Pulling out the orphans, plus…. dressage!

One of the advantages to being able to pursue both commissioned and self generated work is that I get to start on a lot of really cool paintings that I might never get the chance to work on if I were relying on a client commission.  Many clients want a carefully controlled painting, starring themselves, their horses, their dogs or cats, their subject, etc, etc, etc.  Since this is exactly what a “commissioned” painting is, I’m perfectly okay with that!  If you as a client have the idea and the concept (and the money), I will paint whatever you want in any way you may desire.  And hopefully at the end of the (painting) day, we both go away happy.

On the other side, there’s self generated work.  This is work that is done either as a self promotion piece or a learning curve or to fit a possible show theme or simply because you have an idea that you want to try and capture in an “artistic” way.  Since there’s no client looking over your shoulder, there’s no pressure to get it done a certain way, and lots of happy accidents can occur.  On the other hand, unless you are shooting for a predetermined deadline (upcoming show, advertising, etc) there’s no real incentive for you to finish the thing quickly.

Sometimes these paintings sort themselves out wonderfully.  They practically paint themselves, and at the end of the day, you have a nice new piece of art to hang, sell, use, enter, etc.  And sometimes…

… there are the orphans.

Every artist knows what I am talking about.  THOSE paintings.  The ones that are just too cool to throw away, or the ones you’ve invested too much time/work/paint/frustration in to walk away from (or slink away in defeat), or the ones that are really kinda sorta NICE… if you can just figure out 1) what the problem is and 2) how to resolve it. Sometimes I’m rapturously in love with a single square inch of board, and that square inch is the sole reason for the painting’s continued existence.

This is one reason why art studios are usually pretty cluttered, by the way.  It’s very hard to give up on a painting or drawing, and so they get stored away, tucked into portfolios and behind cabinets, and then they multiply like evil little failure rabbits.  But every once in awhile, it’s nice to unearth them from the clutter, dust them off and see if you as the artist (and master of your own destiny) can make some magic happen.

I’ve got a bunch of show deadlines in the next few weeks.  A ridiculous amount, actually, the kind of number that drives me from my bed at 4:00 in the morning to come into the studio.  (Hello everybody!) And this is where the orphans come in handy.

As I write, there are 9 paintings/ drawings hanging out in the studio with me, propped up against walls or scattered on the floor.  After carefully reevaluating them with fresh eyes (some of them have been in an unfinished state for several… years (sigh) now), I think there’s enough promise here in a few of them to pull out the old paintbrushes and make a concerted effort at finishing a few of the damn things, thus putting me at least a few hours ahead from the dreaded “blank canvas” stage I’d be in otherwise with deadlines looming and panic attacks and all that.  Huzzah!  So now instead of having to start and finish a few paintings by… oh, let’s say April 15th… now I only have to FINISH three of them.  And that is much more workable.  (And then start on May’s deadlines!)


Here are a few of my (favorite things) orphans that came under review this morning.  If all goes well, hopefully you will see these guys in their completed incarnation this year in various and sundry venues.

All images © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  www.MoosePantsStudio.com

And then, just for fun, here are a few of the almost 800 (yes, 800) pictures that I took at a dressage show today.  The weather was nice, the horses were gorgeous, the drive was peaceful… not a bad way to spend a Saturday.  These are the moments that make life as an equine artist worth living.  Enjoy!

All images © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  www.MoosePantsStudio.com