Thursday, November 24, 2011

Are You Trapped by Tradition? Free Shipping for Thanksgiving Weekend & Cute Pic of April the Draft Horse Pigging Out

"April Pigs Out for Thanksgiving" photograph by Melissa Klein
Draft horses eat like hobbits - Breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper etc. and probably some other eating occasions that are very important and sacred to their day.  In other words - every day is Thanksgiving!  Particularily when they get into the hay storage tent or break out their "pasture" and go over to the neighbors or break into one of the areas which we have roped off with electric fencing to try to encourage grass to grow.  Luckily, they are really easy to catch - they stop as soon as there is edible grass - in one case, about 3 feet outside the fence.

New Paintings in Artfire Store!
Free Shipping thru Monday 11/28!
HERE to follow link.  
 If you order cards at the same time as an original artwork, shipping is free on the cards - use the coupon code EveryStupidHoliday to take off shipping on cards.

Saturday December 10, 2011
118 1/2 E Front, Port Angeles, WA

5-8:30pm Gallery Reception
8:30-??? Rockin with Super Trees Band
Wine Pour by Harbinger Winery

I am very excited to announce "Every Stupid Holiday" - a solo show at Studio Bob offering gifts of art as an alternative for the "holiday shopping challenged.” Harbinger Winery will be pouring a selection of their splendid wines while “Super Trees” rocks out after the gallery reception.  The Art Front Gallery artists will be in the space next to Studio Bob - ceramics, paintings, jewelry and more! In the weeks following the event, I will be holding gallery hours - which will be announced at a later date.  

Try to "be the change that you want to see" with celebrating the season. "Every Stupid Holiday"  will feature a variety of artwork - with many options for gift giving - from $4 cards, framed & signed prints, small original works for under $100 as well as large-scale new works.  Crackle milk paint, photographs and circus posters - oh my!

"Are You Trapped by Tradition?" 
This Thanksgiving, I have decided to lay low - in part to keep focused on producing work for the upcoming Studio Bob show "Every Stupid Holiday" (Saturday 12/10 5pm-?? - more info below) so I've managed to use one stupid holiday to get out of another.  While I love getting together with family for the traditional meals, and have hosted some "Full Frontal Turkey Dinners" complete with a screaming nephew and a long-distance phone call from my big sister in Boston (who wasn't even coming) with a "You cannot not do the refrigerator rolls that Mom has been making since before we were born!" (Yeah, I caved - but they are good.), this feels right for right now.  I think that the main reason why people feel trapped by the holidays is because they don't feel like they have any options.  So the challenge is - challenge the tradition: make your own.  Tradition is wonderful, if it's enjoyable - if not, then look to make changes and make it more meaningful.  For me, I realized that I need to taking a break and not try and do everything - like everyone else - so much of my time is spent trying to juggle different roles and responsibilities.  This was one that I could let go - and it was a big sigh of relief.  Who knows? Next year might be time for another "Full Frontal Turkey" event - complete with screaming nephews and nieces.  Which would be very enjoyable.

I'm working on a new batch of crackle milk paint backgrounds.  The weather has been so wet and humid, I didn't want to take any chances with the paint not curing properly.  So, I brought the studio tables into the dining room area of our house - and have been happily working next to the kitchen area and the refrigerator and all the food.  I'm experimenting with some new color pallets - and a larger format.   Hawthorne's saddle is in the corner.  Trying to find a saddle that fits Hawthorne and my 6'4" husband was harder than finding jeans that fit. Also, notice the totally chees-ey horse figurines on the windowsill.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Note: This is from personal experience and does not qualify me as a horse expert!!

Click Here to download 10 TIPS FOR HORSE ADOPTION

April, 2 months earlier at the adoption facility

April, 3 weeks after adoption

1. This is NOT the way to get a cheap horse.  Just like adopting a dog or cat from a shelter - expect uncertainty - this animal may have issues that are unforeseen by even the most knowledgable rescue worker. You are offering an animal in need a chance for a better life. There may be health issues related to neglect and abuse.  That said - even a horse that looks shaggy and neglected, with grooming and care can shine up and respond well in a short time.  These pictures were taken only a couple of months apart.  The second one was taken only 3 weeks after we adopted April.

2. Be prepared to learn: every day, I learn new things both about and from our horses.  And be prepared to have your horse not "match" what you just learned about horses. i.e. "Horses do not like to go into enclosed spaces."  So, I left the door open to the house so that I could mop the floor on one of the first days of spring.  April was supposed to be mowing the lawn…. 

April, soon after adoption, ignoring my
spastic attempts to "train" her

April, at liberty in a 3 acre property looking
attentive and wanting to be with me!

3. Don't expect your horse to run to greet you at the gate the first day - many of them have had negative experiences with humans. Trust takes time to build.  But when that day happens - it's amazing. 

My Mom's Reaction to "the News"

Henry & April
4. Make sure that your family and loved ones are on board - having a horse can impact your personal life in unexpected ways.  Your vacation may be canceled because your horse colics, you may have conflicts with your loved ones who don't share the same interest.  It can also draw you closer together as a family activity.

"Hmph" based on my grandma - particularly when she saw snakes on TV
5.  Just like child rearing - everyone has an opinion.  We have been told that a saddle with a full quarter-horse tree should fit a draft horse.  We have been told we are being too firm and too soft with horse discipline. That their diet was wrong.  I have had many well-meaning "experts" give me advice that sounded…crazy!  Sound familiar?  Get a small circle of trusted advisors and follow their advice.

Clallam County Fair Draft Horse pull "competition" - all of the competitors helped each other
6.  Get help!  One great thing about the horse community is the general willingness to help out - and hiring a trainer might be the best money you ever spent.  It can save you so much time, energy and grief.

Hawthorne Sticks Out His Tongue-Again!!!
I taught Hawthorne to stick out his tongue, and I pull it...
Which means that whenever I go to picture of him, that's
what he does... (sigh- he really is a handsome horse)
Hawthorne stuffed into the XXLarge trailer that
we were lucky to get for @ $1,200 with lots o' dings

7.  Horse care can be both cheaper and more expensive than expected.  We have paid as little as $4 per bale of hay and as high as $15 per bale.  Our horses eat roughly a little less than a bale a day.  Then there's supplements, worming, farrier service, teeth floating (What is that? where a horse's teeth are filed so they can eat properly, who would have thunk?), tack, a trailer and truck to get them from one place to another, and hay storage.  Suggestion:  buy enough to hay to get you through the winter and store it - Eastern Washington hay in late spring can cost an arm and a leg.  Buy local.

Notice that Chicken Butt (me) is out of the picture... This is a good thing.

8.  Be safe.  This is a LARGE animal - even a small burro or pony is large enough to inflict some real damage.  A swift kick can break a leg.  Be aware of your space and your horse's space at all times.

April enjoys going into rivers and irrigation ditches but NOT puddles.  I tried for over an
hour, it got dark, I gave up and went home.  (She does this now.)

9.  Be patient. Enjoy the ride as much as the destination.  Don't get too hung up on where you "should" be.

"Leap of Faith" by Melissa Klein
Any leap from the known to the unknown takes courage, even when we are ready
and have laid the foundation for change.... but oh! -How wonderful it is!

10.  Just like the credit card commercials - there's the material cost and then there is the priceless experience.  Having horses has brought me so much joy and it has improved other areas of my life - I am a stronger self-advocate, and a better leader.  I don't get so easily rattled, and am calmer.  In short - horses rescued me as much as I rescued them.  It's a leap of faith.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meet April & Hawthorne the Fab Draft Horses Farm Tour/Harvest Festival Sat 10/1 10am-4pm

"A Good Mother"

April & new-born Hawthorne.   April's hormones kicked in after Hawthorne was born, and she became a very protective mother.  At one point she charged Henry, my husband.  She eventually relaxed and pushed Hawthorne to Henry for an introduction, which was a really special moment.

The Teenage Draft Horse Sticks Out His Tongue

Hi Everyone,

Since I sent out my announcement to my newsletter, a couple of people have contacted me with questions about the event.  Which made me realize, that I probably wasn't clear enough.  Here's a quck overview of the event.

Farm Tour/Harvest Celebration is an event sponsored by Friends of the Field whose mission is "To preserve and protect sustainable agriculture in Clallam County, Washington, ensuring the availability of local food and the quality of life that our rural setting provides."  The purpose of the Harvest Celebration is help the public get to know their local farms.  Several farms open their doors to the public and present their services and goods.  The cost is roughly $10 per car which pays for entrance to all of the farms. 

We will be at Freedom Farm with April and Hawthorne from 10am to 4pm.  Henry and I will be available to make informal talks and answer questions about horse adoption and PMU/Premarin horses.  I will also have my art on display and for sale in a tent next to April & Hawthorne.

We have a long-standing connection to Freedom Farm.  When we first adopted the hugely pregnant April, we realized that we were in waaaaay over our heads.  So we decided to board April at Freedom Farm with Mary Gallagher and Jerry Schmidt and have their support for the happy day.  Freedom Farm is a stable which practices natural horsemanship and the most beautiful horse facility that I have seen - ever!  Mary and Jerry were wonderful - generous with advice, and they slept in a trailer by the field as April was nearing birth.  

Warning - Hathorne has proved be an "extreme ham" at the events - the first year, I went out to check on them and found him was leaning against the fence and spreading out his (then) 1700lb body so that everybody in the small crowd of admirers could pet him.  Last year, we were informed that he was licking babies!!!  He has grown so much - from being the newborn pictured above. That's him on the side bar sticking out his tongue.  I taught him how to do that as a game, where he sticks it out and I pull it, which means that whenever I go to take a picture of him - that's what he does (sigh....)

We hope you can make it out - Farm Tour/Harvest Celebration is a great event for a great cause.  Friends of the Fields has done so much to ensure that Sequim and Port Angeles keeps its farms, which is a vital part of our quality of life on the Olympic Pensinsula. Having the support of knowledgable horse people has been a key element of a successful horse adoption experience - Freedom Farm offers a great facility for boarding, and lessons in Natural Horsemanship.

Best Wishes,

PS - Freedom Farms is offering FREE pony rides for the Harvest Festival!!!!! 

Freedom Farm Map/Directions:

Friends of the Fields:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting Off The Struggle Bus

Naissance (Birth)

Breaking out of a shell isn't easy - and while it may be difficult, and uncomfortable, it's a necessary transition to a new life. The baby dragon is the birth of a new idea and phase in life. The Red Dragon can be understood as either the protective mother or as the baby matured into a powerful adult. 

I was in a dark place when I did this piece - really worried about a work situation, but kept painting anyway. Then I realized - that it was going to be OK.  Because the dragon is a symbol that I have identified with since very early childhood.  

It symbolizes self-nurturing and celebrating a new phase in life.

Hi Everyone,

It has been an incredible summer with many personal and professional breakthroughs. My website has been completely revamped with new galleries that work on android/smart phones, and the iPad, and a store with cards on archival card stock and original art which will be updated with new items every few days. Any feedback is welcome and appreciated.

To thank you, I am offering 25 computer desktop images. They are divided between crackle milk paint images, "circus poster" works and photography. I am launching a short newsletter of newest work, inspirations, and anything funny, often involving our animals (Yes, it's true. Hawthorne, our 1800lb gorgeous black Percheron draft horse drools and sticks out his tongue! He also licks babies.) I've decided to use a more professional mail server called Mail Chimp so that the layouts can be more pleasing, and to ensure that it's a better managed, clean list.

This past spring, I felt stuck and knew that I needed to do something different. I decided to take a class in how to "Uplevel Your Business" by Christine Kane. It changed how I looked at my art and life.  One of the many "Ah-ha!" moments was when I realized that I cannot continue to teach full-time+ hours and pursue my passion as an artist.  I successfully negotiated to work half-days this year.  It was a scary decision - but also a relief. I felt like I was getting off of the "Struggle Bus."  Another realization was I could offer so much more than I had in the past:  better service, inspiration, funny stories, tips on creativity and breaking through blocks and updates on new work.

One thing that has really kept me going was having your support. That you are interested, and care about the kind of work that I do. Even if you couldn't come to an opening, the kind things that many of you wrote, really helped. Just knowing that you were willing to let me keep you informed is a vote of confidence. 

Please go to my website and sign up for your newsletter and 25 computer desktop images. Again, I can't thank you enough for your support and am looking forward to sharing this chapter.  As always, I will never, ever sell or disclose your email address.

May you enjoy the last days of warmth and have a beautiful fall.

Best Wishes, 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Loose Lips on Percheron Draft Horses

April & Hawthorne Hanging Out with Loose Lips

I came out to the studio to do some painting, and was very distracted by both the beauty and the total goofiness of April & Hawthorne with their loose lips.  There is this kind of embarrassing moment with Hawthorne that I didn't quite catch on camera - but I totally saw it out of the corner of my eye as I was filming. 

And... um yeah, I'm one of those crazy people who talks to their animals and then I "channel" what they say back to me in "their" voice.  It runs in my family. Oh look.... the milk truck is pulling up, and with 5 milk men this time. Last time they only sent two milk men.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Courage Forward; Reflection Past

Courage Forward; Reflection Past
Moving forward into new territory takes the courage of the golden horse, but the ghost-white horse also carries the wisdom of past experience. See store for details.

Framing the Questions
Having the right questions can be more helpful than thinking that you have the right answer.  How questions are framed slants the perspective and shapes the reality. For example - how many times have you been hired? How many times have you succeeded?  Now try - How many times have you been fired? Have you failed? Yuck!!!!  But you've probably been hired more than fired (hopefully) and have succeeded at many things. You are the same person either way - but one set of questions makes you feel like a failure, and the other makes you feel good. Both carry their reality. Which reality is more accurate?

I am at a crossroads right now - and am faced with some tough decisions. I also have a good friend who is facing some somewhat similar issues. We both try to live according to the values of honesty and integrity but are faced with unfair situations and people who don't live by those codes. These are some questions that we have been discussing:

  • When do you stand firm and when do you compromise? When is a compromise really a  "cop out?" Is it unreasonable to stand up for yourself and who you are?
  • How do you know when you are ready for change?
  • How do you deal with people who cheat, lie and manipulate and get away with it when you take the high road?
  • Where are the boundaries? Where is that line which you will not cross?

Asking the right questions is the key to finding the answer.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dime Store Horse - Moving Forward or Working on the Answer?

Sometimes I feel like this dime store horse - moving fast but going nowhere. The question is how to move beyond mere busy-ness to gaining traction in creating the life that is desired? What is the catalyst for change? One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received was to "Explore the gray; don't look for black and white answers. Allow for there to be uncertainty and eventually an answer will come to you." Perhaps the dime store horse isn't so much as going nowhere as working on an answer.