Friday, 10 February 2012

Walking like John Wayne

It has been a while, but I got finally back in the saddle a week ago. My walk has been rather hilariously wonky since, and my muscles ached so much I could barely cross my legs all week ....probably not a bad thing as this may have been at the root of some of the back trouble in the first instance.

Work has nearly wiped my painting time, but I have been keeping my hand in at at the Art Club with just enough frequency to know that I am not on best form. I have a painting of Merlyn which has been near complete for months...I daren't touch in case I undo what was shaping up to be a nice piece!

New canvas this week, make a commitment to self to do something riding resumes too I do hope the creativity and confidence will return with the love the horse.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Riding out back pain?

A quick post on absence of late, which has been down to frantic activity on the business front. I spent around 5 weeks literally chained to my laptop, and my crumby posture and inability to notice when I need a break has given me more than a little lower back pain.

Thursday's half hour of trotting without stirrups did nothing to shake out the discomfort.  I had rather hoped that it would shoogle the need to visit my chiropractor right out of my spine. No such luck, my appointment on Wednesday is still in the diary. I look forward to being able to touch my toes again after that.

Good news is the business deadlines have eased enough to allow for a little more riding again, so it is time to make up some of that lost ground now, before it all freezes over,

Sunday, 6 November 2011


It is a year since I took a notion to draw some horses at our stables but what a lot happens in a year and I am now enjoying the excitement of my paintings being on show at The Glasgow Art Club. You can't miss them can you, my 'donkeys' as my husband jokingly terms them. It was high time this pair got out as they have been quietly resting  in my dining room since June....I am sure they will enjoy a change of scene. 

A.Cairns, Glasgow Art Club November 2011
The exhibition is by member artists from  The Glasgow Southern Art Club and runs from from now until 26th November, with lots of lovely things to see besides mine, of course! Friday night was the formal opening, I invited some friends and family to enjoy a glass of wine and share some excitement at being 'hung' in such a grand venue.

I overheard someone remark that the one on the rights bum was too large, which I found hilarious! I put the painting up on my blog some months ago, saying 'anyone recognise this horse?' and  Red Hot Ruby immediately chipped in 'It's Snakebite, I'd recognise that big round butt anywhere.' She was right, so I took the gentleman's critique as a compliment!

I joined the Glasgow Southern Art Club about a month ago so I am enjoying finding my feet with lots of interesting people at our Monday night classes. It is lovely to be able to see their work and with around 75 members, I am hoping it will make it a little easier to remember who is who know that I know their paintings.

I am experimenting with a bit of portraiture at our Monday sessions....I have to say, it is not coming easy, I find people much harder than horses, although I have heard it said that horses are hard to paint. It is so much easier to paint something you know and love!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Box rest fall out

Three weeks or so on box rest seemed to have left Ali and I with a flaky Mr Merlyn last week. I went up for my Monday ride on a lovely sunny morning and was pleased to find him in a nice mood while we groomed, so well behaved apart from snatching one foot back early a couple of times.

Then came tacking up when he took a fit of the grumps with me. The sun vanished, it started raining and things started to look a little less idyllic than ten minutes earlier. It took me fully five minutes to do up his bridle and flash while he threatened to bite, and although he didn't follow through I was as narked as him by the time we were done.

I got on for our little walk up the lane - he hadn't been out a while so we were breaking him in gently - and by now the weather was dry again but very windy. He can get spooky in the wind so I wasn't entirely surprised when he got a bit nappy with me....we had both lost our sunny dispositions, though, there was no fooling yourself by now try as you might. I pushed him on with a feigned sack of potatoes 'I ain't worried by your carry on' seat.

What I didn't bank on was him spooking, bolting and bucking just ten minutes up the road.

We stayed put, it was over fast and I got him back together and made him go on a bit further past the things he was taking issue with - and there were a few - before turning back for home. A horse of his size bucking on a road is no laughing matter, even if they were little ones, I had no desire to see his more forceful versions, but I knew we had to go on further, he couldn't get away with it.

He had mellowed a bit by the time we got back down the road, and I was in half a mind to turn him back and take him out again....sometimes I have to check myself. I love riding and I know it involves pushing past fear at times, but as Mum I also have to weigh up the risks.

Ali took him out he next day and had just about concluded that I must have been a bit wound up when out of the blue he did exactly the same to her. Happens to the best of us, it seems!

So, we are 'on a break'  Merlyn and I, while he works through his little issue in the hands of his much braver owner. I have don't have the bottle to take him out on the roads while he is being quite so daft but  I am sure if she can get him back to his cross country and run off some energy, he will mellow again.

Anyhow, I am not letting up on my riding I have been at Hazelden and having some great fun lessons on Dennis, Monty and Rocky, any of whom I would quite happily keep in a moment...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Horse Riding in all Seasons in Scotland

It has been a bit of a month for me behind the scenes here, and life has thrown me an interesting 'opportunity' and with it everything that seemed part of my normal life has been temporarily sucked up into a vortex of application forms, legals and business admin. None of this has anything to do with horses of course, or art, which is quite my point. It's just not the sort of stuff that I think any of you tune in for, so I went uncharacteristically 'quiet'. Me, the out and out blether I am........not a peep. SShhhhh!So, this is my backfill with photos post....

.....hello Merlyn! My last ride on Merlyn was weeks ago, he has had a cut leg ever since, but we will see each other again tomorrow. Such a sweet face when he is in a nice mood. I only ever take a photo after we ride, he is much less grumpy then....

....and it was, your absolutely typical Scottish miserable driech day.....tell me how are you supposed to find a horse in a field that you can't even see to the other side of?

......we could hardly see 20 feet infront of ourselves, frankly a little bit daft as we had no high vis gear on at all. I have mentioned before he is so black it is like a cloak of invisibilty.....big wet black ears and a mane blowing in the wild wind. And to think Ali called me a fair weather rider.... is the view from Merlyn's stable. Yes, I know, he is a lucky horse to live in bonny Scotland with a view like that. You are thinking "It even looks beautiful in the rain"....look out at it every day and your perception will start to change....

...aaah, now this is more like it, may you all have weather like this when you visit Scotland. Fantastic day.....a three hour hack at Craigengellan in glorious September sunshine the whole way....


....three hours is a long time....we go over the hills and far away

....gate locked......ah, which way now?

....if we could just bottle up the this even on the same planet as my earlier photo?

.....idyllic..... looking out over the water....

....on the road back home, all happy and tired....


.....last photo opportunities ...

......and home, big stretch Trio!

What a hack, but guess what, you guys are going to freak.......I never took a photo of the Minature Shetland mare and foal! Ooops. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Interior Design Diversion

A very left of field post here, rather than drawing any horses, yesterday I switched into Interior Designer mode and sketched ideas for a friends living room instead.

Yes, there really are no bounds to my creativity (!) or the rather there is no end to the things that I will do to avoid the mundane chores or much more important things on the 'to do' list. The world can fall apart around me (believe me this week it has been) but as long as the one in my head looks nice, we can all be fine....agreed?

Monday, 12 September 2011

Evolution of a Horse Painting: Part 2

Merlyn ( in progress painting) a.m.cairns 2011
I am at the easel this morning working working on my Merlyn painting, in light of some very high, gusty winds having made their way across the pond to our shores. It is a mostly puffed out version of one of the hurricanes that have been wreaking havoc in North America, but so far the only impact for me is no riding Merlyn today, as I am far too much of a fearty to get on board in wild and wet weather. We will probably have a few trees down later in the day, I would think.

So I am back at the house, listening to music and the howling wind and making good progress. It is coming together quicker than my previous paintings, so either I am getting more confident or is it just much easier when you know the horse well. You can kind of see his expression and very inch that you have groomed and groomed almost without of it without looking too hard at the frees me up a bit, very relaxing too.

I went along to the Braeface jumping yesterday, but Alison had opted out of taking part on Merlyn. She had around a million other things to do and knew too well that the round of jumping plus the prep and waiting around wipe out most of the day and leave her much too exhausted to tackle pressing non horsey matters.

All the same she and I popped along for a look to watch the some jumping. Super cute ponies (and kids) and extremely confident little riders, some as young as six getting ditched at a jump and bravely getting back on (with a bit of parental coercion, it must be said!). The event was vary laid back and fun rather than the seriously competitive with an audience of just the riders and families mostly. I was surprised to see that 'grown up' jumping started at just forty centimetres or sixteen inches to my American friends. You know that's not very high, I have started to think I would like to give it a go sometime.

I have never jumped a course or take part in any horsey events and I had some serious doubt about my ability to remember a jump course, but Ali assured me its not so hard,  that the jumps are set up so that he next jump is usually the easiest to get to. We walked the kids course so that I could see how it worked - you know I have a lousy memory for names, sequences and the like but my sense of direction and visual memory is not so bad and I think I could cope with eight jumps, maybe a few more.  The next event is in a couple of months so if I can get a in few jumping lessons on him, I might just be up for giving it a go.

Ali says the best thing about jumping Merlyn is he is dead honest.....I think I might call my painting that.

You can see it in his face, I hope.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Evolution of Horse Painting: Merlyn

I am working on a painting of Merlyn, who anyone who follows me will know is a horse I have been lucky enough to be getting to know over the last few months.  Here he is, in acrylic on a big-ish canvass

Working back the way, starting at this evening, this is how he looks.... 

Merlyn, In Progress, copyright a.m.cairns

Here he is this morning, when I realised I had overloaded the black and just about vanished his features...

Merlyn, In Progress on the Mantlepiece, copyright a.m.cairns
And here he is on Wednesday Morning, when he was feeling a little blue....

Merlyn, In Progress on the Mantelpiece, copyright a.m.cairns

You saw him in the wet back on Tuesday, which I'll have vanished! I tend to stick up posts of work in progress and then balk at them a few days later when the it is starting to come together, but I really must stop photographing wet work in bad late night light.

He is jumping tomorrow a local competition, so I am going to try to get along and cheer him on....he is normally a Cross Country eventer so it will be interesting to see how he gets on in a tighter space!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Wipe that stupid grin off your face...

I can't.

You see, we went out on a two hour hack at Craigengellan Estate yesterday.

I think the wind must have changed in the middle of one of the dozen or so canters that we had across fields and through woodland tracks, and that excitement and exhilaration got smacked onto my face so firmly that it it's here for at least the whole week.

The smile will not budge. My friends and I had such stupid grins on our faces on the drive back home, we probably looked like we were a more than a little drunk.

Tearing across fields on the back of a horse is surely up there as one of the most incredible things that you can experience in a lifetime. The fact that you can book in to do it all again whenever you like - or can afford to - is just odd, kind of like buying happiness of sorts. They say money can't do that, but I suspect any horse owner knows that this is not an entirely truthful fact.

I feel incredibly lucky to be comfortably off enough to afford this pleasure, if not a horse....although I will keep on buying the lottery tickets in hope.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Honest, it really isn't but a while back I asked if anyone would mind me using their horse photos for paintings. By a complete fluke that I have painted another from Red Hot Ruby.

Chestnut Mare. Copyright A Cairns

This painting looks nothing at all like I thought it would when I started. Realism is not really my natural style, but the watercolours and I had an argument into the early hours of the morning (watercolours don't really like to be overworked!) and by the time I looked at it again in the morning it was either this route or get the charcoal  or acrylics out and start to really muck about.

So the former route got me something finished, I think, although I am in half a mind as to work in a background, but has also left me a more than a little confused.

If it was hanging on a wall in my house, I'm not sure I would recognise it as my own....very odd.

All part of the journey though. I expect it might well push my next painting further in the opposite direction.