Ghost Horse – Where the Red Line Came From

click on image to see detail

Walking up to the top of the hill in Calistoga, California, I sat down on a path in a stand of trees. It was quiet. I thought about being present while I sketched the space between the trees. I sketched the silence and breeze surrounding the space.

Back in the studio I translated into painting my interpretation of the space, the breeze,  around the trees. Then I needed to put the trees in. How did my body respond to those tall trees all around me? I know too much. I know how to paint a green forest. Instead of painting the same old thing, I wanted to grow. I wanted to take risks. After painting two abstract blue tree trunks, I added a red wood plank.  Leaving the painting, then coming  back later gave me some distance from the piece. Something was missing. It just wasn’t very interesting. The strong blue and red had taken over the marks of silence.

I looked out the open door next to my painting corner and a white horse walked by. That’s it! I grabbed a piece of charcoal and quickly added the horse to my painting. The horse was perfect in that space. The light application of the horse brought attention to the quiet breeze. The painting was now balanced. ‘Ghost Horse’ was finished.

This painting was to be the beginning of a series about animals. A year and a half later it ended up being the first in the Red Line Series.