Friday, October 26, 2012

Back to the Barn

I've been involved with horses since I was a little kid, and the scent of a horse barn will instantly bring up many emotions.
I spent long happy hours riding, however the fragility of the animals and their varied fates also can bring waves of heart break.

As soon as I could drive, I began working with Thoroughbreds at the race track, and continued to do so all through college, on class breaks.
Year round, beginning at 5am., seven days a week.  Great plumes of frosty breath in the winter led to splashing hose baths in the summer to wash off the salty sweat.

The pageantry and glamour of the races was mixed with gritty hard work, occasional brutality and even death.  My fellow workers were a fascinating lot that abounded with 
Damon Runyonesque characters.

In leafing through old sketchbooks, I found a poem that had been written to me in college.
It must have been important at the time, although it was scrawled on the back of an envelope, I taped it inside and painted all around it.  Sadly, I din't even remember who wrote it to me, but the sentiment seemed appropriate to this piece.  I printed the scanned image on silk organza, and stitched it over part of the image.
Lower down, the original stereoscopic postcard appears, also on organza.
The horse head itself is simply sketched with thread on hemp and shaded with various neutral pigments.  I tried to make him noble, yet also remote, the way that horses are to me today.

This is the notebook page with the envelope if it's easier to read.


  1. Beautiful work, Betty. I'm definitely getting a foggy morning, haunting impression from this piece. You've captured the fragility of the horse with the muted colors and organza overlays.

  2. I especially like the subtle, ethereal quality you've achieved...just like a long ago memory. Beautiful.

  3. How lovely that we can all share memories very dear to us, through this challenge. The colour palette is so appropriate for the lens of looking back in time.

  4. Betty, this is a really neat piece! I love the way you've created this "memory" with sketch and've said so much with so few strokes. You have a beautiful way with word, too. BTW - some lovely horse farms near where you grew up. I used to love driving through the country up there.