Teaching Metro to write

Well I don’t think he is actually going to learn how to write his name, but his handwriting is better than some doctor’s I’ve seen.

Since we are working on a book about Metro with Susy Flory, I thought it might be nice to teach Metro how to sign some books when his eventually comes out. Teaching him to hold a sharpie wasn’t going to be that hard, I just put some duct tape around it, like I do his paint brushes, and he took it in his mouth right away. My concern was the size of the book. Painting on a large canvas is no problem for Metro’s large brush strokes, but can he keep the pen on the paper of a book that measures less than a foot.

Metro signing book

Amazingly, Metro adjusted his stroke fro the size of the book, and managed to stay on the page for a few swirls of the pen. This horse never ceases to surprise me on how well he adapts his technique.

So when Metro’s book finally comes, don’t be surprised if you see Metro signing a few copies himself. To see video of Metro signing a book, click here.

Find out more about Metro by visiting his website, www.PaintedbyMetro.com.

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Collaborating with Metro

Ever since Metro started painting, I have always dreamed of collaborating on a painting. Sure, each painting is a collaboration, since he can’t do it without my help. But up until now Metro has provided all the brush strokes. I just choose the colors and hand him the brush.

But what if we traded off strokes? Metro would provide the abstract strokes, and I would provide the detail work. Working together to make a figurative painting with an abstract feel.

I have taken a handful of paintings home, and added my own touches to make his strokes look like something, but have never worked side by side with him on the same painting.

Of course our first subject matter would be racehorses, but we could paint anything together. Portraits, landscapes, whatever we felt like.

So our first painting was of Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome. I sketched out the rough figures in charcoal and brought the canvas to Metro’s studio.

What I soon found out was that Metro much more preferred being a solo artist than a collaborator.

Sure, he was great when he was making the strokes, but when it came my turn, Metro was all up in my business. I found it was hard to paint when Metro was trying to grab the brush out of my hand, push me aside with his big head, or pull on my clothes to try and move me out of his way so he can assume his position in front of the canvas.

Soon he relented and decided that it wasn’t all about him anymore.

Yes, we will still work on Metro’s solo projects, but every once in a while, Metro is going to have to share a little credit with me.

Am I riding on my famous horse’s coattails? Why yes I am.

To view available paintings for sale, please visit Metro’s website.

To prints on paper or canvas visit FineArtAmerica.com.

 

 

Are Metro’s paintings Art?

Whenever Metro gets featured in print, like he did recently in the New York Times, I always make the mistake of reading the comments. And regret it when I do.

Sure, we get the usual Mr. Ed and Wilbur comments, and the usual “I am exploiting Metro for profit” comments. I can let all those roll off my back.

But the comments that seem to get under my skin, are the “What an animal creates can’t be considered art”, “he has no vision or concept of what he is doing”.

This is true, he doesn’t…at least I don’t think so.

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Metro paints for the joy of painting. He enjoys stroking that brush on the canvas.

But he also isn’t doing it on his own. He has a little help. I am the one with the vision, the concept.

I choose the colors, and determine when the painting is finished. Even though I don’t have a lot of control over how Metro uses that brush once I give it to him, he still relies on my guidance if he is going to get that brush full of paint in his mouth.

Artists use all kinds of new ways to apply paint to canvas. They throw buckets of it into fans or jet engines, and let the wind apply the paint. They fill balloons full of paint, and hurl them through the air to explode on a canvas.

And they all get to call it art. But we aren’t allowed too, because Metro is a horse.

I am doing the same thing. Except, instead of a fan or jet engine between me and the canvas, there is a thousand pound horse.

Metro also applies paint the way most artists only wish they could. Thick, textured, random organic shapes.

Several books have been written about the subject. “How to loosen up your paintings”. Every artist strives to paint loosely, they may even call that loose style “painterly”.

I have found the secret to paint loosely…. Let a horse apply the strokes for you.

 

I have always avoided calling Metro’s paintings art, because I know how artists think. They don’t want a horse to be called an artist. Especially one that sells a lot more paintings than they do.

While they where the badge of “Starving Artist” proudly, Metro is perfectly happy getting 3 squares and a ½ bale daily.

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Well I am going to say it now, I consider Metro’s paintings art.

I guarantee, if I wasn’t signing Metro’s name to it and taking the credit all for myself, it would be called art. And it looks better than a lot of paintings I have seen. But I have tried to paint abstracts on my own, and they don’t look half as good as when Metro applies the strokes. So I am more than happy to let Metro take all the credit.

I consider it art, even if it is just for the teamwork that is involved when we create a painting. Metro likes to argue about everything, and we have butted heads on many subjects. But when we are creating a painting, the silent communication we have together is an art. We get into a rhythm, and it is like a dance we do. Anticipating each other moves, and flowing together as one.

Many expert riders feel this with a well trained horse, the “Be One with the Horse” concept. I feel the same with Metro. It just so happens I am at “one” with Metro when we are painting.

But Metro doesn’t care about the critics or the attention. Well I take that back, he cares about the attention…  alot. He has an ego the size of a horse, and is the biggest showboat I have ever met.

But the critics, he would just tell to kiss him right under his tail.

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Metro and large canvases

I have been reluctant to work on large canvases with Metro, even though his painting style is more suited to a large format, he doesn’t always know his own strength. Besides breaking a lot of brushes, he has also been known to tear a canvas or two with his powerful brushstroke. This can be really frustrating when we’ve been working on one for 3 days, and Metro decides to tear a hole in it. And I was not really keen on investing $70 into a large canvas just to have Metro rip it to shreds.

So I decided to make the switch to cradled hardboard. It still looks like gallery wrapped canvas when painted, but instead of a tearable surface, the surface is made of 1/8″ hardboard. This means Metro is free to attack the painting in any way he chooses.

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With CCTV America scheduled to come out and film Metro for a segment that will air on CCTV and PBS, I thought it was the perfect time to introduce him to the large painting. It would look better on camera. Metro could make more brush strokes on a bigger surface without going off the edge. Horses have a blind spot directly in front of their face, so I don’t know how much of the canvas Metro can actually see while he is painting. I really think he just paints by feel. When I call him to the canvas, he knows exactly where to stand and the correct position to be in. As long as his paintbrush is of proper length, he is fine. If I give him a paint brush that is a little longer than he is used to, it really throws him off. So I really think he is painting blind.

Working small also means he will eventually fall off the edge of the painting, and not find his way back on. The large format allows him to make more brush strokes with out finding the edge. Not always great for the painting, because after the first couple of strokes, all the paint on the brush has been applied. Any stroke after two, means he is just smearing paint around. But it is great for TV, because he is just making lots of strokes and just going to town. We can always finish up the painting with better strokes later.

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The filming with CCTV went great, even though they were here for 5 hours. Usually with the news stories we have been filming, they are in and out in an hour. But this filming was different. This wasn’t going to be a 2 minute piece on the local news. This was going to be a 10 minute mini documentary that is going to air on a new show called Full Frame. It will air sometime in May on CCTV and PBS.

You can’t spend 5 hours with Metro, without getting a little of that “Metro Attitude”. And Metro showed the cameras every side he had to offer. He was great painting, but some of the other shots, he was quite nippy, restless, and just downright cranky. This will probably be the first segment that will show the temperamental side of Metro.

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Here is the finished painting that Metro worked on for the filming. He was basically just smearing paint around and making a mess of it while he was getting filmed, but in subsequent sessions, we were able to make a nice painting out of it. We decided to call it “Wild Horses” because everybody was seeing  figures of horses in the painting. It is amazing what kind of images you can find in one of Metro’s paintings, if you stare at it long enough.

Wild Horses

“Wild Horses” by Metro  $1100

36″x24″ Acrylic on 2″ deep cradled hardboard.

Available at Gallery 30. Will ship. Contact gallery30gettysburg@yahoo.com

Metro an Pork Chop’s birthday balloons

We like to expose our horses to everything possible. Horses think that everything is going to kill them, so the more they can overcome their fears, the less likely they are going to turn and run on the trail when they hear a noise or see something as scary as a plastic bag blowing in the wind.

It is fun finding things that we think is going to scare them, and help them overcome their fears. Tarps, plastic bags, cap guns, and box fans with streamers are all things we have exposed them to. Pork Chop and Metro get a bouquet of balloons every year for their birthdays. Pork Chop is usually unfazed by them, but Metro has a short memory. Just a year ago he was walking around with them in his mouth, but he forgot all that this year. In the video, you will see he still tries to pick them up, but gets scared when they move. Pork Chop lost interest pretty quickly, but Metro stuck around and investigated the balloons for awhile.

 

Metro’s New Liquitex Paint Markers

I have been wanting to give Metro a shot at using paint markers for a long time. We have tried to add some fine lines with smaller brushes, but Metro doesn’t have a lot of finesse in his brush strokes, and usually ends up breaking them pretty quickly. One of my concerns with the paint markers was the paint was enclosed in a plastic handle. I didn’t want Metro to bite through one, and end up with a bunch of paint in his mouth. Even though the paint is non-toxic, I am sure it doesn’t add a lot of flavor to his food, and I didn’t want Metro to be the only horse in the barn with a blue tongue.

Plus Metro is kind of particular with the shape of the brush handle he will hold in his mouth, and the length. But after taping up the marker handle really well with duct tape to give Metro a better grip, and to hold the paint in case he did bite through the handle, I was surprised at how quickly he took to the markers. I think he enjoys them more than the brushes.

We don’t plan on making whole paintings with the markers, but to use them to accent his brush work. The painting we are working on in the video is not complete. We are just laying down some fine lines, and then continue with brush work over the top. Hopefully leaving little spots of fine line and color.

A horse with a hobby