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Karen's Horse Paintings Blog - June & July 2008


Finally Another Painting . . . .
Posted July 25, 2008

As I scroll down the blog, I can't help but notice it's been a while since I posted a painting. This newest painting features the same two Friesians, Alfons and Deiderik, from Friesians of Majesty in Vermont, as the painting in my June 18 post. They are a beautiful team!

Friesian horse painting driving team

Friesians of Majesty's Alfons and Deiderik

If you compare the two paintings, you'll notice this newest one is done in my more transparent layering style. I have decided to use this style on some of the newest paintings in my studio. I'm not sure why some paintings seem to lend themselves toward this look, while others seem more appropriate for the more realistic look. Hmmmm.......

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Having Karen come and photograph my coming 4 year old Lipizzan stallion was such an exciting adventure!! He had a sore foot (bruise I now find out!) and I didn't feel safe turning him loose until I knew what was wrong. Karen was soooo nice about it. I am so looking forward to seeing the painting of C. Marina!! Karen, you are an amazing artist! - Tracy


Which are your Favorites?
Posted July 15, 2008

I have found the perfect hobby for a horse loving artist! It's raising daylilies! What a wonderful use for that "compost" from my four gardening "horsey" partners. I planted a row of dayliies last fall and they are just beautiful this summer, thanks in part to the contributions of my horses!

But, I need your help! I'm a member of a daylily club that is having a photo contest for pictures featuring a daylily (not sure if it must have a flower, or simply part of the plant) and an animal. Of course I've been haunting my flower patch with my camera -- luring my precious pets to pose artistically beside the colorful blooms -- preferably without eating them.

I can only enter three pictures. .. and I have six that I like! I'd really appreciate your input as to which are best, based on "overall photographic and artistic quality."

Here they are:

Skeeter and Flowers

These Daylilies are Tasty! (As you can see, I was not successful an keeping the pets from eating the daylilies.)

Daylily and DJ

DJ and Daylily garden


Cool Dude

Please let me know which are your three favorites! Thank you!!!

5 Comments -- Click here to add your comment

Skeeter and Flowers
These Dayliles are Tasty!
Daylily and DJ
-- Kathy

Glad your daylilies are doing well! Mine had a bad year, and I don't know why. They looked like they'd been trampled (they weren't), and they didn't bloom. These border our alley, and I'm wondering if the city sprayed herbicide on them...
The photos are all great, but my favorites are Skeeter and Flowers, Daylily and DJ , and Stripes.
- Equine Art Blog

I like 1-3-5 and 2 in that order
- Kay

Skeeter and flowers, stripes, and cool dude
- Judy

[Note: Here is a link to the Newsletter.]


Painting Prep
Posted July 9, 2008

Whew! I'm almost ready to start painting Michigan horses and Fiesta Midwest Andalusians. I've carefully selected my favorite photo from each Michigan stop and decided what size to make each painting.

Of course I have been known to change my mind on which photos to paint -- sometimes right before I start that particular drawing. And I've even erased one drawing and changed to a different design because I couldn't get it out of my mind.

I showed my sister and my horse-loving neighbor the Michigan photos and out of the 35 horses, we each picked our favorite photo of each. We all agreed on 2. That means we disagreed on 33! Hmmm.....Lucky for me I get to decide!

I had my favorite lumber yard - Curry Lumber in Wooster, Ohio - cut up four 48x96" sheets of masonite into over 50 boards for the two projects.

After an evening of sanding on Monday night, I was ready to gesso all day Tuesday. This is by FAR my least favorite part. And the great deal I got on a can of gesso was not such a great deal afterall when I tried to stir it. It was as thick as solidly frozen ice cream at the bottom and like water at the top. After about 15 minutes of "stirring" (with the wooden stir stick flexing to the point of almost breaking) I was able to stir up a big chunk of thick sludge. Then I had the bright idea of kneeding the sludge to incorporate it into the gesso. (Yes, I could have driven to Pat Cattan's to buy a new can of gesso - but I had my gessoing outfit on, and it is not to be seen in public.) This was not a good start to my least favorite part of painting. It took about 1/2 an hour of digging slug from the bottom of the can and carefully squeezing it to get a consistency I liked; my hands were totally covered with gesso -- all except my wedding ring! Now that's skill! I had to strain it through some old nylons to get the chunks out, but finally, the paint was ready! Drop cloths taped to the concrete part of our drive blew gently in the breeze amusing the cat! They were ready for wet boards. Of course the 94 degree sunny weather dried the board very quickly! Everything went smoothly from there, with my husband helping me carry in the boards right before the storm clouds rolled in at 5 pm.

Now I've marked all the boards with the matching number for each design and I'm ready to start drawing!

[Insert photo of me gessoing --- NOT!!! And of course a photo of me kneeding gesso would be nice too - but that's not happening either!]

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Beautiful Trip to Michigan
Posted June 29, 2008

I've just returned from photographing 46 beautiful horses in Michigan for my "Beautiful Horses of Michigan" proect! I will be making a painting of each horse based on my photographs. Wow, what a fun trip! The horses were all wonderful! And their owners were so nice and gracious to allow me to photograph their prized horses. Many had spent hours shampooing and prepping their horses for the photo shoot.

Sherri sent me photos of her horse Rain's "Spa Treatment" She wrote, "I am hairdresser, nail technician, wardrobe, make-up, personal trainer, and therapist. ( or is it the other way around on that last one? )"


Thanks to all the owners and their assistants for the hard work they put in before I arrived! (After all this bathing, some of the horses thought a good first photo would be of them rolling in the dirt -- we had to chase after some to prevent that from happening -- usually we were successful!)

Even though rain was in the forecast for Michigan all but one of the seven days I was there, we only got rained out at one farm. How amazing! Luckily that farm had an indoor arena with big doors to let in the light AND the horse was a paint who was 95 percent white. At the next stop it was raining just lightly; our umbrellas resulted in lots of perked up ears for photos!

Watch for the first "Beautiful Horses of Michigan" paintings to be posted on my website this fall. That's because it takes about three months to complete a painting! To hold you over til then, here are some photos from my trip.

This Saddlebred colt was so cute! I was delighted to get to snap a few photos of him while I was visiting his home to photograph his sire, One Hot Nite, who is an amazing stallion!

Snap E Traveller was so funny. Racing around his pasture he would always turn toward me as he passed, making sure I was capturing his beautiful movement. At one point he ran right up behind me and gave out a loud snort - such a gust of wind -- it blew my hair forward!

Imagine a horse pasture with a beautiful river in your backyard! Yes, there will be paintings with horses wading in the water! Here Betsy wades out with Kenya.

The brochure said "Where the horse is King," so Will and I had to ride the ferry to Mackinac Island, even though we only got to stay one hour. You can guess what I was doing the whole time - photographing horses! (Will was eating fudge.)

Yes, it's that beauty queen Rain again, asking her neighbor who does her hair color treatment.

Every horse I got to visit in Michigan was special! And, as I told one owner, everyone I met on my trip was super nice, after all only nice people would go to the trouble of nominating their horse for a project like this!

Stay tuned. There are LOTS of beautiful horse paintings coming soon!

1 Comment -- Click here to add your comment

Having Karen come photograph my "mature" 26 year old Arabian, Baskeeter, was the highlite of my year! Karen was so kind and I think my sweet old horse enjoyed being the center of attention! We're really looking forward to seeing the results!
Thanks Karen! -- Lisa


Into the Dark
Posted June 18, 2008

Two Friesians pull their carriage from the bright outdoors into the dark indoor arena. Black on black. The Friesians blend with the darkness of the indoor; the dark shades of purple, red, and blue intermix to form the dark shapes silhouetted against the cool yellow light.

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friesian painting

The Black Giraffe

Posted June 12, 2008

This new Friesian painting, Dreamy Friesian, is based on a photo taken at the Friesian World Extravaganza held in Ohio last fall. The stallion's neighbors nicknamed him "The Black Giraffe" because he looked so tall with his head and necked stretched skyward calmly watching for his owner's return. Unfortunately I did not catch his actual name, although I think it started with an X or Z sound.... hmmm.... If you know what his name might be, please let me know.

Painting in my new experimental style, I've played with a combination of positive and negative shapes. With it's wispy background and forms that vary in clarity, I'd like to call the style "McDreamy" -- but I think that's the name of a character on a popular TV show.

It's very different!

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How to Live with Just 375 Andalusian Photos
Posted June 10, 2008

Gosh, in yesterday's blog I was lamenting over (well actually drolling over) my 1,800 photos from the Andalusian show, and trying to figure out how I would ever whittle the collection down to 100 -- afterall my computer hard drive has things besides digital images to worry about. So far I have deleted all but 375 images, and was feeling good about it, until I picked up our latest Time magazine and came to the article, "How to Live with Just 100 Things." Seems like David Bruno is eliminating all but 100 of his possessions!??!? Hmmmm.... and he's encouraging others to purge their lives of unneccessary stuff.

I'm way too attached to my stuff.

When I read deeper into the article, it described how a pair of shoes could be considered one thing. Then, it mentioned a lady who considered her 20 pairs of shoes to be "one thing." Now we're talking!

If we're talking catagories, here's how I plan to live with just 3 things: Horse stuff, Art stuff, and Personal stuff! Yes, I can!

Wouldn't you know, today is the day my husband and I have been dreading for a month. It is the day we have dedicated (ironically) to cleaning 20 years of stuff out of the basement. I will just have to sort it into my three catagories, and anything that doesn't fit is off to the recycling or trash.

Trash or Keep? Okay, you vote -- I know I would never use the picture below for a painting, but isn't it too cute to delete???

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Bob Languish -- World Famous Horse Photographer
At Fiesta Midwest

Posted June 9, 2008

We just returned from the Fiesta Midwest! It was heavenly being surrounded by beautiful Andalusians! I took over 1,800 photos (thank goodness for digital cameras— can you imagine how many rolls of film that would be — and the cost for developing??) Now I’m trying to organize the photos, and only save the very best. After the first round of deleting my least favorite, I’m almost down to 600 shots.  Now, there is NO WAY I’m going to paint 600 paintings. A more disciplined artist I’m sure would be able to get the number down to 100…. But discipline is not my strong suit…..

One of the most exciting things about the Fiesta was getting to meet the world famous equine photographer Bob Languish. I have one of his calendars hanging about two feet from where I’m sitting… so even if you don’t recognize his name, I’m sure you’ve seen his work. He adds 20,000 horse photos to his collection each year, and has a fantastic website with all kinds of horses at www.boblangish.com. Bob invited participants at the Fiesta Midwest to have their horses photographed in a huge (3-4 acre) grassy pasture beside the show’s venue, Roberts Arena in Wilmington, Ohio. Fortunately for me, he didn’t mind who tagged along, and they needed volunteers to keep the horses running rather than grazing during the photo shoot. What fun!!!!

Bob also gave a seminar for people at the show with lots of tips on photographing horses. And he lit up his laptop with fantastic photos from his collection. My favorites were his pictures of the Queen of England’s ponies with one of her castles in the background. (They were taken for a special project and I couldn’t find them on his website.) Bob is going to China for to photograph the Olympics for major horse magazines.

In the pictures above you can see Bob and his super size cameras...which could take sharp images of galloping horses anywhere in the huge pasture.... Look at the size of that pasture!


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Friesian horse painting Nanning 374

Nanning 374, Friesian Extraordinaire!
Posted June 4, 2008

The magnificent Friesian, Nanning 374, was one of the stars of the 2007 World Friesian Extravaganza which my friend Sandy and I attended last fall. I've been working on some paintings from the hundreds of photos I took that weekend, and this is the first one I've completed of Nanning.

Needless to say, the crowds could not get enough of Nanning, and his "people" were very generous in letting fans pose with their stallion for photos (sort of like with Cinderella at Disney World). Sandy, who is ga-ga over this breed, loved getting to pose with Nanning.... here's one of the many pictures I took of the pair.

Just like me, Nanning's website is his name: http://www.nanning374.com. It's filled with great pictures of this stallion!

I'll be posting two more Friesian paintings from the show soon, with more coming later. My first Friesian Extravaganza painting, featuring the four House of the Friesian horses pulling their chariot, is in my April blog.

This painting and my other newest paintings can be found on my Featured Paintings page.

posted by Karen Brenner

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Andalusian horse profile

Sorpresa Stars in New YouTube Video
Posted June 1, 2008

Not to be outdone by my Quarter Horse DJ whose YouTube video was featured in May's blog, Sorpresa, my Andalusian mare, now has her own YouTube video!

We have been practicing groundwork for years -- five years to be exact. It all started when Sorpresa was a yearling and suffered a torn tendon that required stall rest. Not the most patient of horses she began demonstrating the beginnings of an aptitude for the Spanish Walk. Yes, the vet frowned severely and accusingly called it "striking," but I knew it was an amazingly wonderful talent! Over the years Sorpesa has developed and now excels at the Spanish Walk. In fact when she's done enough work during a riding lesson, she starts doing the Spanish Walk. It's her way of saying, "Lesson's over!" (My way of saying, "No it's not," is a little leg pressure.)

In her YouTube video, Sorpresa is at liberty. She performs her Spanish Walk (a few times!) plus the piaffe, and a delightful canter pirouette. She's also working on a Spanish trot and a capriole.

Watch Sorpresa's video.

posted by Karen Brenner

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About Karen

Karen Brenner is passionate
about horses and art!
She enjoys traveling to horse farms
and equine events to
photograph horses
for reference material
for her horse paintings.

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August- mid-September 2008
First Beautiful Horses of MI
All Horse Parade Photos
New Andalusian Paintings
Steeplechase Paintings
Camargo Hunt Paintings

June & July 2008
Michigan Trip
Friesian Paintings
Sorpresa's on YouTube

May 2008
New Andalusian Paintings for Fiesta Midwest
YouTube Video - Karen's equine apprentice, DJ

April 2008
Rolex Cross Country
House of the Friesians
Amish Country Photo Safari

March 2008
A Book!
Aiken Spring Steeplechas


Behind the Bit


Equus Caballus

Experiments in
Training Equines


The Horsehoeing Housewife

Manes n Tails

Midwest Horse Blog

Nuzzling Muzzles

Stable Scoop Radio Show

Teachings of the Horse




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