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RED SADDLES is a painting created from a photo that I took of saddled horses standing close together. I love cropping in on the animals when they are standing close like this. I added the Spanish flare of the Mexican regalia of the Charros -the Mexican cowboy, by choosing to paint the brown leather saddles bright red. This was a very bold move for me since I normally prefer the soft, subtle earth-tones of nature to more vibrant, bright, loud colors. Painted with acrylic on canvas, 30 x 48, in 2002.

I’d say that most of my earlier paintings are painted from photos that I’ve taken at rodeos and ranches, on days they work cattle in the corral, when the cattle and horses are near each other. This makes it possible for me to capture a layering effect of the animals in a composition of light and shadows falling across each animal’s back, neck, head, mane, and tackle. I often zoom in with the camera closely when the animals are together leaving little view of any background and filling my canvas mostly with the details and shapes of the animals themselves. The geometric interplay and angles in this piece speak to me. 

From the photo that I used to paint RED SADDLES, the saddles were your typical brown leather. But I’ve always loved the flair of the Charros, the Mexican cowboys. Charros are more colorfully decorated compared to the rustic western cowboy style. As a child it was rare to see this display of Spanish bright color and beauty. So today I find it glamorous and a true pleasure to see the dramatic displays in person. 

In the 1990s I took photos of some Charro riders all dressed up in traditional Mexican-Spanish attire presenting at a rodeo event in San Luis Obispo, CA.  I did a few paintings of these Charros for the California Cattleman’s Association Annual Art Show during that time. My style had been known mostly for subdued natural earth tones and sometimes only hints of color, sometimes a light watercolor muted wash of ocher or sepia over charcoal blacks and greys and sometimes deep indigo tones of blue. So bright RED SADDLES was a daring experiment for me, and I’m sure that the dramatic and colorful attire of the Mexican Charros also influenced me in my self-dare to paint these ordinary western saddles RED. 

I’ve always been most comfortable in my natural earth-tone realm, and I’ve never considered myself a colorist of any sort. But today I find myself responding emotionally to brighter colors, and painting with bold rich vibrations of saturated color. Perhaps RED SADDLES is an early hint of a part of me that’s been hidden inside, perhaps a part that has not been quite free to fully explore yet. I’m thankful for all my art over the years in the way that it all provides a diary of sorts of my life, reminding me of my feelings, my surroundings, my experiences, my age, my lessons, failures and victories, my insecurities and shyness, and perhaps my secret boldness too- which may be hidden away-waiting to be expressed.