my business card tray full–every time I looked over the table at it, it was half empty again. I think the level of interest surpassed anything I’ve experienced in the 7 years I’ve been doing this.
I always do some work on Aquabord™ watercolors at my little table squished behind my main table while I’m at these shows. I think that doing actual painting on the scene accomplishes a couple of things. One, people who may be a little reluctant to deal with real or imaginary sales pressure can feel more comfortable looking things over without having the seller staring them in the face. And two, lots of people are just interested in getting at least a glimpse of how art is made, so they will hang out and watch and ask questions. Since I’m using watercolor, I can stop and interact with people in the instant I perceive that they would like some attention. Although my eyes are on my work, my ears (if I could just swivel them like a horse!) are always listening to what’s happening in front of the booth.
Here are the two Aquabord™ paintings I completed over the three days at the Expo. There is one more that’s not quite finished yet, so I’ll save that one for another post.
Speaking of Gypsy Vanners, there were several stallions participating in the stallion presentations this year, and here are a couple of them.
I have to mention that I picked up an unusual commission at this show, a bit of a “mixed media” project. My client wanted a pen and ink drawing from a closeup photo of her horse’s eye, which was a fine idea in and of itself. But it occurred to me that it could be really enhanced if we just added a splash of watercolor on the eye itself, and left everything around it in pen and ink. I had to do a tiny bit of experimentation to make sure my paper would hold watercolor without running the ink and I found the appropriate answer quite quickly. So I will be starting right in on that and will, of course, keep you all “posted”.
Now a little teaser. For my followers wondering about the fate of Skypads2, I can tell you it is finished but I don’t have a presentable photo of it yet. I have decided after much viewing and reviewing that Skypads1 needs to be reworked, and I know how I’m going to do it. Stay tuned for a future post…