Once a successful Turf Sprinter at Belmont and Saratoga, knee injuries ended Metro's career. Forced to find a second career that was easier on the knees, Metro's owner, Ron Krajewski, taught him to paint.
Now Metro is a successful artist raising money and awareness for other retired racehorses needing homes.
Fortunately, Metro is the best sales person around. Everybody wants to meet him, touch him, get their photo taken with him. But he doesn’t make public appearances. Metro’s is not a performing horse, we don’t take him on the road to horse expos, or hire him out to Birthday Parties or Bat Mitzvahs. He is a painter, he paints a couple hours a weeks, and the rest of his time is devoted to a life of leisure.
He has made one personal appearance a few years ago at Penn National Racetrack, but since then, he has been living the life of seclusion.
Well it’s time for Metro to get out and meet his fans again. Gallery 30 in Gettysburg will be hosting a book launch party for Metro and his new book. Metro has been busy signing books in preparation for this, 500 of them.
The book party is scheduled for April 16th from 1-4:30PM at Gallery 30. Hope to see you there.
I have always been a watercolor painter, other then some small diversions into acrylics. Most of my acrylic painting has been with Metro. But I have always wanted to try oil painting. Something about the look of an oil painting has always appealed to me.
So I signed up for an online course with Dreama Tolle Perry and dove in. I found out that I really like working with oils. I think the slow drying times has always been what was keeping me away. Know that a finished oil painting would still take months before it is completely dry. I am all about instant gratification. Having that finished painting up on the wall or on Ebay within a day has been my life for the last 10 years. With oils, you just have to wait a little longer.
My first oil painting.
And my second one.
Though my paintings with Metro will stay in acrylics, oils are too toxic for a painting horse, I think I might pick up some techniques that will carry over into my paintings with Metro.
We had just completed writing the book, Painting with Metro, with Susy Flory and suddenly without anything to do, Susy suggested that I do a coloring book about Metro. I thought this was a great idea, but Metro would have to be involved in the creation of it. When you have a horse that can paint and draw, you might as well let him get involved.
I didn’t want it to be abstract, I wanted it to represent Metro and his life. So I started drawing pictures of Metro on canvas, and then handed Metro the paint pen. We don’t do a a lot of work with paint pens, but Metro enjoys holding one in his mouth and scribbling on a canvas. Soon we were doing pictures of all of Metro’s barn buddies. Pork Chop, Lamont the donkey and Stubby the blind and deaf barn cat are all represented.
Now this isn’t one of those boring color in the spaces type of coloring books, you actually have to put some thought into creating artwork with Metro. But I do it every day, making sense out of Metro’s brush strokes, now you can too. There is art on those pages, you just need to bring it to life.
Coloring with Metro is available now on Amazon.com.
This is totally different departure from Metro’s usual meandering style of painting. It has the look of a collaborative painting, but I made none of the brushstrokes, Metro made them all. I just didn’t let him run amuck with the paintbrush in his mouth.
I had a composition in mind, and wanted to see if I could guide Metro through my idea. I can usually control where Metro starts painting on the canvas, by where I hand him the brush. Metro comes to the brush, the brush doesn’t go to him. So if I want him to start painting in the upper right corner of canvas, all I have to do is hold the brush in that area. Metro will come and take the brush in his mouth, and start painting in the upper right corner. What he does once he starts is completely up to Metro.
But I have found that I can always take the brush out of his mouth when it looks like he is going to start “coloring outside of the lines”. So as long as he stays in the area I want him to apply paint, I will let him paint, and take the brush when he looks like he is going to venture out of it. That’s the idea anyway. It doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes when I see a small touch of red in my head, Metro sees a big red racing stripe across the canvas in his head.
I know that Metro is never going to be able to paint intricate little figures, but find I can guide him into painting large basic shapes.
Besides working on the larger gallery pieces, Metro also has some new smaller 11×14″ paintings. To view all of Metro’s new paintings, please visit his website. www.PaintedbyMetro.com.
This is the first collaborative painting I have done with Metro where we actually split the painting in half. Metro did the top half and I did the bottom half.
To start of with, I toned the canvas red and applied black liquid acrylic about halfway up. Tilting the canvas, I allowed the black paint run down in streams to form the limbs and tree trunks. Doing it this way gives you a more organic random look to the trunks and limbs.
After it was dry, it was time to take it to the barn and let Metro have his way with it. Metro’s half took a couple of days to complete, letting him work with bigger brushes the first day, to cover the area, and smaller brushes the second to add some interest to the trees.
Once Metro was done, I cut around the the tree trunks with light reds and oranges to make them pop out.
Two new paintings to talk about this week. One is a portrait of California Chrome, but we will start off with a little abstract flower painting Metro and I did.
It didn’t start out as a flower painting. It started out as an abstract using only Metro’s strokes. But I have always wanted to collaborate with Metro on something a little more abstract. I have collaborated with Metro before, but they have always turned out to be paintings of horses, trees, even bears. But we had never collaborated on an abstract before. Metro already has a successful career as an abstract painter, what does he need me for? But Metro isn’t much for composition and structure, he is all about laying down the brush strokes.
Believe it or not, abstract paintings have structure and composition too, using the same rules that apply to landscapes and photography. For this painting I chose a “Golden Section” composition, or “Rule of Thirds”. If you were to draw a tic tac toe pattern on the canvas your center of interest would go where two of these lines crossed each other. You can even use more than one focal point, but one should be more dominant than the others.
So using yellows mixed with white, I began carving a composition out of the blue and green strokes that Metro had already laid down on the canvas. By the time i was finished, it reminded me of freshly cut flowers in a vase. So we titled this one “Freshly Cut”.
For the second painting of California Chrome, I had every intention of working with Metro on it, but got carried away and ended up painting the whole thing without Metro’s help. I signed it and looked at it for a couple of weeks, and discovered I wasn’t happy with it. It was missing something, and that was Metro’s input. I thought my version looked a little stiff with too many hard edges. It needed Metro’s touch to soften it up and take away some of the hardness. If you want to loosen up your paintings, paint with a horse. He is about as loose as you can get. My big concern was Metro painting over my image of Chrome. Metro doesn’t care much for staying inside the lines. I just wanted him to paint on the background and foreground and leave the image intact, so I had to keep watch and take the brush away if he was starting to get carried away.
In the end Metro’s soft wispy brushstrokes add a delicate touch to the painting that I couldn’t have added on my own. My version is on the left, and on the right is a much better version after Metro added his touches.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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 email@example.com to have this painting shipped to your home.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be happy to ship it to you.