How I Became a Full Time Equine Artist

The Day My Intuition Spoke 

“Horses are a part of my breath, an extension of myself” is my go to quote when talking about my art. So you may be surprised to hear that it was horses, more so the lifestyle around them, that I walked away from. It was a day I remember better than parts of yesterday. In that cold, dim, old arena in the dead of winter, I stood stiff, completely uninspired and empty inside, lunging a horse round and round – for someone else. My senses seared this day  – the song playing on the grimy dial radio, the bay mare’s rhythmic breath, the dry dust of the arena, the dull quiet of being alone with her in that empty space. That was the defining moment when my intuition took over and it was the last time I went round and round.

I remain deeply grateful for that day of clarity while lunging the bay mare. With a pivotal moment of self awareness, when for the first time, I truly listened to my gut. It wasn’t quite cold enough that day to have that solitary tear running down my cheek freeze, but it did freeze that moment in time into my memory.

The Toll

Having scratched out a living in the equine and agriculture industry from the time I left home at seventeen until that pivotal day of going round and round thirty plus years later, the demanding lifestyle took its toll on me mentally, physically and spiritually. To say the least, I was burnt out. It was a life of starting colts, feeding horses, cleaning thousands of box stalls, breaking horses to drive, fixing fence, building fence, baling hay, foaling mares, halter breaking and treating horses that wanted to paw your haircut off. You name it, I did it. It wasn’t all bad however, as I did gather a lifetime of knowledge and experience while working for some wonderful people that remain dear friends to this day. And I was around some brilliant and very talented horses, a few of which I was lucky enough to call my own. From driving a six horse hitch of Clydesdales to riding horses with exceptional bloodlines and talent, assisting in surgery after surgery at the equine vet clinic, standing with horses as they took their last breath, and sitting with foals as they took their first. The good definitely outweighed the bad, however, the feeling of discontent remained.

The Resonating Voice

With little else to fall back on, I allowed my intuition to lead me out of that uninspiring arena and into the next chapter of my life. I literally hung up my reins and picked up the paint brushes full time. Proceeding into my new commitment of being a full time artist, there were moments of course where I didn’t always listen fully to my instinct. But with a few knowledge bumps along the way, what I know for sure is this: I require myself to stop and listen to the whisper inside my head, or to feel that pit in my stomach left by someone or something not quite right. No matter how big or small, good or bad, I stop and really listen. This is now my number one protocol in life, which is also fully transferable to my easel.

Learning to become more selective in my artwork, looking for specific images that deeply resonate with me is a fundamental part of my process before picking up the brushes. It is my deep acknowledgement to the lifetime of my equine connection that becomes the start of every new day in the studio. My experience drives my instinct of knowing instantly while looking through thousands of reference photos what is right for my next blank canvas. So when you ask me how long it took me to paint that piece, the truth is – it took my entire life. I am grateful for having gone round and round, and more so for learning to listen to my intuition. For it is always right.

Life most certainly gets easier in every arena when you learn to rely on your intuition. It might well start with a shout, but with pause and practice to listen to your gut, it turns into a gentle whisper. Living life on your own terms makes for a purposeful life that sends you in your desired direction, once you stop going round and round.

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