New paintings from Metro

finished abstract painting

This first one is a collaboration we titled “Two on the Eleven”. We used Metro as the model for this one. It started out with Metro painting his abstract strokes, using limited colors of red, black and white. I then added my touches, trying to blend in with the strokes that Metro had already laid down. Using the same red, black and white color scheme, I painted an image of Metro and his jockey onto Metro’s work. Hopefully we did a nice job of blending our two styles together. 16×20″ acrylic, on 1.5″ deep gallery wrapped canvas. $400 at Gallery 30. Contact info@gallery30.com.

Blue Vase Blues

“Blue Vase Blues”. This one was a blast to paint, because I worked with Metro to create this image together. Trading off brush strokes, Metro supplied the abstract strokes, and I carved a vase and flowers out of it. Another unique thing about this painting, is that we captured the whole thing on video, from start to finish. 18×24″ acrylic on 1.5″ deep gallery wrapped canvas. $500. Contact Gallery 30 at info@gallery30.com to have this painting shipped to your home.

Life Beneath the Ice

“Life Beneath the Ice” $500. 20×20″ acrylic on 1.5″ deep canvas. This is not a new painting, but has not been offered fro sale for the last year and a half. This is actually one of my favorite paintings by Metro. I liked it so much that I kept it for myself, but am now willing to part with it. Usually we will work on different colors on different days, so they have a chance to to dry, and Metro doesn’t smear them together. But sometimes a little smearing can be a good thing, as Metro demonstrates by blending the oranges and blues to make some beautiful gray tones. Available at Gallery 30. Contact info@gallery30.com and they will be happy to ship it to you.

To see all of Metro’s available paintings, please visit www.PaintedbyMetro.com

How to choose a paintbrush for your horse

Photo of Metro holding paintbrush
How Metro holds his brush.
Photo by Wendy Wooley.

Horses are prey animals. In the wild, they are dinner for big cats. A horse’s biggest fear is that lions and tigers are going to grab them by the legs, or jump on their backs and start chewing away on them. So what do we do? We jump on their backs and make them carry us around, and just to make it more uncomfortable for them, throw a saddle on them made from the hides of other dead animals. No wonder they try to buck us off. To give them a fighting chance in the wild, Mother Nature has given them eyes on the side of their heads. This gives them the ability to watch for predators approaching with a nearly 360 degree view. But it also gives them 2 blind spots where they can’t see. One is directly behind him. That’s why you are always told to not walk behind a horse. You might get kicked. Not because the horse has a mean streak, he doesn’t know what is behind him. He is just kicking out in defense at the unknown. For all he knows, you may be a mountain lion trying to sneak up on him.

Another blind spot is directly in front of his face. He can see in front of him very well, just not right in front of him. I am not sure how far that bling spot projects out, but I know it is there. They can actually see better in front of them, because they can see out of both eyes at the same time, giving them better depth perception. They just can’t see right in front of their nose.

Photo of cheap bristle brushes
Metro’s favorite cheap bristle brush. Some of the bristles are cut to give Metro’s brushstroke variety.

So when Metro paints, holding the brush in his mouth, I am not sure he can even see what he is painting. He may be able to see the canvas, though he has never shared this with me. But he knows where to stand, and how far to reach out so the brush makes contact with the canvas. He has a routine, and I try not to mess with that.  So I try to keep the brushes the same length, as not to throw off that routine. There were times when I would give him a longer brush than he was used to, and it would be a struggle for him to make a good brush stroke. So we try to keep them the same size, usually 7-8 inches. That is the length he likes, and Metro gets what Metro wants.

Artist paint brushes
Artist paint brushes modified for Metro

The cheap bristle brushes you get from Home Depot are his brush of choice, but lately I have been introducing him to smaller artist brushes that us human artists use. These usually run long, sometimes with 1 to 2 foot handles, but I will saw those off to keep them within Metro’s comfort zone.

photo of broken paint brushes
Bucket of broken paintbrushes

Does he break brushes? Oh Yeah! Sometimes we only get one or two strokes out of a brush before he breaks it. The big boy doesn’t know his own strength. I just toss the broken brush into a five gallon bucket we keep below his easel, grab another and press on.

I duct tape all the handle up for Metro. Not that he needs the tape for grip, I just don’t want the handle to splinter in his mouth when he breaks one.

Now that I know Metro will paint with anything, as long as it is the correct length, I will be spending my time looking for new brushes that will add variety and texture to Metro’s paintings.

Ses Metro’s paintings at www.PaintedbyMetro.com

Photo of Finished painting
One of Metro paintings using a combination of large and small brushes.

Abstract Painting with a horse

When I am collaborating on an abstract painting with Metro, there are 3 different approaches. I can do my painting at home, and bring it to the barn to have Metro finish it off. This doesn’t always work well because Metro doesn’t paint inside the lines and will probably paint over all of my work. We can do a painting together at the barn from start to finish. This is enjoyable, working side by side with Metro. But Metro isn’t the best about sharing the workload, and will usually be pushing me out of the way with his big head as he tries to get the paintbrush out of my hands. He likes to do it all himself. It is all about Metro when he is painting. The third way, and the way we went with this painting, is to let Metro do a whole abstract painting, then I will bring it home and add my touches over the top of his.

I knew I wanted to do a racehorse painting and wanted to stay with the same colors that Metro had already laid down, red,white and black. I thought of doing one of Seabiscuit, because his colors would work perfectly, but had already done one not to long ago. So I figured I would do one of Metro. There was no red in his jockey silks, his colors were white and orange, but since it was predominantly white, I could make the orange work.

My first step was to sketch out the overall figure in black paint stick. I should be sketching in something a little less permanent like charcoal, but I believe in commitment.

.sketch on abstract painting

Then I began painting in the white, red/orange, and black. For the black, I used fluid acrylic, drawing straight from the bottle onto the canvas. This gave the black paint a fluid appearance that I was able to move around with my fingers.

Step two of abstract painting

After it dried, I had a look at it. I was pleased, but thought the black was a little too bold, and made Metro’s neck look a little “thick”. So working with the other colors, a softened the black and gave the neck a little more streamlined appearance. I also added some black above the jockey, to make him stand out a little more.

finished abstract painting

Overall, I am pretty happy with the finished painting which we title “Two on the Eleven“. The original will eventually go to Gallery 30, but prints are available now at Fine Art America.

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Thank for reading.

Does a painting horse really like to paint?

Does Metro like to paint?

Metro Painting
Photo by Wendy Wooley

I have never gotten into the mind of my painting horse, and what he is thinking when he creates his art and abstract paintings. Nor has he ever told me. He is not much of a conversationalist. All I know is his actions tell me he likes it. He likes it a lot. Metro will choose to painting above all else. There is never a rope on him when he paints, he is free to walk away whenever he likes. I can set his easel up in the pasture, and he will stop grazing on grass and walk over to the easel and wait for me to hand him a brush.

I don’t know what pleasure he gets from it. Sure, I have a pocket full of horse treats, but how does that compare to acres of lush spring grass?

You can make a horse do a lot of things that he doesn’t want to. You can put a bridle on his head, a bit in his mouth, and make him turn left or right. You can crack a whip behind him, and make him run. But you can’t make a horse paint. He has to want to paint.

For Metro, I think it is the oral sensation he gets from stroking a brush across a canvas. He always has his mouth on something, whether it’s licking the bars of his stall or pulling on my jacket with his teeth. I think the pleasure he gets is from the feeling in his mouth.

All I know is he has never refused to paint, other than when he made his personal appearance at Penn National. He had no interest in painting there. But I can’t fault him for that. He was not in the comforts of his own studio. He was back at the track with a full view of horses galloping at full speed right in front of him. His mind was elsewhere, perhaps re-living the glory days of his youth.

Metro doing a little Plein Air Painting
Metro doing a little Plein Air Painting

But when he is home, in his own comfort zone, he wants to paint. When he sees me setting up his paints and canvases in his studio, he begins excitedly bobbing his head up and down, ready to be let out of his stall to get that brush in his mouth.

He has painted outside with no fence or rope to hold him back, he has painted in a 180’ arena. He will paint whenever I ask him, for as long as I ask him. I don’t know what his time limit is, because I always punch the clock long before he is ready to give up.

So does a painting horse like to paint? Does he like to create his abstract paintings?

My answer is “yes”.

Click here to see Wendy Wooley’s video of Metro painting outside for his photoshoot.

Bob Ross meets Painting Horse

I remember channel surfing years ago, landing on PBS, and become hypnotized by the soothing voice of Bob Ross. He would talk in the most calming of voice, while he painted “Happy Little Trees” on his show called “The Joy of Painting”.

Not that I was a fan of his painting, or his style, I found that I just couldn’t turn the channel. He had me hooked and I was captivated. I don’t know what it was about him, but I found myself watching whenever his image crossed my TV screen. I may have watched the same episode over and over, because all his paintings looked the same to me, and I didn’t know if I was watching a new episode, or something 10 years old.Bob-Ross-2

But I just found comfort in his voice and watching him apply paint to canvas.

Recently I thought what it would be like if Metro had his own painting show. I know no one is interested in giving Metro is own show, and if Metro could talk, I am sure his voice wouldn’t be as soothing as Bob’s. Metro’s dialog would be filled with 4-letter words and stories about mares he knows.

But maybe we could film a painting from start to finish, and I can talk about the thought process that goes into creating a painting with Metro. I thought one of our collaborative paintings would be nice, and a vase of flowers would be something we could do in one sitting. Anything more complicated than that would take several days, and drying times between sessions.Blue Vase Blues

We would upload it to YouTube and call it “Painting with Metro”.

It wasn’t the best video, we only had one camera, even though a brought two, I forgot to turn one on. The lighting wasn’t the greatest, and it ran a little long.

If there is any interest in seeing more, I would probably put a little more thought into production, and edit it down to 5 minutes.

But here is our first attempt. You can view it here.

To see all of Metro’s available paintings please visit www.paintedbymetro.com.

Buddy Sour

Since we moved Pork Chop and Metro to a new barn back in December, they have become a little too attached to each other for our liking. There is nothing wrong with them being best buddies, they have been together for the last 5 ½ years, but their dependency was getting to the point that one of them was going to hurt themselves.

Buddy Sour Horses
Best buddies, Metro and Pork Chop

 It’s called “Buddy Sour”. When one horse is removed for a short time, and the other goes through extreme separation anxiety. Just to give you an example: when Wendy takes Pork Chop out of his stall to ride him in the arena, Metro will begin rearing, bucking and spinning circles in his stall. Pork Chop fares no better during his riding session, all the time keeping one eye on the door of the arena, and continuously calling to Metro, with his brain concentrated on when is Metro going to come join him. It is dangerous for the horses when they act this way. They have been separated before, they have been turned out in pastures with other horses, and had no problems. But since we moved to the new barn, they didn’t have any friends, they just had each other. They were two kids in a new school who only had each other to rely on. So we have been at the new barn for 4 months now, it was best to start introducing them to new horses, and give them some time apart. Metro being what he is with his bad knees, would not function as well as Pork Chop being introduced to a large group of horses. It is survival of the fittest in a herd, and Metro with his health issues, usually gets picked on in a big group. Pork Chop can hold his own, and can be introduced to the herd right away. Metro requires a little bit of planning. Kate our barn owner figured that “Vegas” would be a good companion for Metro. Vegas didn’t function well in the herd either. He was picked on and beaten up to the point that they had to separate him, and turn him out alone in his own pasture for the last six months, for his own safety. Vegas and Metro immediately hit it off immediately, running and playing, and dining from the same hay pile. It was a match made in heaven. Eventually, more horses will be introduced to this new little group, as they build up each other’s confidence.

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Metro and his new buddy, Vegas.

Metro and Pork Chop still see each other on a daily basis, as their stalls are right next to one another, and will probably be reunited again to share a pasture in the future, but for now it is best that they make new friends and enjoy a little time away. Be sure to vista Metro’s website, www.PaintedbyMetro.com.

History of Metro: The first vet visit

Note: Years ago I had a blog detailing my experiences, as a horse newbie, learning how to be a horse owner. I knew nothing about horses, and Metro was absolutely the wrong horse to be learning on.This was long before Metro learned how to paint. So I am going to periodically incorporate some of those old posts into this new blog. This was originally published in 2010.

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We have always had dogs or cats, more recently cats, and have made several trips to veterinarian. You make an appointment, show up at the appointed time and sit in the waiting room for a half hour waiting for them to call your pets name.
Well we have a cat named Puss-Puss, who we always sign in under her alias, Sadie, because I am not going to stand up in front of everyone in the waiting room, when the teenage girl in the smock comes through the door and yells PUSS-PUSS!
At the small animal clinic the only real concern you have is keeping your cat under control, so a fight doesn’t break out in the waiting room with the other cats.

With a horse, you can’t throw your horse in the back seat of your car, drive to the vet and sit in the waiting room with other owners and their horses.
An equine vet has to come out to see you. They usually charge you $50-$60 just to drive out, and if you can get through a vet visit for less then $200, consider yourself lucky.
We had a vet come out to do an examination on Metro within the first couple of days. We knew he had issues, and we wanted to find out what they were, so we could address them, and get Metro feeling better.
That was big mistake #2. If you are thinking about getting a horse, always get the vet exam BEFORE you bring him home.
Dr. Wiles showed up about an hour late, which we would find out is about the norm for an equine vet, and I proudly led out my shiny new horse for inspection.
Dr. Wiles proceeded to do his walk around on my pride and joy, pointing out every flaw like I was trying to sell him a my used Pinto.

He pointed out 2 scars on the back of each leg where he had had previous surgeries on his knees.
He squeezed each knee and informed me that he had bone chips. I had already known that he had knees like Joe Namath.

Metro also coughed a lot when he when he eats. We would find out later that he had surgery at sometime during his racing career to open up his airway and get more air to his lungs, but it was a little overdone so his airway is always open causing food to get into his lungs.
This also resulted in him making these grunting sounds when he has to work at anything harder then a walk. He is not struggling, that is just the way he breathes. He grunts.

The Doc told me Metro was way under weight, which was probably the result of having an ulcer, he didn’t have a scope with him to tell me if Metro had an ulcer for sure, but he would be more then happy to sell me the treatment, GastroGard, at $50 a tube. Apparently it is made with liquid gold. I would need to give him one tube a day for 30 days. With my 6th grade education, I did the ‘ciphering in my head, that’s $1500!!!

He removed the three remaining shoes Metro had, one of which was just hanging on by a nail, and took Metro into the arena to run him around in circles on a 22 foot line.
Watching Metro trot in a circle, even the untrained eye of a ‘newbie’ like myself could tell something was not right. He was lame.
Before I owned a horse, ‘lame’ was when the DJ played an Air Supply song on my classic rock station.

When you own a horse, ‘lame’ has a different meaning… he had a limp.
Then the vet did something that I had only heard about in urban legend. I had heard stories of this rural ritual called “Cow Tipping”, but growing up in the “burbs”, I had never witnessed it for myself.
He got a running start, slammed into my horse, and tried to knock him over. At first Metro had a look of shock on his face, that he was trying to be tipped like a cow. But by the third time, Metro just looked a the vet and just gave him a “Dude…. what IS your problem?” look.

After the exam Doc Wiles gave me the run down on everything wrong with my horse.
Bad knees…..Check
Bad Airway….Check
Underweight….Check
Probable ulcer….Check
Possible neurological problems(balance)….Check
Then he said….. THE WRONG THING.

“These ‘cheap’ claiming horses don’t get the best of care”

EXCUSE ME?

Cheap claiming horse? This is METRO METEOR… stakes horse… winner of $300,000…once consider one of the best turf sprinters on the East Coast…son of City Zip…Nephew of Ghostzapper, the horse of the year!!!! I can watch the Kentucky Derby on TV and point out no less then 5 entered jockeys that have had this beautiful horse underneath them…. and YOU just called him a cheap claiming horse?

On the inside…..

On the outside…..I said nothing.

At that time, the Doc presented me with 5 tubes of liquid gold, GastroGard, to start treatment on his unknown ulcer, a can of Bute, to cure what ails Metro, and my first Equine vet bill of $600.
He then got into his truck, which I had just made the next payment on, and headed off down the the long gravel drive.
Good riddance Doc, you will never touch my horse again, because Metro and I don’t like you.

It was a big night. Metro was getting turned out in the big pasture with the other horses. For the first couple of days he was by himself in a small paddock sized pasture until he got acclimated to his new surroundings. I led him out to the large pasture and he walked like he was on hot coals. This has probably been the first time in years he had not had shoes on his feet.
I got him inside the large pasture, took of his halter, and turned him loose. He pranced around with his tail high in the air, letting out long snorts of air because he was unsure of where he was.

Then he stopped and looked around at all the room he had to run.

That’s when the fuse burned to the end, and the rocket took off.

Metro sprinted the 300 or so yards to the the other end of the pasture, made a wide sweeping turn and sprinted back to come to a sliding stop right in front of me. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Cheap claiming horse…my ass.

A horse with a hobby