Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Kim is a Closet Artist

I've always wanted to be artistic.  I've consoled myself over the years by being told I am creative in my own way, thinking of unusual ways to train a horse, or appreciating the art that is good equine and human biomechanics in dressage.  But that wasn't enough!  I wanted to be good at drawing!

This desire has intensified in recent years, as I have several artsy friends like Rebecca:
 Jasi is incredibly artistic:

and of course we have Kim Hale who is good with watercolors, who does the incredible photography for Bit of Honey Training.

I have a good time in photoshop working on different projects, but I wanted to be able to draw with a pencil on paper, and create something I really liked. Recently I took out a good old yellow No. 2 pencil used for standardized tests and pulled out my journal in case it didn't turn out no one would see anything.

I had taken an art class in high school, more than twenty years ago.  I had a vague recollection of tracing a graph onto the photo I was trying to draw, then putting a graph on my piece of drawing paper.  Using the small squares, all I needed to do was draw tiny portions of the photo at a time, for instance isolating just a line that goes halfway across the box rather than trying to draw a leg.  I remembered this being the only way I was able to get drawings that were anywhere near accurate.

So I printed some stuff off the internet that I liked, drew graphs on the different images, drew corresponding graphs on my paper, and got to it.  This was my first try at artistic plagiarism, redrawing someone else's original drawing. 

Next I tried to do a drawing from a photograph, which was much harder!  Turns out it's much easier to do a drawing of a drawing than a drawing of a photo.  I do still liked how this one of Highboy turned out.

After Highboy's portrait I went back to some drawings of drawings, with increasing success!

This process has been going on for about two weeks.  Midway through last week, as I continued to text images of my drawings to Rebecca (artistic mage that she is), she asked what utensil I was using to draw these things.  When I told her my yellow standardized No 2 pencil I imagine she shook her head in chagrin.  "To Jerry's Artarama we go!" she declared.

Last Thursday we picked up Jasi from school and the three of us made a pilgrimage to the art supply store in Fort Collins.  They have all kinds of everything there, from A DOZEN different kinds of graphite pencils, to giant blocks of wood for sculptures, from pastels made of chalk that slip over textured papers, to pastels made of oil that glide leaving a spreadable stream of color behind.  Soon after walking in I found myself staring in awe at the sheer vastness of the pencil aisle.

Another customer approached me while Jasi and Rebecca were standing a little distance away, and upon noticing the obvious confusion on my face she asked, "Are you new to art?"

I naively responded, "Yes, just this week!  I've been drawing!"  She asked what I'd been using, and I told her about my trusty yellow No. 2 pencil.  Immediate disdain and skepticism spread across her face and she absolutely LAUNCHED into a tirade about all the supplies I needed to acquire and learn how to use.  I didn't understand very much of what she said as it was mostly in arsty-fartsy terminology.  But I smiled politely and nodded every once in a while when she would pause for breath between telling me about all the colored pencils, paints, papers, and miscellaneous media I should be trying.  Eventually she ran out of steam and went back to searching for her own purchases, leaving the three of us exchanging astonished looks. 

In the end, with guidance from Jasi and Rebecca, I settled on purchasing three graphite pencils of varying hardness.  One is super hard and draws lightly, one is very soft and makes thick dark black marks, and the one in the middle is still a bit softer and darker than my yellow one.  This way I can do darker blacks for the shadows in the drawings, and lighter lines for my grid that are easier to erase. I also got a kneaded eraser I can form into a small point to erase tiny portions at a time, and an 9x12 pad of drawing paper.

Using my new pencils and paper, I created these most recent two drawings.  I like them so much that I put them in frames I had lying around, swapping out old photos for the fruits of my new artistic endeavors.  I then hung them on the wall in my office by the closet, under my show ribbons.  It seems to fit, seeing as I take racehorses and teach them to be sporthorses.

I've been battling a little bit with whether what I'm doing is legitimately art, since using the graph makes it immeasurably easier for me to draw accurate replicas of the images someone else created.  Rebecca, Kim H., and Jasi all insist that it's not cheating, it's a technique.  I'm not tracing anything, just using my graph to help me get proportions closer to correct.  I'm going to go with it, since I'm not selling anyone else's images, just making these for my own pleasure.  Who knew I could draw?  It's a fun way to pass time when the weather (or the flu) makes actually riding and working outside too difficult.  I guess this means I'm actually a closet artist, since I didn't know I could do these things and now they are hanging near my office closet.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Announcing Mahzi's New Job

When Mahzi arrived here over three years ago from Mountain Pet Rescue, she looked like a border collie mix and acted like a full border collie.  She was hyper, athletic, super smart, and BUSY.  I was told that she was approximately a year old, since she had all her adult teeth and was so tall and leggy.  She had been a stray in Arkansas that animal control picked up, but because she was so intense they had no luck adopting her out from the high-kill shelter where she was held. Mountain Pet Rescue brought her to Colorado to find an active mountain home for her.

I adopted her from the rescue and brought her home to learn the ways of being a horse-training border collie.  She definitely had the border collie brain.  She caught on fast and loved to run with me and the thoroughbreds in the back forty.  She would jump the jumps, climb on the logs, and was always right next to me ready to work.

Time passed, and Mahzi began to change.  I suspect that when I got her she was actually closer to six months old, to have had all her adult teeth but to still have so much maturing ahead of her. She gained 30 lbs, putting her at a solid and fit 85 lbs now.  She filled out tremendously, then slowed down and became a lab.  She preferred to lie around and watch me and the horses work rather than participate.  Most of the time you could see her lying in the arena, giving me a look that clearly said, "I can see you from here, have a good ride."  She also didn't like being out working in the cold in the winters, and had to wear a coat to get through barn chores. 

This fall we decided to bring Mahzi in the house and see how she liked the slower pace of house dog life.  She took to it incredibly quickly.  The lying around in the heated living room is just the thing for her, and when she has to go outside to do business she hurries right back to the front door and gives us a woof to let us know she's ready to come back into the warm.  She also enjoys using her deep bark to terrify delivery people, who no longer ring the doorbell but just toss packages at the front door and bolt.

Mahzi loves to lie next to Jasi when she's doing homework at the dinner table, and Mahzi adores the "cookie in a Kong toy" routine in the evening.  She'll often fall asleep on the carpet, snoring away, and if you happen to wake her up she looks at you blurry-eyed with the tip of her tongue sticking out (she sleeps with her tongue out.)

We are getting into the windy season here at the ranch in Colorado, and I have a hard time with so much wind.  It gives me wicked vertigo, a leftover from the head injury.  I spend my time hiding in my office on days like this, and today Mahzi and I took a nap in my comfy chair.

The old saying, "Its a dog's life" doesn't sound so bad when you're a lazy lab living in the house!

I seem to have collected a fair number of animals that mature late, from late blooming horses, to Mahzi, my now 85 lb lap dog.  Her before and after photos are impressive.  Hard to tell it's the same dog!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

First Trailride of 2018

Thank goodness for a fighting immune system!  I'm finally feeling better enough that I was able to get out and ride Highboy on the trails.  He was so pleased to be going and doing SOMETHING that he was remarkably well behaved despite not having been ridden for nearly a month.  The other possibility is that he is finally a grown up, because he has finally turned nine (by convention all Thoroughbreds turn a year older on January first).  Really a toss-up between the two.

We spent our first trail ride of the year at Eagles' Nest in Livermore with Shambhu and Carol.  The river was mostly frozen so there's no fun splashing videos this time, but it was still a beautiful scenic ride with sunny weather.  We finished just as some clouds were rolling in.  Highboy was performing his usual routine of "But I don't wanna go home yet!  Just five more minutes!" and crawling as slowly towards the parking lot and trailer as possible. 

He and Shambhu have a pretty good system worked out.  Highboy insists that he wants to lead at the beginning of our rides, because we are charging out into the great unknown and if we're having an adventure Highboy wants to see it first.  Shambhu is perfectly content with this.  It's a lot of responsibility to be the lead horse especially headed into new territory, and Shambhu is really more of a content follower.  Once we get past the halfway point in our loop, though, the roles switch.  Shambhu is happy to be headed back to the safety of the trailer and a hay bag and he takes the lead.  Highboy then proceeds to drag his toes, lollygagging along and stopping often to stare around at the scenery.  He never wants the rides to be over!