Paintings With Soul

Since October 2006 I've been a daily painter, creating a new pet portrait at least 5 times per week. Over the years I've expanded my offerings to include a variety of animals, pets, race horses, children and other treasured heirlooms. In addition, I accept a limited number of commissions each year.

In 2015 I am honored to be the Kentucky Derby Artist.

You may use the links below right to receive my daily paintings via email or to follow my blog with a feed. I post additional info, including in-process jpgs and other related information, on the studio Facebook page as well.

Meanwhile, thanks
so much for your continued support of my artwork.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Stanchion

At top, detail, below, the entire painting. "Stanchion," 24" x 36", acrylics and water media on gallery stretched canvas, $1599 to the first asking nicely. Inquiries may come to me.

This is why I work and study with other artists - cross pollination and fresh takes on old ideas. "Stanchion" would never have happened without Vianna Szabo's color instruction, Stanka Kordic's introduction to intuitive painting, Lynn Whipple's enthusiasm for drippy paint, Christina Haylett's fearlessness, Ardith Goodwin's constant gentle nudging, and Fonda Clark Haight's mixed media processes. These artists do all the hard work defining their own styles and processes, and then are generous enough to share their enthusiasm with other painters. How lucky am I that I can bring them into my studio every single day!

Thanks, as always, for supporting my art,
Kim

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bound

"Bound (Siren #71)," 24" x 30", acrylics on panel, $899 to the first asking nicely. Inquiries may come to me.

It took me a while to figure this girl out. Which happens with many of the sirens. First I thought she was seeking direction, then I saw that she wasn't lost but merely deep in thought. And then I realized she wasn't truly deep in thought, only still. And this was because there were binds holding her down, limiting her mobility. Ties that are unbending, restrictive, anchoring. And yet, despite these (or perhaps in SPITE of them) it remains green and lush around her feet.

Such are the stories swimming in my head right now.

Thanks, as always, for supporting my art,
Kim

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Cows Cows and Cows

I've been working on cow paintings this last week. The ones above have just returned from their travels to New York.  Clockwise from left:  Dude, 9x12, $469, Girlie, 10x10, $499, and One+One, 8x8, $399. S&H additional, each painting is an original acrylic on museum quality panel. I will combine shipping on multiple purchases. I accept personal checks, paypal and payment plans. Inquiries may come to me.

There's a couple newer ones on my Facebook page - 16x20 canvases - up for grabs. Alfalfa and Bangs. Reach out to me if you are interested in either - they are specially priced at $599 each.

Thanks, as always, for supporting my art,
Kim
  

Monday, October 01, 2018

Change of Seasons

The fall is my favorite time of year. The colors in Michigan are insanely beautiful, and there is the added edge of enjoying time outside before the wintery air moves in. It's like a limited time offer - you have to take advantage of it. So I hope that you are doing the same at your end.

This weekend was a roller coaster, just like fall itself.

After spending the day in the ER with one of my kids (they are ok - don't worry!!), while following the senate hearing committee news on my phone and closed captioned TV, I came home to quickly change out of my pajama bottoms and clean up before heading to the opening reception for the Detroit Society of Women Painters and Sculptors members show.

This is a group with over 100 years of history in Detroit, a membership deeply committed to the arts. The show is amazing in it's variety and quality - if you get a chance to visit The Annex Gallery, it's well worth the trip. I was tickled to learn that "Farewell," a painting sparked by what I perceive as a shortage of dignity and grace in our world, was chosen for an honorable mention.

I followed my Friday up by taking my solo show (at Wine Social) down. Then it was one final push in moving the studio back home. Nearly all the remaining 150+ paintings from my last year of work have been categorized, archived, wrapped and stored. There's about two dozen remaining, which I'll get to later this week. Meanwhile I'm here - home - (in fresh pajamas, mind you) typing this with a cat on my lap and a dog sleeping at my feet. The perks of working from home.

Today will be spent wrapping and shipping purchases made in the past couple weeks. If you missed out on the earlier mention, there are various items available as part of my moving sale - older paintings, some frames, props/toys, books, all sorts of goodies.

I also decided to post a few of my favorite framed pieces as I wrapped and returned them to storage. These are animal paintings that have been exhibited and shared with audiences outside of Michigan, pieces I've held onto because they were favorites. Are still favorites. You can check them out here, and reach out to me if you are interested in a purchase.

I'm off to play with bubble wrap!
Warmly, Kim

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Catharsis

"Catharsis (Siren #67)," 24" x 30", acrylics on panel, $899. Payment plans/check/paypal accepted. Inquiries may come to me.

This weekend My Better Half built me an easel wall in the home studio, which was no small task. That wall had been lined with bookcases which he cut down to hip height and reconfigured for painting and brush storage underneath. This means I can now paint BIG on this wall, while also working small to medium sized pieces on my floor easel - I am so happy about the expansion of my home work space!

This weekend it also became obvious that I need to purge far more than I originally thought. So older inventory, miscellaneous books, some decorative items, and a few of my toy props have been set aside for a quick sale here. You can purchase via commenting on the item you wish, and yes I will combine shipping, provided it is not detrimental to the welfare of your purchase. I will ship items the end of next week and into early October in the order payment is received.. Please check back often, as I will be adding things as they are unearthed.

Meanwhile, the sirens are still showing up. And I'm starting on holiday commissions, too. Can't believe it's already mid-September.

Ok, I'm off to push a little paint around today.
Thanks, as always, for your support, Kim
 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Studio News

It's been a lovely year in the studio - yes, it's been a year already!! Over 65 sirens came to life in this magical space. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to create and push a LOT of paint!

Starting in October, my building will be under construction, getting partitioned into smaller spaces. This will result in additional rental units, but none that will serve my painting process more than my home studio. So over the next few weeks I'll be settling back into my original space, nestled comfortably between the kitchen and family room, with an actual Harry Potter-ish cupboard under the stairs.

And thanks to a wise friend, I'm reminding myself that while this space was pretty darned wonderful, I am the one who brings the magic. And that will come to wherever I find myself working.

If you have a painting you can't get out of your mind, this next week would be idea timing to ask. I have a fair percentage of my inventory - well over 100 pieces - stored at the studio. If I can wrap and ship in lieu to moving them home at the end of the month, I might be inclined to mark them down a bit, so make me an offer.



 
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Becoming, 36" x 36" square, cradeled panel, $1999. Checks/Paypal/Payment Plans accepted. Available.
Detail of Battlement, 24" x  36", gallery stretched canvas, $1599. Checks/Paypal/Payment plans accepted. Available.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Flash Sale!!



Four of the 22 paintings currently marked down for a quick sale. Did some deep cleaning at the studio, which means there's a flash sale going on over on my FB page. Nearly 2 dozen paintings are up for grabs at ridiculous prices - these are mostly pieces that graced my booth back when I did art fairs/events. A few of them are from the first couple years of Painting a Dog a Day!

Take a peek, purchase via commenting on the image you want. Splurge on something fun for yourself!

Thanks as always for supporting my art!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Rose Among the Thorns

"A Rose Among the Thorns," 15" x 30" x 1", acrylics on a gallery stretched canvas, $649 to the first asking nicely. Inquiries may come directly to me.

Because no matter how stabby life can get, there will eventually be something insanely beautiful that comes from the tangled mess.

Special thanks to Cedar Knoll Farm for sharing their marvelous Dexter as inspiration for this painting.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Dregs of Summer

"Battlement," Siren #55, 36" x 24" x 1-1/2", acrylics on cradeled panel, $1599 to the first asking nicely. Yes, I can ship worldwide and yes I will set up a payment plan. Inquiries may come to me.

The summer is nearly over here in Michigan - literally and figuratively. This is The Princess' last one before starting college, and we have tried to make the most of it. She has one full week left before returning to the books and the dance studio. I find myself getting teary unexpectedly - there's so much I still need to teach her. I suppose I will never feel as though I've given any of my kids enough.

That bittersweetness of this time spent on the cusp of independance (both hers and perhaps mine as the boys are also making rumblings about moving) is trickling into my paintings. I find that recent sirens are introspective, meditative and asking for clarity. They are teaching me how to navigate things.

Speaking of learning, I've got my fall classes scheduled - if you are looking to explore your understanding of color or simply want to try your hand out with a paintbrush, please consider spending a few hours with me here in the studio. I've got a full calendar of scheduled programs and also have room for a couple private students. All that information is on my website or Facebook page under Events.

Looking further out into next year, I will be offering online mentoring for those artists wishing to deepen their connection with creativity through in depth modules focused on drawing, color, composition and design. Reach out to me directly for more information.

I'll close this note with a bit of puppy cuteness. Blue Dawg joined us this week - he's an australian shepherd mix who crossed our path unexpectedly. It was love at first sight. He's been settling in well, and I imagine I'll be painting him soon. Speaking of which, it's that time to reserve your holiday portrait spot - there's only one of me, and I can only paint so fast. Portraits make the most fabulous gift, but they take a bit of planning and lead time to make happen. I'm here and ready to start that conversation.
 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fall Class Schedule

Hello hello!! Hope you are having a lovely August - I'm settling into the finishing touches on a number of siren paintings and ramping up for a wonderful fall exhibition schedule. Perhaps I will see you at an opening or two.

Meanwhile I've just released my class schedule through the end of the year. There's lots of opportunities for you to come create with me in Lake Orion (Michigan) or via an internet connection.
  • Art Journaling continues to meet on the 3rd Thursday of each month.
  • I have two Pet Portrait sessions scheduled - one in September, another in October..
  • Several still life options, including one focused on whites, another on value jumps (painting ribboned gifts), and a third on color using donuts as props.
  • And two installments of the Paint Like classes, one with Modigliani styled portraits, another with a Klimpt-ish composition.
Additional information for each class is available via the links above, or you may view the whole calendar here.

These classes are limited to 4 (plus 1 Facetime spot where applicable) and fill up quickly, so if you are interested, reserve your seats now. A $20 non refundable deposit will hold your spot, with the balance due the day of class. Some of the classes also have the added option of a materials fee, so that you don't have to invest in all the art supplies up front.

I look forward to creating with you!
Talk soon, warmly, Kim

PS I can squeeze one pet portrait into September. First one to respond kindly gets it!! Also, now is the time to start conversations about any end-of-year commissions you would like, because my calendar fills fast!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Pet Portraits

Kimberly Kelly Santini 
paintings with soul
because our world needs more beauty
 
"Bailey and Charlie," 12" x 12" x 1/22", acrylics on museum quality cradeled panel, commissioned portrait and heading home soon.

They no longer flood my various social media feeds, but I do still create one or two pet portraits each month. Because when all is said and done, there is nothing quite like delivering an original image that melds memories and emotions into the perfect summary of my clients' relationship with their special family members.

Prices start at $399 for museum quality original paintings. I work from copyright free reference photos and your stories to create a treasured family keepsake. Turnaround is dependent upon my current workload, but averages several months (and can be much longer near the end of the year), so please plan accordingly. Inquiries may come directly to me.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Changes on the Horizon

"Becoming," 36" x 36" x 2", acrylics on a cradeled panel, heading to "Motherhood," a juried exhibition at The Anton Art Center in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Inquiries may come to me.

I have been sending almost daily (I know it's not been nearly that regular as of late) newsletters since October of 2006. That's 12 years of regular correspondence. Some of you have been with me through all of this - the Painting a Dog a Day journey, raising funds for animal welfare, the wine label award, my book publications, the Kentucky Derby adventure, a shift in focus to florals, and finally the Sirens.

I cannot thank you enough for your willingness to continue to look at what I was painting, to hear my thoughts, and to support me via your feedback, encouragement, and even purchases.

And for those of you who hopped on partway through this marvelous trip, thank you for sticking around. I know that a big piece of my continued motivation is the fact that I feel accountable to you, my audience. Because of you, I  showing up to the studio and do the work. Even on the hard days - especially on the hard days - when I don't feel well or particularly when I spend too much time listening to my inner critic.

You keep me going.

And in return, I share glimpses of my process and creations as a thank you.

Clearly things have changed a bit over the past year, as my newsletters have drifted from 3-4/week to 3-4/month. I attribute that to my shifted focus on process and preparation vs creating something crafted to share in the moment. This is a necessary shift, I believe, in order to make authentic paintings that resonate deeply and carry merit beyond conveying a likeness or particular moment in time. I am striving to paint things that are further reaching and deeply personal, and as such, this involves introspection, reflection, and working at imagery that transcends likenesses. The resulting mess inside my brain isn't nearly as pretty to photograph and post - and often what spills from my brushes doesn't immediately make sense even to me.

The complexity of the content I am visualizing - women's voices and solidarity - lends itself to weeks of revisions. This is a difficult thing to channel into regular postings, and sometimes the effort of reeling in my spinning thoughts so as to order them into a coherent newsletter is daunting. And I duck out, because to force a shift in direction from mad caped mayhem to a bulleted outline  - or even just a couple of sentences - seems monumental.

I want to assure you that the increased silence at my end as of late is not because I no longer care that you are out here. It is because I am listening all the more carefully to what my heart and muse are telling me, and making certain that I hear their voices clearly enough so that when I do understand their message, I am able to properly capture it in paint and then share with you.

The frequency of my mailings will be shifting, but I hope the content will be just as relevant and interesting. Because I am no longer creating a finished work daily, I have decided (sadly) to let my membership with Daily Painters lapse - it didn't seem honest to continue with them as my focus had so drastically shifted. I can't say enough beautiful things about this group in particular and all the inspiration they provided during my artistic evolution.

I encourage those of you who wish to see regular updates and studio insights to follow my facebook page or instagram feeds in lieu of watching your email inboxes. And for those of you who are content with emails, thank you for that.

My business would be nothing without each of you, In some way you have encouraged and helped to spread the word about what I was creating/supporting. I truly hope that this relationship will not change.

Art has been my gateway to stepping into life's challenges, and my family will say it is what keeps me sane. I continue my commitment to sharing these bits of real world moments with you each through my newsletter, and most importantly, through my imagery.

Thanking you from the bottom of my heart for your support,
Love, Kim

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Mini Watercolor Paintings

The first of my mini vacation watercolors, this is "Penn State Tree #1," watercolor and metallic inks on a circular piece of watercolor paper, roughly 6" in diameter, $50 (includes s&h inside the US).

How is it possible that my last newsletter was June 11th? I'll tell you how - the past few weeks have been spent scrambling with numerous deadlines, commitments, and prepping for a vacation and The Princess's dance nationals.

We have been on the road for 6 days now and it's been quite the adventure so far! We toured Penn State's campus, spent time with family, visited Chincoteague and Assatuague Islands, and spent a day at the beach. Along the way, I'm painting small watercolors of our adventures, each of which will be available for purchase through my Facebook page, starting at $45.

This is the only newsletter I plan to send for the next week, so please, if you are interested in grabbing one of these little gems, make a point of checking the link regularly. I've got a number of paintings ongoing, and will be uploading them as time (and internet connectivity) allows.

I'll ship all purchases out after the 4th of July holiday. And yes, I'll combine shipping on multiples. Hope that I get to send at least one your way!

Meanwhile, dance like you mean it! Our team sure is!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wabi Sabi (done)

Detail (full painting below, please scroll down), "Wabi Sabii" 24" x 48", acrylics on panel, $1499 to the first asking nicely. Please send them directly to me.

I've been working on a couple of surprise commissions, but in between waiting for my clients' feedback I've been working away on this one. And boy do I love her.

Wabi Sabi is essentially the acceptance of brokenness. A celebration of it, in fact, as in Japanese tradition a broken bowl is repaired with a vein of gold. It remains useful and all the more beautiful because of it's cracks.

I embraced that idea with my newest selfie, wrapped in my favorite shawl and bearing my own gold repaired cracks. I'm proud to bear scars - they mean I've lived my life without bubble wrap, and that my heart and head have experience I can lean on as I continue to roll with the punches.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Wabi Sabi Selfie


In process "Wabi Sabi Selfie," 24" x 48", acrylics on panel. Not currently for sale, but inquiries are always welcome. Please send them directly to me.

This week I have:
  • submitted a grant application
  • entered two big deal to me juried competitions (that I fully expect to be rejected from, but one never knows and if one never asks, one never knows)
  • taught several classes
  • glazed, wrapped and posted 4 paintings to new homes
  • booked 5 new commissions
  • deep cleaned the studio
  • coordinated the return of work from a show in Pennsylvania (which reminds me I've not gotten shipping confirmation yet, so I should follow up with them on Tuesday)
  • marketed/promoted my summer classes and workshops (although I'm realizing I neglected to do so via this blog, so here is a link)
  • researched exhibition opportunities through the fall
  • coordinated the transition to online entry for the Thumb Area Art Exhibition
  • read 2 art books (One Hundred Hands and What It Is)
  • paid bills and analyzed the studio budget
  • researched stencil making and encaustic techniques
  • continued planning and building content for online instruction
So much of being an artist has nothing to do with making art. None of the above involved picking up my brushes and somehow it's been a week since I last posted. I've been going a little mad - painting keeps me sane - and so when I discovered a couple of hours today, I jumped right in - this one is about about strength in the face of sorrow. Our world seems drenched with it, that's for certain.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. Remember those who sacrificed so you could have. Be kinder to all. Make a dog's tail wag.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Day My Heart Exploded

Detail of Siren #41, "The Day My Heart Exploded," full painting is 24" square, acrylics on panel. Not currently for sale, but inquiries are always welcome. Please send them directly to me.

This painting is a self portrait - while the likeness is not mine the emotional state most definitely is. This morning there was yet another school shooting. I cannot understand why our children are killing each other. 

This siren came from my gut. There's others still in there. I imagine they will show up in the coming days.

May your children all come home safely tonite.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Showing Up

So yesterday was one of those days. I came into the studio and looked at my new work and was convinced they all were crappy and self indulgent. Poorly drawn, meaningless, wastes of paint.

We all have days like these, don't we?

I think mine happen when I'm exhausted - they tend to show up after a long stretch of crazy inspired painting. Days - sometimes weeks - strung together of manic production and very little reflection.

And that's when her voice shows up. You know the one. She tells you that you know nothing, you are wasting your time, that nobody will every truly understand your paintings because they are muddled, ugly and trite.

So when She shows up (I call her Betka after an elementary school teacher I had multiple run-ins with), I let her rant. I write down what she says in my studio journal. I acknowledge her questions. And then I paint right overtop of them. Preferably with something glittery and fancy.

And then I return to the easel, pick up my brushes, and get to work.

Because the most important thing is to show up, regardless of what she says. She's always going to be there nagging and cutting me down. I just can't let her win.

On an entirely different note, The Princess and My Better Half surprised me with a baby bunny on Mother's Day. They knew my heart had been achy ever since our last bun passed, and orchestrated this marvelous whole thing where I thought we were road tripping to pick up a car part from craigs list and instead the guy answered the door with a baby bunny in his hands. Of course I started crying and the guy was immediately concerned that I was that crazy lady who was never going to leave without ALL the bunnies in her car (people, the mom in me has to say, complete your transactions on public property, please!!). But The Princess assured him I cried at everything cute and tiny, and then all was well.

Anyway, the little guy is adorable. He's doing binkies and flopping about and teeth purring and wriggling his way into every lap possible. And this is his first time on my easel - I give you a very sleepy Mr. Beanie Bates. If you are so inclined to add his portrait to your collection, let me know - this one is 8"x8"x1-1/2", gallery stretched canvas with the image wrapped around the sides. He's $149 to the first asking nicely. THANK YOU!

 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Derby Day!!

Friday, May 04, 2018

The Guardians and Stand Tall

From left: "The Guardians" and "Stand Tall", both 24" x 48", acrylics on panel, each $1499 plus s&h. Yes pleases and inquiries may come directly to me - thank you! 
First off, I have been overwhelmed with your love and support during this week's venture through my Derby Experience in 2015 and how it changed my life. Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out and let me know how my paintings and personal journal have impacted you. You inspire me to continue onwards, and I am humbled.

These two paintings were the next logical step from yesterday's Gentle. I had embraced the horse as my spirit animal, so then I borrowed him as a stand in as protector for the world at large. When these two paintings were done (September 2017), there were mass tragedies and acts of terror happening all over the world. It seemed as if we were incapable of taking care of our neighbors, ourselves, and our Mother Earth.

Pops of light became bits of hope. Or souls reluctant to leave until their loved ones found closure. Strata represented humanity's history, often an ill fated one of cruelties and greed.Painted cells represented communities or groups needing protection and love. The horses stood guard, unable to prevent, but as a beacon of strength.

A random criticism of these works, that they were too "literal," got me thinking about how I could step deeper into a visual language to communicate my own disconnect from reality. I couldn't bear to tun into the news for fear of what calamity was to overshadow the previous days news. But hat sort of subject matter could I embrace that fell so far outside my comfort zone that I couldn't help but not be literal?

Duh.  The human form.

And thusly, the Sirens were born. October 2017.

A larger studio followed shortly after, and now (May 2018) I'm over 50 Sirens in to the series. With no sign of stopping.

Tomorrow I will share my first equine sirens.

Meanwhile, may the fourth be with you.

Here's the link to a photo essay of my Kentucky Derby journey, in case you missed it yesterday.
Also, another link to Monday's post about my artistic growth.
Here's Tuesday's post and my childhood passion for Walter Farley books.
Wednesday's post about my Grandpa.
Thursday's blog on how painting led me to a life of authenticity.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Kentucky Derby Week - Do not go gentle into that good night

"Do not go gentle into that good night," 14" x 18", acrylics on panel, $599 plus s&h. Inquiries may come directly to me - thank you!

Three years ago I was the official artist of The Kentucky Derby. I was fully aware that this experience, pretty much the pinnacle of my career to date, gave me permission to move on.
I already had been trying to re-brand myself - after doing pet portraits for 15 years, 7 years of daily creating inside that, I had long been ready for a change. And I had been suffering from creative burnout for over a year - I desperately needed to mix things up.

But I was clueless where to turn. My daily painting practice involved such an intensive focus on producing, and I hadn't built in much time for introspection. That was the first change - to give myself permission to slow down and stop focusing on the painting count and start focusing on the paintings' integrity.

Extensive journaling, both visual and written, and many conversations with other creatives guided me. I came to recognize an interest in painting my own life experiences. I began sifting through emotions, relating them to objects and colors and built a visual vocabulary of symbolic content. I threw away the conventions of literal space, and treated my visceral reactions as valid content to fill the painting's surface.

Which is where this painting came from. It began with the death of my maternal grandmother, who I loved fiercely and was blessed to have in my life until my mid-40s. Then within the span of 18 months I lost other pivotal people in my life: my mentor, a dear friend, one of my teenager's friends, my other grandmother, a friend's little son, a beautiful parent and friend, the magical parents of my childhood bestie, my father in law, my son's second mother. I was reeling from one loss to the next.

There was an ice storm one evening while I was at a funeral home. When I stepped outside into the night, the cool air soothed my heart - cradeled it gently and for the first time in a long while I felt safe. Then I heard music of the most delightful sort, almost like fairy chimes. I looked up to find myself underneath an ice encased crabapple tree, it's delicate branches singing as they gently shifted about, all brilliantly lit by a full moon. There were fairies there, dancing on the glass covered limbs, flashing about. And I heard my friend, the one who would be buried the following day, whisper. All is fine. All is fine. And the fairies continued to skip about and the cool air traveled into my lungs and heart.

That moment was pivotal - My story wasn't about what had happened to me - it was about what I was doing while things were happening to me. And what was to happen in the future. And I needed to make paintings about this.

All those years of daily painting were not going to waste - I knew how to draw, I knew how to capture the nuance of a gesture, I knew how to paint eyes that follow the viewer about. All that was left was learning how to listen to my emotions and paint an authentic response.

It's been tremendously challenging, but also intensely rewarding, this new direction. I am learning to speak through my brushes. To not apologize for myself. To live with intention and to honor my instinct. To commit to making art, whether it be good or bad, but mostly, just to show up.

And to not go gentle into that good night.

Here's the link to a photo essay of my Kentucky Derby journey, in case you missed it yesterday.
Also, another link to Monday's post about my artistic growth.
Here's Tuesday's post and my childhood passion for Walter Farley books.
Yesterday's post about my Grandpa.

Champion

Champion, 6" x 8", acrylics on panel, depicting American Pharoah, the Kentucky Derby winner the year I was the Derby artist. Reproductions available here.

We are halfway through Kentucky Derby Week. Three years ago I was the official artist of The Kentucky Derby. And for the first time in 37 years, the Derby winner went on to win the Preakness and Belmont, securing a Triple Crown. And I saw the first leg in person from my seats at the wire.
My Grandfather and I shared a passion for horse racing. We watched the Derby together every year, sharing stats and guesses during the prep races. When he and Grandma retired they moved to Arkansas where he quickly became a regular at Oaklawn Park. About that same time, he became a fervent supported of the Arkansas Derby winner, something rather uncommon in the late 80s. Our Derby Week consults were initially letters, then phone calls, then Facebook messages. What I wouldn't give to hash over the morning line with him again. Or to have been able to share my Derby Artist honor with him at my side.

I did the next best thing that first Saturday in May 2015, 5 years after his passing - I bid on the Arkansas Derby winner because I knew that's what he would have asked me to do. So when the horses came round the final turn and American Pharoah had taken the lead, the sound of the crowd was a far away echo in my head. Instead I was engulfed in one of Grandpa's trademark bear hugs, complete with the brush of his whiskery cheek.

I got to share my day with him after all, not as my silly little selfish head had imagined, but in an entirely deeper level that honored our connection.

Here's the link to a photo essay of my Kentucky Derby journey, in case you missed it yesterday.
Also, another link to Monday's post about my artistic growth.
And another one to yesterday's post and my childhood passion for Walter Farley books.

Who have you shared your love of racing with?
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