Tag Archives: artist

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.

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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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