I have many people talk to me while I paint on location. Most are amazed that I will paint out in the elements. Artists, that have never tried it on the other hand, ask me with a curl in their lip and a ewe in their voice “Don’t the fire ants, flies, bees, wind, rain, heat, and cold drive you crazy?” And I reply “the only problem I ever had was with some run-away horses and one loud barking dog!”
This story begins on a cool, very blue, early fall morning. I said good-bye to my daughter as she boarded the bus for school and, like a sprinter running for the finish line, I threw my Julian Easel in the back of my car and down the road I went. I had the perfect spot in mind, a little road not far away, with hardly any traffic.
As I drove up I noticed the field was scattered with large rolls of hay. With fall colors beginning to show, I hoped I’d have the makings of a nice painting. I found a place to park which, I might add, was somewhat difficult because the road was so narrow. The only level spot for me to set up was about five feet from my car and a foot away from a barbed wire fence. I thought, this is great, the car works as a wind break and the fence will keep the horses from eating my paint.
Generally horses are curious but don’t bother me. I only have to watch for the one in the group that will either try to nibble on my shirt or eat my paint. On this day they just gave me a who-are-you-look and turned again to their munching. As I paint time becomes meaningless. Minutes flow into an hour and the sun grows warmer when I slowly become aware that I have been hearing a dog barking in the distance. I think it has been doing so for quite some time. It is at this time I also hear “ #x@&! BOO, GET BACK HERE....NO! CLOSE THAT GATE!."
Now the barn, that I assume this commotion is coming from, is a long way from me and down a fairly steep hill. There is one small rise in the hill so that all I see of this barn is the roof. I think, wow wonder what is going on down there? So I return to my painting and soon after the first few strokes I faintly hear hoof beats galloping on the pavement. I then notice the barking has gotten louder and the shrieking men sound frantic. I am vaguely beginning to realize that this may not be a good thing for me. The road is narrow but surely if horses are headed my way then they would take the widest path, the road…Right? WRONG! As the horses top the rise and dip below the hill before me I consider how fast I might be able to gather my easel and jump in the car. Well…. If you have ever tried to fold up a Julian Easel fast you would know how silly that thaught was. So I think, I can just wave the horses away…. Ha, as they topped the hill, with a barking dog at their hooves, three crazy men in an old red pickup, the passenger door flying open, a four-wheeler at their side, and one deranged sole in the back of the pick-up screaming “ #x@&! BOOOO ” the horses decided that the most appealing path was between me and my car. I believe the horses were as surprised as I was when all seven of them came galloping past me, in single file, one even turned around and looked at me and my painting; its always nice to be noticed. To this day I don’t know how I didn’t get stomped into the ground. The men, dog, horses, and four-wheeler disappeared over the next rise; I wonder what happened when they came to the tee in the road at the top of the hill. I never heard another sound from them, birds began to sing again, the flies made themselves known, and I, taking a deep breath, had the finishing touches to put on my painting.