Friday, March 31, 2017

Thoughts on NaMoPaiMo

This post is about NaMoPaiMo and its inspiratrix, but it's illustrated with horses I've created, past and present.  Because of what Jennifer did, I'm showing off models I haven't thought about in decades...  photos buried in boxes and scrapbooks for close on to 40 years.  I honestly thought I did not need to paint a horse, but the desire to show off is irresistable.
Black and white I could do.  The stockings & muzzle were tough
In a bare 3 years one person has inpacted my hobby far more than I ever thought possible.  This, from a platform I sometimes think a majority has dismissed as outmoded and old fashioned!  Blogging -- how slow, how hard to keep up with.  Yet Jennifer Buxton has made blogging nothing less than her kingdom.  Over the years she's shared dam' near everything with us, far more than most of us would dream of sharing: from family matters to dogs' deaths to model showing and collecting triumphs, to tackmaking and live horse riding and the births of foals, she's shared it all.  Somehow that 'daily dose' habit has stuck with her, and I, never a newspaper reader, find myself as irrevocably hooked as the most addicted news fan.  Writers, reporters and journalists the world over are paid to do less.

Tiger Lily, sold somewhere in CO  circa 1980
We are immeasureably enriched by what she has chosen to share -- and I haven't even gotten to the 3 years.

Her first bravura feat was the Winter Photo Challenge, in January of 2015.  Remember that?  It lasted for a month and nothing like it had been tried before.  She set up a fairly simple framework of rules and expected somewhat less than 50 entrants.  She got 200.  It blew up wildly and became so popular that it risked completely burning her out.  I shudder sometimes to think how close we came to doing that.  Through no fault of her own, the thing became so much bigger than she'd forecast:  she became Den Mother to all of us, a public symbol, almost mythological, like a goddess.  Her vote of approval became the most desperately needed accolade.  The demands on her time and attention were immense, and reached well beyond what any one human being could answer.
Taken in a hotel at a show, Phoenix, AZ in 1982
The end result was a kind of fantastic Yellow Pages, a Directory of most of the online hobby who blogged at all.  Everyone who cared to enter had a place within this edifice.  I still visit the Winter Photo Challenge today when I want to look up some half-familiar artist.  It was incredible fun.  It put names and faces to so many stable names, nicknames and monikers I'd seen, and it opened my mind to the existence of other amazingly skilled and promising tackmakers out there....  for starters.

You would think Jennifer would rest on her laurels after that.  But no.  She was just getting started.

What happened in 2016?  The  Jennifer Show, that's what -- a show like no other.  I was unable to attend, so I can't personally report on it, but I was sufficiently moved (or inspired) to send one of my last 2 copies of my book as a donation prize.  The level of trust here was very high.
Fake fur mane and tail, painted-leather silver
Speaking purely personally (and a good deal emotionally), I cry:  that show was everything NAN should have been.  There went a great deal of resources and much political will.  By its success I cannot help drawing the bitter conclusion that Namhsa was unable to retain its high position, and had much of the available spirit drawn off into a fresh new start further West.  Would my hobby thus re-invent itself every 20 years or so??  Is it simply too thin on the ground to maintain a permanent show framework?  Must it evolve constantly, wherever it can, as new centers emerge?  We have not been thick enough on the ground to maintain a permanent museum:  the dispersal of Black Horse Ranch (Karen Grimm) shows that.
Etched in 1983 to go with the Overo Paint
 Jennifer could have rested on her laurels again after that second stroke of great power.  (It also showed she could play duets, as we musicians say:  She could work as part of a team to put on a larger performance.)  Did she rest?  Well... four months later came the third Masterstroke.

Once again it took a month and had a simple framework of rules.  Once again she was expecting about 100 participants, but drew more than 600.  Once again the thing got completely out of hand, went viral, went international and wound up in a great symbolic act.  An edifice was built wherein everyone had a place.  National Model Painting Month!!  Once again, to be able to receive her accolade, though but a few words, was worth all the fuss and effort.

"And there was a place for them within." -- Alan Tempko, author of Notre Dame

Etched in 2003
This goes beyond hobby.  This is how myths begin, legends are born and religions founded.  What words can I find?  She has been more than a tackmaker, a blogger, a teacher, a collector or a shower.  She's more even than an enabler, which is my word for good administration (in my family administrators are automatically bad).  She has earned my trust, and I shall be safe, within these parameters so carefully and so skillfully bounded, yet boundless in imagination.  'Spirit mother' comes to mind.  'Enabler' is a word I have reflected on before.  I used enabler to refer to an especially admired supporter of shows, who has since passed on.  It seems clear to me that were he to return today, he would be quite pleased with his protege.  Yes, Jenn, I believe you have channeled the spirit of Jim West.
Etched in 2005, with a pattern developed by Gerhardt
 When triumphs are larger than life, it is true there are no words.  Leave her alone for a while.  Let her catch her breath.  A sabbatical is called for.  I tell you I have a truly terrible fear we might indeed burn her out.
 Were she to do no more -- not another post or show or sharing - I should still be so deeply awestruck by what she has accomplished.  I use and refer to her work in some fashion nearly every day.  Braymere has admittedly changed my life.  I can only wait and see what might happen next.
Long live the power of the Braymere!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Gilfoyle (Not!) on Copperfox

What could go better with my new Copperfox than my newly-gotten Gilfoyle-McGroarty saddle?! 

NEWSFLASH - Keren G-McGroarty claims she did not make this saddle!!  March 15.  Who Dun It?? 

NEWSFLASH - from the future -  November 15, 2017 - Kelda Goerte of Red River Saddlery made this saddle set.  Thanks to Frances Stevens for this information!

Both were made in England.  This is a short post which celebrates a fortuitous combination.  But I made the saddle blanket.  : )
Friends will know I received my first Copperfox last fall (Oct 2016), one of the "Marble" Connemara mares.  I absolutely loved her.
Ever since then I'd been eyeing the Copperfox catalog and thinking about the exchange rate.  When Copperfox announced a sale that ended at Christmas (2016), I decided to make my move.  All along I had been drawn to only two of their four molds.  Finnegan, while an excellent performance prospect, was not quite so close to my heart as the Connemara; call him a solid second place.  I suppose eventually I shall pursue Finnegan (especially if he turns out to be anywhere near a pair with True North, Breyer's new mold by the same sculptress), but in the end, I chose another Connemara.
I loved the bay, Cadno.
When Cadno arrived, I was marginally less smitten than I had been with the Marble; but only marginally.  He was a very nice horse and I was delighted with him.  He didn't seem quite as sharply molded; and it took me a while to appreciate his grey hoof paint.  He was more matte than I had subconsciously wanted - I seem to have a serious crush on gloss.  But his color was gorgeous, every bit as luscious as I had been led to believe.  The model is wonderful.  It was sculpted by the same artist as Geronimo.  When you hold Cadno next to Geronimo, you learn how much Geronimo has been 'softened,' smoothed down, and how much muscle detail was lost on him compared to the Copperfoxes.

I named my bay Canto, a word which means 'song.'  It also means "Can too!" as an expression of confidence, which was important to me.

The saddle was first seen on MH$P.  The pictures were dark, but I fell in love.
photo by Lynn Norbury
I did not know much about Keren Gilfoyle-McGroarty, other than she had been around forever and that she was from Great Britain.  The overall level of detail on the set was awesome.  This was really the first time I'd paid serious attention to the work of this artist, for which I am somewhat ashamed.  I determined I had to have the saddle, and luck was with me - it came home that fall (Sept 2016). 
What makes me fall in love with a particular saddle?  For one thing I collect pieces from artists who have matured to the point of having their own distinct style and a pretty high level of detail.  I can only afford one piece from each, so it should be a representative saddle.  I really like saddles that look so real you could 'sit in them and ride away' and be comfy when you did.  The suede seat, then, was a strong draw, one of those subliminal things!  This particular set had that balance of silvering and tooling which I like.  It had the unmistakable stamp of a quality piece of model tack: every part was in scale with every other part, and all the parts expressed the same artistic vision.  For a bonus, it had the most glorious bling, jewels set on to the silver - something I'd rarely seen in real life (and loved when I did).  They too were not overdone; there was a masterful sense of restraint.
But perhaps the best bonus of all was that I had nothing like it.  When availability crosses with quality with liquidity (none of which is guaranteed!), it's time to bite.

The earlier pictures of the bridle reveal my troubles with getting the bit right on the off side.  Yes, the earpiece is too big for this horse, and that forelock doesn't help.  On the near side, everything laid beautifully on the head.
 The braided-floss reins had amazing buckles with silver tips, something I rarely see (and didn't own).
The blanket, of course, is the 'Vibe' I finally finished in late January.  It had been under construction since May of 2016!  which meant sitting around in its little blanket kit box for months, while I dragged it on every trip, to Kentucky, to Florida...  Something about the bright colors just hit it off with the amazing bright jewels on this saddle.  I suspect they are AB, aurora borealis, so they have peach and purple and green and gold tones, just like this Vibe.
The black elements of the saddle balanced with the black of the blanket.  Black is an extremely strong color, yet in this case each piece used it perfectly.

Keren had made her own silver for this set, a clue as to how old it was.  It is not a material I am familiar with.  I am still trying to learn more about when this saddle was made, and under what circumstances.  It is at least 20 years old from what the seller told me.
Minor repairs were necessary with lifting silver on the cheekpieces, breastcollar and cantle.  On the whole, this saddle has been remarkably well preserved.

I am grateful to have it!