Wednesday, 18 September 2013

An arty kind of day

Just got back from walking my dogs across the paddocks. It was one of those evenings where I could have just stood and appreciated the quiet stillness. A distinct chill is in the air though! Enough to keep me moving anyway.
To my left, a full moon. So bright and clear today I wished I had the right filters on my Canon to do evening/night photography. The detail was incredible! It was so bright that I had a moonlight shadow. To the right, the sun setting over Newmarket. Not a particularly fantastic one but kind of pretty all the same. I love the quiet of the dogs and I after a typically busy day, just 20 mins is enough to take a proper deep breath! This evenings quiet though is interrupted by the muntjack deer barking away (probably on high alert because of the dog pack!)
It occured to me also, that once the weather turns, there is nothing more inviting after a walk than the yellow glow of warmth coming from the bungalow! Brr.
Anyway Im waffling. Am home now, & the dogs are all snoring in a pile. Result.

(I only had my rubbish phone camera, but just to set the scene! lol) 

It has been a busy day in the studio today. I have now finished my latest project, a commissioned painting for a lovely lady who wanted something with a close up of a horses expression. 
The finished piece is called 'Enchantment' and we are both really pleased with the result. 
Hope you all like it. Sorry for the water mark but you can't be too careful! It can be seen on my facebook art page too though. 

Next up, a couple more commissions and a foal painting. :) Watch this space.

Laters all!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Painting and ponies

Monday. Much as I love weekends, I am always glad to get back to work on Mondays!

Moving the ponies about yet again was my priority today though, (Paddock trashers!)  but first decided on a hack with  my two lovely friends and their coloured cobs. Charlie (my NF pony) shared a yard with these two until recently, and he misses them. The ears here tell the tale I think, he has just spotted them hacking to meet us! There was a lovely whinny of greeting too. Sweet. I haven't had the time (or, truth be told, the motivation!) to hack as much as I used to recently so I really enjoyed it.

Back at the yard, I had to put the two larger ponies on to lush Autumn grazing. I am keeping everything crossed that Charlie doesn't colic again, he does go a bit mad for the first few hours. Tried to get them to lift their heads and say *cheese*, but this is the reaction I got. I do believe in pony language this means "There is grass, Kiss my A***."

In the meantime, poor lil Jack has to wear the grazing muzzle. This is actually a horrendous device designed to torture greedy little ponies. Or so Jack tried to tell me, rather vocally! He was unimpressed, but unfortunately the pain of Laminitis is far worse than the inconvenience of this 'diet' device. A bit of tough love. :(

Finally managed to get an hour or two in the studio this afternoon. My painting is really coming along now, I am LOVING it. I wont share it properly until its done and approved by the client, but I cant help giving you all a sneaky peek at it ! 

Happy Monday! 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Friday the 13th...

Hmmm. I'm not superstitious but today has been fraught with mishaps!

Started well enough, all kids ready for school calmly and on time for a change, the window fitter had arrived and was cracking into the final touches. I keep the dogs shut away whilst the work is going on, My Gsd Kobi tends to be wary of strange men, plus the fact that Alfie the Jack Russell has a mind of his own and will trip off out of any open door....
(the offending pair...)

Anyway, somehow the kitchen door was left open and they all come bounding in. Kobi takes one look at the builder and sets off with the whole nine yards of barking, hackles up like a bog brush. Typical GSD behaviour, there a strange man in the lounge, & its my house, get out! I shushed him, and that was fine. The builder keeps Rotties so is well used to big dogs. The grumbling lessons a bit, and Kobi sets to investigating the strangers trousers. He gives one more half hearted woof, and the fella decides to look him in the face and go "woo-wooo-wooof". LOL. The words red, rag, and bull spring to mind. All hell breaks loose. The dog launches at him, full pelt barking, he swings a chair between them and I fall over my poor old springer in my attempt to grab Kobi.
Mayhem! Put the big two dogs back in the kitchen whilst apologising profusely... he didn't bite, it was all noise...In the meantime, the Jack Russell in his frenzy of excitement, tears up the builders cardboard box full of rubbish and tips it all over the floor.
*deep breath and count to ten*

After recovering myself and walking child #4 (Munchkin) to school - just made the door before it closed for registration (story of my life) I decide to check on the ponies. No drama there, other than little Jack pacing like a crazy horse to get out of his small enclosure into the paddock. Thankful that a check was all that was necessary I make my way to the studio in the drizzle.
The following 4 hours painting with a swift lunch break for a bagel with Mike (who is super busy with yearling prep - more about that another day ) was an absolute nightmare. Who would have thought that the most difficult thing about painting this...

Would be that pesky brass buckle at the noseband. The bell on the church tolls 3pm, and once more, I resemble a paint streaked, stressy, mess after the same buckle has been painted at least 12 times. Now, there is nothing worse for an artist (in my opinion), than leaving a painting mid-crisis, and unresolved. However parenting comes first and taking a headache from hell with me, I trundle down the road to collect Munchkin from class. 

Thanks to a lovely friend, Munchkin goes to the park for an hour. I *watch* escape to the Country with my eyes closed. As you do. 

#3 and #2 arrive home as does Mike, so I put the kettle on. The dogs are in the garden and all of a sudden, all Hell breaks loose for the second time. Someone strolls into the garden with a basket full of home grown veg. Not thinking twice about the dogs being loose. Strangers in the garden + Kobi on full alert = disaster. 
Despite my going out with some loud but ineffective attempt at controlling wild beast, he still manages to fly past visitor and give him a little nip on his bum. OMG. 
*Deep breath and count to 20*

After discussion on behaviour of naughty dog over coffee, catching up with Jess who was riding jack, and the yard duties, I finally prepare late tea for hungry family.

Half an hour into cooking I realise the cooker is on the wrong setting and the food is still raw......


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The trials of pony management!

After the last days rain I arrived at the yard this morning to find my paddocks well beyond their best and desperate in need of a few months rest!
I have managed all summer with the 3 ponies on 4 small foal paddocks, rotating around with the two larger ones in together, and little Welsh pony Jack following them once they have the grass eaten down. Jack has a tendency to get Laminitis, a painful condition which - in short - means that I have to watch his diet incredibly carefully, if he gets too fat or eats too much lush grass, he will go painfully lame.
The Stud where I keep them (next door to ours) is also rented by our Stud, and they are busy moving mares over there for the last few months of pregnancy before they are stabled here in December/Jan.
I have to move the ponies soon onto their winter grazing to make way for the thoroughbreds, but being September (and having had every paddock fertilized with Nitrogen in the spring)  the grass is still very lush! Poor Jack would never cope, and Charlie tends to be colicky on fresh grazing too. We already had one nasty episode this summer requiring urgent vet care and I really have to watch him.

(The ponies in Spring L-R Jack, Chuck, Charlie) 

So this mornings task was to find a way to graze them all with their various special needs whilst keeping them near each other (or they get upset)! After constructing a makeshift fence across a walkway, I have decided to work my way down towards the new paddocks using poor Chuck (a lovely black cob) as a lawnmower! So Chuck is now grazing a walkway, Charlie on a tiny square paddock, and Jack waiting on the foal paddock for a space! Hopefully if I let Chuck graze down the worst of it bit by bit, by the time I reach the winter paddock they can all be close to each other without anybody getting poorly. It is a bit like an enormous jigsaw puzzle!

Here's Jack doing the 'Wall of death' around the foal paddock, he was none to pleased that the boys had all the grass. I am quite pleased that he looks a good weight. I have been very strict with the poor boy!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Morning World! Well I think its safe to say that Summer is finally ending, a definite autumnal feel to today. Brr.

After dropping my 17 yr old Son off to the bus station on his first day at College - amazing how fast they grow up! - & I was debating on whether to shop, ride or paint this morning, the builder turned up to fit new windows. Enter the chaos of dust sheets and demolition. Ah well. We have only been here a few weeks and its been a bit chaotic having the bungalow updated so I am looking forward to this last bit being done.

Have booked in two photoshoots for Art commissions this week,  am looking forward to them! The first, a returning client for her 3rd portrait, which will most likely be a coloured pencil head study. Been a while since I completed one of those so that will be a nice change from acrylics. The other is a very exciting large painting of three horses and a labrador. I think that the composition may be a challenge but I really look forward to it!

In the meantime, - if I actually get to the studio today - I am painting a close up of a mares head, a lovely commission based on my own photographs which is a beautiful project. To say Im enjoying it is n understatement! Really struggled to put it down yesterday, in fact the church bell just outside was chiming 3pm (school pick up time!) Before I had even washed my brushes. Whoops. Good job youngest is used to it and the studio is very close to school!

Monday, 9 September 2013

About me.

So here it is. The Country Bumpkin Diary. 

A little about me. 

I am Steph Greaves, Equine Artist extraordinare (haha), Mother of 4, Wife of Michael. 
I would describe myself as... a country loving, art loving, food loving, short, chatterbox! I love amateur photography and am surgically attached to my Canon. The six of us live on a thoroughbred breeding stud in Newmarket, Suffok where Michael works. 
Its a beautiful environment for us to bring up our family and we share our home with 3 dogs, (a huge beautiful GSD, a mental Jack Russell, and an ageing Springer Spaniel). Not forgetting our black cat Annabel, the fierce mouse hunter, and total fleabag. We also own a lovely old veteran Bay New Forest pony Charlie and look after a black Irish cob and a Grey Welsh Pony. My Daughter Jess is the keen rider, I am the classic happy hacker! 

This blog is about my art, my animals, life on a stud, and possibly even the trials of being a Parent!