Friday, May 30, 2008

Le Cadeau du Cheval, The Horse Gift-update

I thought I was going to work on my panel tonight, came into the little studio and here was Scarlet, working away on my project! See that white paint on her tail?

Yes, I know my studio is a mess, but you ought to see how nice my yard looks! Grass is mowed, flowers are blooming....the donkeys are happy...:)

Actually, Scarlet is laying in some mountains. She's about to finish up some detail work, put in some grass, some rocks on the mountains. Wish she'd hurry up and finish this for me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Photo of Bird on Alkali Flat, near Power, Montana

We drove to Power, Montana a couple days ago, to see some old vehicles that will be auctioned off in June. Took a wrong turn and roamed around the country side for quite a while, taking pictures. We found this one legged bird on an alkali flat. The actual photo is very clear and sharp, you can see the twinkle in this bird's eye...

I don't know what kind of bird this is, but he was so cute, standing there on one leg, counterbalanced by his long beak.

Email Meif you have questions, or want to inquire about purchasing a painting.

Remember, you can find horse art, Western art, Mule and Donkey art
wildlife art, cow art, and animal paintings, my Montana Photosfor sale on my website.

Le Cadeau du Cheval, The Horse Gift, wip2

Feeling my way into this one. Each painting is an experiment for me and this one is going that way more than others have.

I'm getting a feeling of sun's rays and mountains....we'll have to see what happens next!

There's a lot of work to do on what I have here, I've been playing with the paint...the foal is to dark, the mare is two different colors....But you might as well see it as it's happening..the good, the bad and the ugly!

Here's my theory, I came up with this idea, now I'll find some photos in my files that help me bring it to life. I found several back lit horses in photos today, they'll help. Then I'll dig into my reference photos of mountains, perhaps add some sun rays...

Those are all the thoughts floating around in my head concerning this panel for the Horse Gift mural.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Horse Gift panel WIP beginning.

I've been thinking since learning of this project, about the gifts horses give us.

My horse Class is such a wonderful mare, who's produced some beautiful babies who compete in the sport horse world.

A "right minded" mare gives us so many things. First of all, she gives us her body and her well being to produce a foal. After the foal is born, a good mare, teaches that baby tolerance, patience, curiosity, friendliness, more virtues than I can extol!

So my panel for Le Cadeau du Cheval mural is all about the good mare, and the gifts she gives to us and her babies.

As soon as I saw my panel, I knew what I wanted to paint on it. It's taken me a while to get started, but I think I'm off and running now.
Donna Ridgway
Email Meif you have questions, or want to inquire about purchasing a painting.

Remember, you can find horse art, Western art, Mule and Donkey art
wildlife art, cow art, and animal paintings, my Montana Photosfor sale on my website.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Big Brown, will he win the Triple Crown?

Like most people who love horses, I've followed the run for the Triple Crown. Some years, I'm very "into" it and learn all I can about the horses, some years it sneaks up on me and I don't pay much attention until all of a sudden, one horse comes out of the pack. Which is what happened to me this year with Big Brown.

I didn't see the Derby. I would have watched the Preakness with trepidation if I'd known about Big Brown's feet. I was going along in blissful ignorance, enjoying the race until I began hearing comments about his hooves. Do a google search for "big brown feet legs" and a lot will turn up.

Kind of a different subject, but I once had a little Quarter Horse mare who could run. There were some farmer races in a summer follow field about four miles from my home, so I rode my horse over to the races. I'd lined up a jockey to ride her in these races. For once in my life, I wanted to watch the action, instead of being in the thick of it.

I'd ridden this mare in several community relay races, and she was known for her speed.

When the starting gun went off, I got so excited, I was yelling at the top of my lungs for Mary Lou to run. This race track didn't have a fence around it, the spectators were the fence. Of course I was right up front, at a point which was about the middle of the race. Mary Lou was way ahead of the pack, and out of all the people lining the track, she spied me! She came across the track, headed straight for me.

The jockey was riding for all he was worth to pull her straight and take her on down the track. Soon as I saw her head for me, I had to quit yelling her name and hide in the crowd.

At the beginning of the race, I'd told the jockey, get her out front and keep her there, she can do this. The rest of the field was horses from the track, thoroughbreds and quarter horses. In spite of cutting across the field, she kept her lead and won the race by a couple of lengths.

At that time in my life, I was caught up in the romance of racing, didn't even realize there was another side to it all.

In the same race where my mare had won, another mare broke her leg. She stood at the finish line, with her front left dangling below the knee. My elation at winning the race was gone because I can't bear to see an animal suffering like that. I was sick to my stomach. It took 15 minutes to find a gun in the crowd so the horse could be put down.

When the day was over, I went to collect my winnings. The guy who was putting on the races said, "Donna, I can't give you the prize money even though your horse won the race." I said, "Why the hell can't you? She won fair and square, right in front of all these people." He said, "Well, you know most of these horses here came off the track. Most of them are _so_and__so_____'s horses." I said, "So what?" He said, "Well, there was a lot of money riding on this, I have to give one of them the prize. They did all the betting here on their horses."

So even in a little country race, in a summer follow field, the rules of money apply to racing. I later learned, the mare who had the broken leg? She'd broken it once before in her life and it had been patched up. She should never have been racing again. Let alone to race on a summer follow field where the dirt is heavy and soft, full of rocks....

I guess you know, I rode the four miles home that day, sadder and wiser than when I'd started the day...and very happy my mare was alive and well. I didn't enter her in any more races after that, she retired...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Le Cadeau du Cheval, The Horse Gift

This is the original panel I received for the next mural I'll be part of. I love the colors. What do you think I'll paint on here? What would you paint on it if it was yours?

I need to keep within 20% of the color and value of what's here but at the same time, create my very own painting over the top of this.

I had the panel here for two days, looking at it, studying it over, then I saw the image in there. The reason it came to me like it did, was because on our last photo shoot, I took a photo that exactly fits this image. I'll be changing colors on my horses and redesigning from afternoon to backlit sunset colors on the horses, but I hope it turns out as it nears completion.
Donna Ridgway

Saturday, May 03, 2008


This isn't so much a painting as it is the exploration of an idea.

There's one thing you learn when you've spent your life with animals. They get old way faster than humans do. In a lifetime of working and living with animals, you see so many of them leave this earth before you're ready to let go of them.

I can not bear the thought of seeing their lifeless forms upon the ground, but I got to wondering what it must be like for them when they find themselves in another world. This horse is just beginning his new life and coming to the point of realizing things are different now.

I myself had a taste of what it would be like to die and pass into another world. I very nearly took that trip and it was a wonderful experience. Very natural, not frightening...full of love.... It gave me a different view of death and for the first time in my life, I was able to understand when people say, death is part of life...for it is.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

WWAO Seascapes Showcase is online!

Barbara Furlong , a member of World Wide Women Artists online, is hosting the WWAO exhibit for the month of May. She chose a theme, Seascapes, for a title. I was having a brain lapse, and thought I had nothing to exhibit. At the last minute, I remembered our trip to Florida when we were driving semi.

We were in Virginia, when we got an urgent message from our dispatcher to deadhead immediately to St Louis. We had doubts and questioned the orders but our dispatcher told us to go ahead and get to St Louis as fast as we possibly could.

When we backed up to the dock, there was something like 14 trucks backed up beside us from the trucking company we were driving for. Rumor was, that another 12 or 13 trucks had just left the docks loaded with orange juice for Miami.

Sure enough, we were loaded with orange juice from California or some other country. This orange juice had to spend a week in Florida, so it could then be labeled Florida orange juice. When we got to Miami with the juice, we had orders to wait a week, then pick up the "new" orange juice, and haul it back to St Louis.

It was February, and we'd never been to Florida before. So it didn't torture us any to spend the week in Miami! We lived in the truck, parked at a Farmer's Market parking lot. Met some nice people there. Toured the beaches, the waterways, the Gumbo Limbo park, saw the rich people's houses....watched alligators...all the Florida things.

Because of that trip, I had a photo I could enter in the WWAO online exhibit this May! It's nice to have a variety of experiences to draw from.... Hope you enjoy the exhibit.
Donna Ridgway

I'm not so invisible as I thought I was.

Hi Donna,
I just spent the morning hours looking at your sight. Thank you for the inspiration to paint. I am new to watercolor painting. I am trying to learn from a book. I have messed around for a year. I keep thinking I need to take a class but I really don't want to. Time and travel is difficult to manage. So, I web searched horse watercolor and came across your site. OH THANK YOU. I read as I looked at how you took photos and then painted. I have tons of photos of my cows, horses, dogs, chickens and kittens. I kept telling myself to paint what I like. I have to learn to be more "free" with the color and brush strokes. NOT to be so exact on line. I had become frustrated and no longer had the desire to even try. Reading your messages really got me excited today and I am going to go out and paint something...I don't know what yet...but it's out there. Thanks again!!!
(Name withheld for privacy reasons)

I received this wonderful letter in my email this morning. It couldn't have come at a better time for I was feeling totally invisible upon this earth.

Many years ago, when I was a kid, working on the farm with my dad, I asked him why we were put on this earth? He responded to me, "We're here to make this world a better place for other people who are here now and to make it better for people who live after us."

I guess because he's my dad, I believed him and I've used his words to create what you might call a "foundation" to my life. Lately, it seems I haven't done anything to help anyone, and I was getting pretty frustrated at my lack of results.

Right when you're down in the dumps the lowest, God gives you what you need to perk you up again! For John noticed I had placed an incorrect link to So now I know people do read this blog, and there are things on here of worth to someone, and that makes me happy.

Of course to get to the good stuff, you have to put up with everything else I write....I thank you for doing that, now that I know someone is out there!

Artist Resources

I've discovered the most heavenly site for artists.... actually two of them. One is the empty easel
and the other is watercolor online.

So don't expect anything much out of me in the next couple of days, I'll be busy exploring. :) And learning. There are some sites I can go to, where the knowledge is so nicely presented, I can soak it in like a sponge. It doesn't seem like study, where you work hard to learn something, it's actually enjoyable! Both these sites were like that to me.

On another note, yesterday, I was in a completely destructive mood, so I went out to the studio, which is now blocked and leveled, and tore a closet out of what was once the back bedroom. The hot water heater is in that room also, so I tore out the closet around it also. I used a big hammer and did lots of pounding and banging and felt good as I've had some especially frustrating experiences in the art world lately.

I take things to seriously, get frustrated and worked up about them, so it was good to freely destroy something! Ever the creator, I carefully saved what I could save. Little bits of quarter round, clean pieces of paneling.....screws, nails, I can reuse them when I rebuild the wall in what is going to be the display area of the studio.

The back room is going to be shelved for storage all the way around and possibly, if there's space, will have a table for framing in the center. The room is about 12'X14' so this should all be within the realm of possibility. Now the dreaded closet has been removed, it looks like it's going to be perfect for what we need.

There are some holes in the flooring I need to fix, there's a hole in the back wall on the tin on the outside, we'll fix that. Then we'll lay down the linoleum, put in the shelves and table, and that room will be functional.

Next to that room, is a small bathroom. I'm going to tear it apart also. The shower will come out, the toilet will come out. The sink will come out. I'll have wide shelves where the shower and toilet are, for my watercolor and drawing papers, mat boards etc....The storage is going to be wonderful for my art supplies have a way of taking over our lives. :)

I'm getting anxious to see the studio finished up but we're totally out of it with this cold we's a miracle when I feel like doing anything and now Robert has caught it also.

But we will prevail, the cold will go away, and we can get back to work.

In the meantime, I've got these two wonderful websites to explore....