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Posts tagged horses

Some of the parts

I’ve been photographing horses for well over a year now, and I’m feeling it’s time to put together a show, or at least a portfolio. I would be happy just continuing to make photographs indefinitely, but I’d be happier grappling with the work in another way as well, reviewing it and thinking about it and looking for themes or ideas. A few thoughts have been mentioned in previous posts, but none has risen to the level of forming the backbone of a potential statement. Perhaps the most striking thing to emerge from my photographs is a lack of interest in anything resembling a classic, noble, iconic western horse. In fact, I notice that none of the images selected for this post even depicts an entire animal (though I have some that do).

One thing I realized in the course of the recent Morandi discussions is that the edges of the bodies are often blurred, or more generally obscured, either through intervening snow or grass…

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Styles for seasons (updated)

About five months ago I described my indecision regarding goals or approaches in my horse project. I can now happily report that I’m still unresolved. It appears that simply making lots of photographs doesn’t necessarily result in refinement. I’ve decided to consider this a good thing, since that’s how it is, anyway. Perhaps one lesson can be drawn: to every style there is a season. Lately in Montana the season has been winter, and a look noted earlier has remained prominent, namely one featuring the texture of snow, especially falling snow, sometimes combined with motion-related texture.


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Snow lines and serendipity

I have been interested for some time in exploring possibilities for interesting texture in my photographs. One idea was to print on hand-tinted paper; that’s still under investigation — rather back burner at the moment. Another is encaustic medium, i.e. wax or something similar applied over a photographic print. I’ve made one small print by that method, and am definitely still experimenting. But photographing horses recently, I discovered a new strategy:

falling snow + moving horses = hatched textures.


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Horses of a different artist


It should be no surprise that in Montana, even in Bozeman, there’s no shortage of artists painting, drawing, sculpting and photographing horses. Which is a delight for me, engaged as I am in such a project myself (posts here and here). That gives me a keen interest in how others have responded to the subject, and enhances my appreciation of their work.

So it’s shocking to me that, before yesterday, I hadn’t thought for a long time about Deborah Butterfield. Two years ago I first saw her horse sculptures at the Yellowstone Art Museum; they had the force of revelation. I remember walking into the room and having to sit down (on a fortunately placed bench) to gaze at the horse there, one of her newer ones in patina’d bronze cast from driftwood. Without any knowledge of Butterfield, her technique, or the subject, my overwhelming impression was that this was a person who understood horses. What they are inside, and how they are put together, in both a physical and a metaphorical way.
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Which horses?

I’ve been continuing with my new project on horses, which has predictably wandered into a thicket of possibilities. I’m confident it will emerge at some point — though I daren’t say when — and when it does, it will necessarily be in some direction or other. Hopefully trailing a series with some coherence.


But at the moment, I’m taking many different kinds of pictures. The very few I’ve put on my web site are a motley and incomplete assortment, determined more by (lack of) time available than anything else. The experience has me thinking about the nature of projects.

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New project

Now for something completely different from my usual inanimate landscapes. Probably almost every photographer in Montana has done horses at some point. They were actually a major subject of my first photos when I started up with digital photography, and starred in my first self-assigned project (not on the web site; I guess it’s still in progress). But they were eventually neglected as I mostly pursued my long-term interest in landscape and abstraction. Then I saw some postcards of the Horse Nudes portfolio of Kathe Lesage and realized what I’d been missing. Last weekend I had a chance to do something about it.

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