|watercolor on paper 14" x 10" 2013|
I always feel a bit self indulgent drawing or painting horses. I mean, literally my very first concrete memory is of drawing a horse while on an airplane with my family. My dad (the artist Robert Paldao) was trying to entertain me, and said 'ok lets draw', and we both drew horses. He said my drawing was better than his, and as I was barely four years old I remember being proud of the fact. Much later, I can recall a long frustrated tirade from my college painting professor about how girls always want to paint horses. I started painting more dogs and cats at that point. And goats. (The bunnies came about later).
In the eighties, when my parents had a farm in New York State, they rented pasture to some guys in NYC for their horses, and among them was a mare named Sheba. She was a large speckled white mare, supposedly quarter horse, though obviously to anyone who knew horses, a horse mixed with something draft or maybe appaloosa thrown in. She was a simple animal, pliable but not very enthusiastic about anything that didn't involve food. With her came her colt Thunder, an impossibly gangling brown-black yearling who had hardly ever been touched by human hands. He had a imperfect half moon crescent on his forehead and his mother's pronounced roman nose. It somehow became my job to "break" him, and having read every book on horses I could get my hands on since I was seven, I was suddenly a 14 year old horse expert. After all, I had trained my beloved Arabian mix Fox to ride.
Through luck, intuition and the advice of the public library (no internet back then), Thunder eventually grew to trust me and other people. Then Memphis came into the picture. I don't really remember Memphis' birth for some reason, but suddenly there was a gray and white foal in the picture, as striking and awkward as his brother, but with the lovely speckled coat of his mom. Memphis was a charming fellow, but could be difficult, more tempered yet possessing a certain spirit his more subdued and fearful brother lacked. As he grew, a certain rivalry grew between them. It helped a little when they were both gelded (a miserable experience, poor souls) but the brotherly challenges continued. I have memories of them play battling in the pastures, rearing up like Mustangs from the West as seen in documentaries, charging after each other over the fields, nipping elbows trying to drop each other. Eventually they had to be separated. Thunder became rather sweet and curious, while Memphis had a bold streak, but always intelligent and willing.
They are both probably gone now, as this was a horse's lifetime ago. I hope they both found good homes in the end, but as they were never mine, I do not know. They were, as I remember it, very beautiful. I still picture them in the summer sun, racing over the rustic pastures of my parent's farm, rearing, sparing, showing off to the ponies, and all the while Fox was there too, showing them who was boss even though he weighed half what they did. There's a lot of those memories in this painting, though this is not a portrait. Two very different brothers, equally matched, and each very unique, showing off as if in a dream.
|Fox, Memphis and Thunder.|