Posted on Leave a comment

Motivation Monday – August 3, 2020

Photo of a chestnut colored horse being ridden in a sand arena, with the words Motivation Monday in the lower right corner

Happy new week, everyone! I hope that August has been great so far for all of you. My August started off by vending at a small outdoor event at a local vintage market here in the area. It was a decent weekend, though very hot and we had to pack up a bit early on Saturday because of storms that were blowing in. I made back the money I spent on the booth space, plus a little more, so all-in-all it was a success. 

This week I have a combination of different types of quotes. I hope you enjoy them and that they start your week off on a positive note!

 

Which of these quotes is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Posted on Leave a comment

Dealing With a Mystery Ailment with One Of Our Horses

I’ve been quiet on the blog this week because Raven, my best friend’s horse, has been sick with a mystery ailment. It’s been very stressful and frustrating to deal with, made even more frustrating by the fact that we still don’t know what happened.

We first really noticed something was wrong on Sunday when we were brushing the horses and getting ready to work them. Raven’s lower front leg had some swelling on it and she seemed very dull. She had a fever. We attributed the swelling to stomping on flies and the dullness to it  being so god-awful hot. Raven didn’t get worked on Sunday, just hosed down for the feven. We hitched Glory to the cart instead and let Raven out into the field to eat while we rode around.

Later on, we started realizing that Raven’s “dullness” had been present for a few days. She hadn’t wanted to leave the barn after dinner or breakfast, despite normally rushing out of her stall. At the time we’d also thought this was because of the heat and flies.

By Sunday night, Raven’s back legs were swollen and she had an even higher fever. We made arrangements for the vet to come the next day. Monday was the hottest day we’ve had in PA so far this year, with a high of 97. We had the horses in their stalls all day with fans on them, but Raven’s temperature was still over 104F. The vet came and did an exam, took blood, and then gave her a dose of antibiotics. They were pretty sure we were looking at a tick-borne illness.

We’ve continued with antibiotics and rest for the past five days. The blood test didn’t reveal a tick-borne illness so we still aren’t sure what illness Raven had. She has been responding to the antibiotics and an Iron supplement and is almost back to her normal self at this point. But dealing with this mystery illness in the middle of a heat wave has not been good for productivity. Hopefully by next week I’ll be back on track. Raven has been improving every day. We’ve been monitoring both horses because if Glory starts exhibiting the same symptoms we need to have the vet back out immediately. 

So yeah, that’s only some of the crazy stuff that’s been going on this week. Hope you guys don’t mind the more personal blog post this time. And I hope you all are safe and healthy out there!

Posted on 1 Comment

Motivation Monday – July 20, 2020

Photo of a chestnut colored horse being ridden in a sand arena, with the words Motivation Monday in the lower right corner

I wanted to try doing a new series on the blog where I post my favorite quotes each Monday. Today’s post is all about horses, but I hope to put quotes about art, business, and more in the future! I hope you enjoy the following five quotes about horses and horseback riding. I love these sayings!

Photo of a woman standing with a horse, looking at each other. The photo is in silhouette. Text on the photo reads "A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient horse walks in front of you, a noble companion walks beside you."

Which of these quotes did you like best? What are some of your favorite quotes? Share them with me in the comments below!

Posted on Leave a comment

Funny Video: Horse Breeds Going Through Water

As someone whose horse won’t step a hoof in water unless another horse goes in first, this video made me laugh out loud!

 

Does your horse love the water or hate it? Have you ever gone swimming with your horse? Let me know in the comments!

Posted on Leave a comment

Five Mistakes Artists Make When Starting Their Career

I have made a lot of mistakes when starting my art career. I’d say that I’m still in the process of really starting my art career! Or, at least, getting it to where I want it to be. Because I’ve been trying to really start my career, I’ve been doing a lot of research about how to do it and have found out there are some mistakes that are pretty common to make when starting an art business! So I wanted to share a list of five common mistakes that artists make when starting their career that I’ve made too. 

Mistake #1: Selling Themselves Short

One of the biggest mistakes that artists make in their career is selling themselves short. I still see artists (especially in the anime and comics community, but it happens elsewhere too) who are selling their art for literal pennies. Some of these artists are hobbyists who aren’t looking to make a living and I think they still shouldn’t be selling their work for so low, but many of these artists are trying to make creativity their career and are making the equivalent of $2 an hour in some cases because they’re selling themselves short! Your skills and your time have worth, and you must take this into account when doing your pricing. MessyEverAfter has a great post about how to price your art, complete with ranges for everyone from the art dabbler to the seasoned artist.

Mistake #2: Not Tracking Finances

I get it, looking at the numbers isn’t fun for most artists. I’m the stereotypical type of artist who hates numbers. I’m still completely intimidated by looking at the money side of things. But the truth is that you MUST look at the money aspect when trying to start a business. And the earlier you start the easier it will be to keep up with. If you’re trying to make a living from your art, you need to know where your expenses are and how much profit you’re actually making so that you know if what you’re doing is working or not! You can find Studio Expense and Income spreadsheet templates online, or if you want something a bit more detailed, I use Wave Accounting to track my income from various sources and my expenses. It’s pretty easy to use and I can see where my money is going and where it’s coming from. I like Wave because I can set up my bank account with it and it will automatically import my transactions, so some of the bookkeeping is done automatically for me, and I just go in and add cash sales, PayPal sales, and double-check the bookkeeping monthly to make sure everything is accurate.

Mistake #3: Not Taking Deposits for Commissions

One of the biggest mistakes that new career artists make is not taking a deposit on commissions. I’ve seen so many artists get burned on doing custom work! If you are going to take commissions, you MUST get a deposit before starting work. I know that seems uncomfortable for some artists! They think about what would happen if they can’t complete the work or if the commission turns out poorly. Deposits are crucial though, for several reasons. First, they weed out the customers who aren’t serious about commissioning you and may otherwise waste your time. Some customers are excited by the thought of commissioning an artist, but they never follow through on the money exchange. Requiring a deposit also ensures that you don’t waste your time and materials on a piece that you’re not going to get reimbursed for. Remember, your time is valuable! If a customer is serious about getting a commission from you, they should be willing to give a deposit.  It pays you for the time you’re going to spend on their art. I require a 50% deposit that is not refundable before I even put pencil to paper and begin a sketch. This ensures that my materials are paid for in case the customer vanishes on me once the piece is done. 

Take a look at my commissions page for an idea of my prices and policies!

Mistake #4: Trying to Sell “What’s Popular”

Another big mistake artists make when starting their career is trying to figure out what’s popular. They then draw that in an attempt to cash in on that subject. I see this in both the “fine art” community and the anime and comics community. In the community of pop-culture convention artists that I’m part of, posts abound that ask “what shows are popular right now?” One of my favorite art YouTubers, Rafi Was Here Studios, talks often about how he was told to paint “beach scenes” when he began because he’s based in Florida and beach scenes are popular there. Now, I’m not saying to never, ever draw or paint what’s popular. However, you should create things that you are passionate about instead! If I create art of snakes because snakes are popular, but I’m not passionate about snakes, then it’s probably going to show in the art and in my interactions with customers about the piece. Your passion for the subject will come across in the finished piece! 

I actually made this mistake back when I was still heavily in the anime art community. I drew a lot of “chibi” characters, some from shows that were popular at the time but that I hadn’t seen. Fans of those shows at my convention tables trying to talk excitedly about the characters and show to me. But I had to admit, sheepishly, that I’d never watched the show and had no idea who the characters were. It was pretty embarrassing and not something I’ll be doing again!

Mistake #5: Using cheap materials

The final mistake that I see a lot of new artists making is cheaping out on their materials. I am absolutely not saying that you must go buy the most expensive materials to be a successful artist! I’m also not saying that expensive materials will make your art better. However, if you’re trying to get collectors to pay a premium price for your art, but you’re purchasing your materials from the Dollar Store, the art isn’t going to hold up. Try to buy the best materials you can if you’re doing traditional media (paint, colored pencil, pastel, etc). Try to get the best hardware and software you can afford if doing digital art. Not only will your art pieces last longer because of light-fastness and acid-free materials, but you’ll save time too! When I first started my horse drawings, I used a mid-range set of beginner colored pencils from the art store. They weren’t spectacular, but they weren’t the cheapest pencils ever. Then I was lucky enough to get a set of Prismacolor Colored Pencils and the amount of time I’ve saved is crazy! Because they have more pigment and better coverage than the cheaper pencils, I can create my pieces faster. So get the best materials that you can to start out with, then upgrade as your income grows. You’ll thank yourself later, and your collectors will appreciate the better materials too!

Which of these artist mistakes have you made? Or have you made some that aren’t on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted on Leave a comment

Four Surprising Ways that Horses Changed My Life

Horses are incredible creatures who inspire wonder in those who see them. Horses have the literal ability to change lives, through therapeutic riding programs, outreach to convicts, and to inner-city children. And horses have changed my life in many, many ways over the past seven years.

There is something calming about being near horses. They teach us not only how to listen, but also how to speak. They teach patience, strength, perseverance, and so much more. I can definitively say that horses have completely changed my life. It’s why I’m so passionate about them and try to give back to them by telling their stories and their history. 

I wanted to share with you today a list of 4 surprising ways that horses have changed my life.

Horses changed my life by teaching me how to break big goals into small ones.

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and knew from a young age that I wanted to be successful as a business owner. Over the years that I’ve been really trying to be able to pay my bills with my art I’ve sometimes lost sight of the little things. Instead of being happy with the sales I did make, I’d get sad and disappointed over not making more sales. Instead of researching to find better ways of marketing myself, I’d lament that I wasn’t becoming an overnight success. And, worst of all, I compared all my perceived shortcomings to those who were living the type of life that I wanted. 

Working with horses has taught me to look at the smaller steps that lead to bigger goals. Before you can canter, you must learn how to trot. And before you can trot, you must learn to walk. The larger goals need to be broken down into smaller steps. Those smaller steps aren’t any less important than where you want to ultimately end up! They are simply the way to get to the destination.

Horses changed my life by teaching me how to be more confident.

Being able to get a thousand-pound prey animal to agree to work with you requires quite a bit of confidence. When I first starting working around horses, I was intimidated. I didn’t know how to communicate with this animal and not get pushed around. I wasn’t confident enough to take charge and be the “herd leader” at first. My horse took advantage of me often back then! 

After a while though, I found the confidence to take charge. I learned that if I believed in myself and was more assertive, I could get the results I wanted. And being confident and asking for what I want didn’t necessarily mean being cruel or “bossy”, but rather just being the leader and letting my team know what is expected of them. 

Horses changed my life by teaching me mindfulness.

Horses take what we give them and reflect it back at us. If you are angry, your horse is going to pick up on that. If you’re afraid, horses will pick up on it and become spooky and afraid themselves. Being around horses, especially doing groundwork and riding, has taught me that I need to be mindful of what I’m feeling .

There is no room for anger or sadness in the saddle. When I go to the barn to spend time with my equine therapist, the rest of the world melts away. Because I know that I must have the right mindset when around my horse, it’s the best way I know to clear my mind. Solutions often come to me at the barn or in the saddle because I am not focusing on the problem. When I detach from the emotion, I can come up with a plan of action.

Horses changed my life by giving me deep, meaningful friendships.

I’ve never been a social butterfly. I’m an introvert who spent most of her childhood inside, reading books, drawing, and playing video games with her older brothers. I have always had very few friends growing up. My social circle usually consists of one or two close friends who I can confide in and who I consider my “best” friends.

But horses have brought so many friends into my life! I now have a group of four other women who are amazing and I’d consider close friends, plus countless other people who aren’t as close but who I’d still consider friends. All of these people were brought into my life because of horses, and for someone who grew up only having a couple of friends at a time, I now know what it’s like to have a group of people to turn to when I need advice or just someone to talk to.

I could literally go on about this forever but I’m going to cut it off there because I know that most people won’t read a blog post that’s too long! What things have horses taught you or brought into your life? Let me know in the comments!

Posted on Leave a comment

Birthstone Horses T-shirts Back in Stock on Amazon!

My merch on Amazon was down for a while because of the pandemic going on, which is why I haven’t spoken about it for a few months. The shirtmaker had reduced staff so a lot of the available designs were down for a few months until production could get back to normal. I’ve been doing periodic looks to see when my designs were back up to the public, and this morning they had reappeared! 

At the moment, I only have 10 design slots available on Amazon, which is why all of the Birthstone Horses designs aren’t available. If I make more sales on Amazon, I will unlock more design slots and be able to offer more shirts, so if you see a design that you know a friend will like, please share it with them! You can support an independent artist AND get Prime benefits.

I have the “February” shirt from Amazon and the quality is AMAZING. The print is big, crisp, and colorful and has held up to multiple trips through the wash. The shirt itself is a soft but thick high-quality fabric that feels amazing and isn’t transparent at all. I have a very thorough review of these shirts here on the blog if you’re interested in reading more about them.

Purchase a shirt on Amazon now!

Posted on Leave a comment

What is the Quagga? History and Info of the Quagga

The Quagga was long thought to be a distinct species, but early genetic studies have supported to being a subspecies of the plains zebra. A more recent study suggested that it was merely the southernmost ecotype of the species. The name was derived from the animal’s call, which sounded like “kwa-ha-ha.” 

It is believed that the Quagga was around 8 feet long and 4-4.5 feet tall at the shoulder. Unlike other zebras, it had a limited pattern of brown and white stripes that were primarily on the front of its body, with a rear that was brown and without stripes. Little is known about the Quagga’s behavior. They were said to be wild and lively, yet more docile than the Burchell’s zebra. Before they were hunted to extinction, they were primarily found in great numbers in the Karoo of Cap Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State in South Africa. 

When the Dutch began to settle in South Africa, the Quagga was hunted heavily because it competed with domesticated animals for forage. The Quagga was easy to find and kill, and was also hunted for meat and for their skins, which were traded or used locally. By the 1850’s the Quagga had disappeared from most of its natural range. The last known wild Quagga died in 1878. Prior to this, some animals were captured and shipped to Europe to be displayed in zoos. Breeding programs were set in place to save the Quagga from extinction, but they were unsuccessful. Only one Quagga was ever photographed alive, and only 23 skins are preserved today. The last captive Quagga died in Amsterdam on August 12, 1883. 

The Quagga was the first extinct animal to have its DNA analysed, and the Quagga Project is trying to recreate the hair coat pattern and related characteristics by selectively breeding Burchell’s zebras. To differentiate between the Quagga and the zebras of this project (who are not Quagga, but lookalikes instead), the Quagga Project refers to their bred animals as “Rau Quaggas”. The introduction of these lookalike Quaggas back to the Western Cape area could be part of a beneficial restoration project to combat non-native trees and also maintain indigenous vegetation by grazing.

Do you like the Quagga? Click the image to purchase a print!

 

I feel a great love for the Quagga, since one of the goals of my Horses of the World illustrations is to spread awareness and encourage conservation of endangered breeds. The Quagga is the only extinct breed currently in the series, and I absolutely love telling people about it at in-person shows when someone inquires about them. I had a great time drawing and coloring this mare and her foal while imagining the Quagga brought back from extinction and once again roaming their native lands. Maybe one day the technology will exist to extract DNA from the preserved skins and clone the Quagga so that the actual distinct subspecies can be brought back, instead of just a zebra of similar coloring! 

Did you know about the Quagga before? If you know someone who would like to learn about this zebra subspecies, use the buttons below to share it with them!

Posted on Leave a comment

What is the Andalusian Horse? History and Facts about the Andalusian Breed

The Andalusian horse derives its name from its place of origin, the Spanish region of Andalusia. Cave paintings show that horses have been on the Iberian Penninsula as far back as 30,000 BCE. The Iberian breeds have been influenced throughout history by different cultures and peoples who occupied Spain, including the Celts, Carthaginians, and the Romans. Some of the earliest written pedigrees were kept by Carthusian monks because they could read and write, and were therefore able to keep careful records, the monks were given the responsibility of horse breeding by members of the Spanish nobility beginning in the 13th century. 

The Carthusians bred powerful, weight-bearing horses for the crown of Castile using the finest Spanish Jennets as foundation stock. By the 15th century the Andalusian was considered a distinct breed and was being used to influence the development of other horse breeds. The Andalusian horse by this time was also well-known for use as cavalry horses. In 1667 William Cavendish, the Duke of Newcastle, called the Spanish horse of the Andalusia area the “princes of the horse world” and reported that they were “unnervingly intelligent.” The Iberian horse became the royal horse of Europe and was used in many royal courts and riding academies. During the 16th century, inflation and increased demand for cavalry and harness horses drove the prices extremely high, and it was often impossible to find an Andalusian horse to purchase at any price. 

During the 19th century, the Andalusian breed was threatened because of horses being stolen or requisitioned in wartime. One herd of Andalusians was hidden from invaders and was used to renew the breed. Then, in 1832, an epidemic seriously affected Spain’s horse population and one herd survived in a stud monastery in Cartuja. European breeders in the 19th and early 20th centuries changed from an emphasis on Andalusian horses to breeding Thoroughbreds and warmbloods, which further depleted the stock of Andalusians. Despite this, Andalusian numbers slowly recovered. Andalusians only began being exported from Spain in 1962, and there are currently around 8,500 animals in the United States.

The Andalusian breed has been known for their athleticism for centuries. These horses have been used for riding and driving since the beginning of their history, and they were among the first breeds used in Classical Dressage. They are also used today for show jumping, western pleasure, and many other activities in horse shows. Andalusian horses are also used in movies, including Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  

Do you love the Andalusian breed? Click the image to purchase an art print!

The Andalusian horse is truly a beautiful breed and I loved adding them to my series of illustrations. This was also one of the first breeds that I did with access to some new collections of map pages, which is why the colors in the background are a bit sharper and there’s more text than in previous entries in the series. I loved coloring all that long, black mane and shading the little braid in the front. I feel like this is one of my most elegant illustrations in this series!

Do you love the Andalusian horse? Share this post with your friends using the buttons below!

Posted on Leave a comment

What is a Vlaamperd horse? History and Info about the Vlaamperd Breed

Lord Charles Somerset imported several Arabian and Thoroughbred stallions to South Africa in 1820. These stallions were bred to local mares, resulting in a riding horse called the Hantam horse or Cape horse. In the early 1900’s, Friesian stallions were imported to South Africa and crossed with the Hantam mares. A few east Friesian, Hackney, Oldenburg, and Cleveland Bay stallions were also used to introduce new blood to the line as well. In the process, the Hantam breed became extinct and was replaced with a more powerful breed that was capable of riding as well as harness work. 

While the Vlaamperd breed was in development, the Dutch banned the export of Friesians to try and control breeding of the horses. South Africans began importing Friesians from Antwerp in Belgium to evade the law. They started referring to the Friesians as “Vlaamse perde” or “Flemish horses”, and this is where the name “Vlaamperd” came from. 

The Vlaamperd averages between 14.2 and 15.2 hands, with an elegant and long-legged build. It is known for good motion, an easy disposition, and excellent driving ability. This makes the Vlaamperd a popular harness breed, driven singly or in teams of up to eight horses. They are also popular for riding, especially in dressage. The Friesian breeding gave the Vlaamperd a very dark color. All of the Vlaamperd stallions are black, though mares can be dark bay. Lighter colors are strictly prohibited and may not be used for breeding, as it is evidence of undesired crossbreeding.

Click the image above to purchase Vlaamperd horse print!

 

I LOVE Friesian horses (of course I do, because I love hairy horses) but at the time of this illustration, I didn’t have the right map to do a Friesian. So instead, I found a look-alike breed from South Africa that most people have never heard of! 

Have you ever heard of the Vlaamperd breed? Share this blog post with other horse lovers using the buttons below!