From my trip west with a layover at the Burns, Oregon BLM. This painting began as a quick pencil sketch, was then given a watercolor wash and lightly touched up with some subtle acrylic and gesso highlights.
Most of the horses at the Eastern Oregon Bureau of Land Management are smallish with long manes and tails, thick necks, and tall and delicate hooves. Their lower half seems oddly out of proportion with their stocky body yet when spooked they somehow move with the grace and agility of deer. These animals are related to Kiger mustangs, descended from Iberian horses brought by Spanish explorers in the 16th century.
When I sit down to draw, a few of the brave ones came forward cautiously sniffing the ground, eyes never unlocking from mine. Their curious expression seems to say, "I know I shouldn’t trust you but I must see what you are doing with that stick and pad." While I sketch, a succession of nostrils stretch beyond the fence rails and sniff at my pad. They drag in air as I hold out my hand, and one cautiously moves towards my fingertips. He checks for predator odors then closes his eyelids contentedly and I marvel at this connection to something that was so recently wild.
Each year approximately 30,000 wild horses are rounded up throughout the country, assigned a number, freeze branded, and housed at a BLM facility. The processing stage can last a year before adoption or auction. As their roaming land dwindles either due to development or due cattle industry leasing, more of our wild horses--this country's heritage and national treasure--are lost. Many organizations are working toward legislation that would limit round-up quotas, protect habitat, and introduce birth control programs. When you purchase a painting, drawing or print, I donate 10% to a non profit organization that works to preserve and protect wild horses.
I was born in England, grew up in California and spent most of my adult life in San Francisco. In the 1990s I earned an MFA from University of Michigan in Printmaking, worked as a college art teacher, and then a computer game artist. In the early part of this decade I grew restless and moved around the east coast trying out cities the way some people try on new shoes. I discovered that there are simpler ways to change one’s scenery than move someplace new, and moved once again back to SF where I live. I now try to get out of the city whenever I can to travel and explore.