This is the first in a series sharing some of the more interesting stories behind a few of my painting’s, the tantalizing tales of how certain horses end up immortalized in paint on my easel!
I was recently looking through some prints and found one of a favorite piece… which led me to fondly reminiscing. About four years ago I was volunteering with a local horse rescue, Heart of Tucson, getting a generous helping of the highs and lows of working with animals in some form of distress. I was there shortly after a pair of mustangs; a flashy palomino mare and her buckskin colt, were rescued a trip to the slaughter house.
Christina, the mare, was just about as feral as they come… no one could enter her corral without her charging them, teeth bared and very just being all around scary. She was like the frightful but thrilling wild horse image so many of us grew up with in books and our horse filled imaginations… but very real.
Over the first couple months she settled down a bit, though still unapproachable for haltering and of course grooming… her rich golden coloring was muted by a scruffy winter coat, and her creamy white mane had formed into dreadlocks that would make a Rastafarian proud. Fascinated with her and her colt Kawliga, I took many pictures, but it was one sunny afternoon that I saw her standing staring off into the sunset – a moment where she was framed by the setting sun with a backlit luminescence that had to be captured in paint.
I rarely know at the taking of a photo if it will end up being used for a painting… I take as many as I can in the hopes that a few will be of use. But in this case I knew as I took the photo that it would be on my easel soon. The result was Natural Beauty, an oil painting that ended up getting into an exhibit in Nevada, ironically called “Horse HeART Show” where it garnered an award and an immediate sale!
Meanwhile, to everyone’s surprise, Christina took a decided liking to a new volunteer, Kim, who ended up being the only one the mare allowed in her corral to care for her. Kim eventually adopted Christina, and continued to patiently work with her, even if it was just sitting in her pen for hours till Christina felt comfortable enough to approach her.
The two formed a unique bond that now, over 4 years later, is stronger than ever. Christina is now a beloved trail horse and companion. She and Kim are practically inseparable, and their connection is apparent even in photos. Gone is the wild look of fear, replaced by a soft, sweet expression that I got a glimpse of that evening in February back in 2010. Granted, it was a quiet moment where she was far enough away to not be threatened by me – but it was enough distance to catch a peek into her future, the best one imaginable!