Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sorraia Stallions - Shows of Bravado

Ousado (Altamiro x Bella)

Sweeping in just before the month's end, this journal entry will show some images and photos from a day in June when the stallions of the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve were enjoying the rain and putting on impressive shows of bravado.  There were so many different skirmishes that I found it difficult to know where to point my camera.  And in the video, as I was watching the horses a doe snuck up on me to get herself a closer look at the crazy lady sitting in the rain, with a plastic bag over her camera.  It was a lovely day!  I hope you enjoy the video and photos as much as I do.

Capaz (Interessado x Pinoteia)

Legado, Capaz and Sedutor

Altamiro and Capaz

Legado (Altamiro x Sovinas Zorita)

Gosto, Destemido and Legado

Fidalgo and Destemido

Destemido and Uncle Jerry the mule

Legado and Silvestre

Shaking off the rain

Silvestre, Interessado and Legado

Altamiro aka "Big Daddy"

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Inspiration and Influences

Spring Thunderstorm Over Ravenseyrie
East Bluff, Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island
Ontario, Canada

The MOST important source of inspiration for painting ideas is our own lives... and what we like most. (Jack Dickerson)

I have been influenced by paintings I have seen in books, and in museums, not because they defined success but because they suggested possibilities. (Eleanor Blair)

Every day I wake up thankful to have made choices in life that make it possible to live here on Manitoulin Island. The dynamic elementals of our life on the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve provide me with infinite inspiration all times of the year and catalyze creative ideas that number greater than my mind and body are capable of sustaining.

The big sky, the roaming winds, the shifting colours and the indigenous flora and fauna - especially the horses - permeate my senses whether I am awake or sleeping and quite naturally guide my work in the studio.

"Sun Propeller" (Huun Huur Tu) eventide May 24th, Ravenseyrie

I find my creative output this year also remains heavily under the influence of Toko Shinoda's artworks and Huun Huur Tu's music -  with wonderful, long-lasting effects that continue to be remarkably energizing.  In today's journal entry, I thought I would show a few examples of how inspiration and influences manifest themselves in my work.

Savour the moment, be in the Now.
                                                                                    --L. Gerard

Ousado (Altamiro x Bella), late winter

Not all the time, but quite frequently, I bring my camera with me when I am doing chores on our preserve, or just out hiking its many sectors.  I am often intrigued not just with epic sky scenes or evocative landscapes, but also am easily captivated by the play of a breeze upon the manes and tails of the horses, even after all these years.  I never tire of the amazing scenes!  Digital cameras are marvellous tools for capturing fleeting, elemental sensations and make it possible for me to conjure such moments through the mediums of writing and painting when in my studio.  While sitting on the ground one fine, late winter's day and listening to the pleasing sounds of the horses eating the supplemental hay we give them, I was entranced by the way the breeze was artfully turning over Ousado's forelock, and how the light accentuated his natural bi-colouring.

I have recently been putting my focus and practice in the study of sumi-e, and I felt that the photo I took of Ousado was one that might lend itself to ink wash painting.

An informational sign in the Ravenseyrie Art Gallery

Ousado, sumi-e, unframed

Sumi-e of Ousado under glass, with my calligraphed phrase
"Savour the moment, be in the Now."

Sometimes run with the wind, sometimes against it.  
                                                                     --L. Gerard

Altamiro (Ultrajado x Pompeia) chasing a seagull

How could I resist trying to capture the essence of this photo of Altamiro?  I first worked up a charcoal study:

Charcoal sketch #1 of Altamiro turned out a bit more representational than what the "influence-Toko-Shinoda-has-over-me" was looking for, so I tried another version:

Charcoal sketch #2 of Altamiro

Based on this second, more abstract charcoal study I did several sumi-e of Altamiro running and the photo below is a particular favourite.  I used sumi with touches of  Davy's grey and yellow ochre on Japanese paper.  Here it is matted with my accompanying phrase, "Sometimes run with the wind, sometimes against it.", waiting for glass:

Sumi-e of Altamiro

I felt this painting would make a nice open-edition print and also a fine art greeting card, so I created a modified digital image of it.  I publish my prints and cards myself, with the indispensable assistance of my iMac, Epson printer and inventory of fine art papers.

Fine art reproduction of my original sumi-e of Altamiro 

Even in seeming disorder, wind moves creatively and colours dance and harmony are born of chaos.              --L. Gerard

Here is another example of how much the horses and the work of Toko Shinoda (as well as the rustic steppe sounds of Huun Huur Tu) influence and inspire me creatively.  First a photo of Legado:

Sorraia stallion, Legado (Altamiro x Sovina's Zorita)
Charcoal sketch of Legado

The nearly finished sumi-e of Legado

Sumi-e of Legado under glass

Like the painting of Altamiro running, I liked this sumi-e of Legado well enough to adapt to a fine art print and notecard:

Legado, fine art reproduction adapted from the original sumi-e

Along with the horses, the supple, elongated bodies of the Sandhill Cranes that migrate back to their breeding grounds in the wetland sector of Ravenseyrie are also repeated subjects in my paintings.  After eleven years, it seems as if the cranes and the horses have developed a rather symbiotic relationship.  The presence of the horses keeps the grasslands open and their manure provides seeds and larvae that supplement the cranes' diets.  The presence of the cranes provides an added assistance to the natural control of parasites that seek out equine hosts.  And...I think both species find each other fascinating and entertaining - certainly the landscape is a livelier place with these creatures inhabiting it!

Sorraias and Sandhills at Ravenseyrie
Walk in beauty, live in love.
             --L. Gerard

Breeding pair of Sandhill Cranes at Ravenseyrie

Sumi-e of Sandhill Crane

Sumi-e of Sandhill Crane under glass

Here are some other recent paintings that reveal those elements that inspire and influence me:

Believe in goodness prevailing.
                            --L. Gerard

Zorita's mane in winter

Zorita's mane, sumi and titanium white on Japanese paper

Sumi-e of Zorita's mane under glass

Sometimes insulate yourself from the elements, sometimes dance in the rain.       --L. Gerard

Charcoal study of Altamiro 

Sumi-e of Altamiro under glass

Live a creative life.
                 --L. Gerard

Sumi-e of Legado

Sumi-e of Legado under glass

I have had a marvellously liberating, enjoyable time exploring sumi-e while under the influence of Toko Shinoda and Huun Hurr Tu and the Ravenseyrie horses and the elementals of Manitoulin Island!  I confess less than a handful of the many recent paintings have lived up to the "ideal" sumi-e I have in my beginners mind, but there were a good number of them that I felt were evocative enough to be mounted and framed along with my calligraphic phrases.  Last week I cleared some wall space in my gallery so that I could devote an entire section to the sumi-e.  Won't my returning tourists be surprised how productive I was over the winter!  For those of you who may never make a trip to Manitoulin Island to visit the Ravenseyrie Studio & Art Gallery, I took a short video the other day to provide you a virtual tour.  Enjoy!

Make your art a gift of inspiration to others to work toward better things. (Richard Schmid)

Special thanks to Art Quotes/Presented by the Painter's Keys

We have a wonderful world to be inspired by and each new day is like an adventure into the unknown, where things that require a second glance can be captured in time on a canvas for anyone to enjoy forever. (Louise Corke)

Saturday, April 30, 2016


"Sun Propeller" over Ravenseyrie

One day, during deep winter, I was researching on the internet, hoping to find some appropriate music to play while I practice Qigong and Tai Chi.  Most of the year, I practice outside, but in wintertime I am more often obliged to practice in the spacious hallway in the Harbour Centre building (where I lease space for my studio and gallery).  It is when I am practicing inside that I find I desire an accompanying soundtrack...when I am outside, things flow more naturally.  

Online there are many places where one can find music that has been specifically edited for these types meditative body movements.  I listened to a number of these offerings, but to my ear the selections felt contrived and did not provide me with an "essence" I sensed was missing in my practice.  Thanks to the recommendations that Google and YouTube present when one is researching, I was soon introduced to the music of Huun-Huur-Tu.  I was gobsmacked by what I heard!  Their music is exactly what my inner being has felt out on the Ravenseyrie landscape and what I knew would enhance my indoor practice.  I promptly purchased from iTunes their 2010 album, Ancestors Call.

Huun-Huur-Tu translates literally to "sun propeller".  According to the introduction from Huun-Huur-Tu's website:

"The name of this group describes the effect of vertical rays of light which shine down from the clouds at dawn and dusk - a familiar sight that inspires awe whenever it occurs.  No doubt it's given added drama when projected over the stunning landscapes of Tuva.  This landlocked republic at the heart of Asia is the home of the four-piece Huun-Huur-Tu, whose music represents a re-imagining of traditional Tuvan folklore and is strongly evocative of the natural world."

Sorraias and Ravens at Ravenseyrie

In an a 2011 interview with Tuva Online Huun-Huur-Tu member, Radik Tyulyush, says of Tuvan music, "It is so deep and sensual that nobody can remain indifferent to it.  Tuvan melodies preserve all the sources, the beauty of nature since time immoral.  In my opinion, the listeners are attracted by the purity of the melodies."

I believe what Radik Tyulyush has said is true and for me it is not just the "purity of the melodies" but the earnest feeling with which this quartet plays and sings that I find so moving.  This Tuvan music evokes all that I find so enchanting about Ravenseyire.  When I listen to it, I feel the wind in my hair, hear the sounds of the birds, see the grasses dancing, the wild horses galloping.  Many of the songs of Huun-Huur-Tu has recorded also happen to be a perfect fit with the manner in which I practice Tai Chi and Qigong and provides the same resonance of movement to form that practicing outside in the wilderness gives me.  I'm convinced my dragon swims better when Huun Huur Tu is playing. 

Ravenseyrie in 2008

On a deeper level, one song in particular has become for me a bittersweet reminder of that period of time here on the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve when foals were first born and all the horses were still here together.  A time I find myself again and again longing for, grieving for...

The Domestics and the Wildies, Ravenseyrie 2008

Kongurei (60 Horses in my Herd)

Kongurei is a song of loss...of one's horses, one's people, one's is also a song of love.

Though it came to be that the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve could not fully approximate a vast, unfettered landscape where wild horses could live according to their own dictates without human interference on the limitation of 360 acres (and I do feel the pang of loss that our decision to separate males from the females has created), I remain ever-grateful for having had the opportunity to experience it for the years that we were able to.  I miss the foals being born and the dynamic of a full family band of equines living freely and I know many long time readers of this journal miss that, too. 

Now, however, there are different experiences that are also filled with enchantment - experiences that this blog will continue to document and share.  The horses remain with us, the Manitoulin Island landscape continues to resonate with their energetic presence and the sun still shines with great promise over all our lives.    

Legado and Sedutor, full brothers at Ravenseyrie

This, too, is perhaps what the music of Huun-Huur-Tu does for its listeners - gives them the emotional remembrance of what was, but also infuses it with hope and love for what is "now"... this is certainly how it speaks to me.

Silver Lining Cloud over Ravenseyrie