Spirit, was created as a self portrait.
When growing up, I often thought of myself as this amazing, ethereal animal, soaring in the sky. When I was in the cloak of Spirit’s mask, I felt empowered, and beautiful.

I began seeing Spirit when I was about 12 years old. He was proudly muscular, with a thick, arched neck, and a mane and tail so full and wavy, that groups of hair up to 3 inches across would flow as one. His mane would caress the tops of his legs, and his tail was so long that it could only remain off the ground with the help of the wind behind him. I would picture him in a lush and green mountain side, a strong and free Spirit, a ruler of the land around him. At this time, he was a simply powerful horse, realistic in form, though mystical in spirit. I have always thought of him as that mystical, spiritual being. Eventually, his dominant characteristic became his calling card.

My very first painting was of Spirit, and at that time, my sophomore year in high school, he was a glowing Pegasus. His wings bowed upward with the pressure of his weight against the wind. I fell in love with the feeling of painting the moment my brush stroked the canvas for the first time. Creating a painting is a sensual experience. The canvas gently bows under the pressure of softly bending bristles full of glistening paint. The colors randomly fill in, and slowly, the forms begin to emerge. Magic happens.

I was so proud of that painting when I finished. I had carefully outlined Spirit’s form with rings of glowing white, each one softly becoming a shade darker, until they faded completely into the midnight blue background behind him. A dark orange moon cradled his shoulder, with Spirit’s wing softly responding to his circular form as he swooped beneath it. I gently placed the painting on top of the cabinets in our high school art room, randomly placed among about 20 others that surrounded the room, just under the ceiling.

Unfortunately, after a couple of days in the classroom, the painting disappeared. I haven’t seen it since. My heart was broken, and in a way, it still is... In my senior year, my anger over Spirit’s disappearance was portrayed in his second painting. This painting was much larger, measuring 4 feet tall by 9 feet wide. Spirit had shifted course in this painting, and was flying directly toward the viewer. Anger filled his eyes, and the deep orange moon in the background had turned dark red.

I went off to college the summer after doing that painting, and left the painting with my high school art instructor. It was to be hung somewhere in the school building. I put horses in the back of my mind while at college, with the thought of Industrial Design, and particularly, automotive design, becoming my all consuming life. After my first two years in art school, and not finding my calling, I finally realized my true self.

I quit school for a year and begged for a job taking care of horses. Though I had no prior experience with horses, I was eventually given a job at the Bloomfield Open Hunt Club as a groom. I had appeared for a second time, at the right time. A groom was needed, and I was accepted on a trial basis. The pay to start, was $5.50 an hour, but I earned more at that job than at any other job I have ever had. Earnings in the form of time with the horses, learning their form, feeling their presence and having a heart full of the pleasure of pure and honest work, gave me more than any monetary value ever could.

After a thorough year of experiencing the world of horses first hand, I knew I had to return to school so I could one day afford to have a horse of my own.
I eventually switched majors from Industrial Design, to Illustration, and at times, had the opportunity to paint horses for my assignments. At that time, during college, I had learned to use photo reference for my drawings and all of my paintings of horses were created using photos. I attended events whenever I could so I could collect reference, and I had an endless supply of paintings that wanted to be painted, and horses that wanted to be re-created.

After graduating, I was free and had thoughts of doing equine artwork professionally. I had joined the Michigan Equine Artist’s group, and participated in renting a booth at the Novi Horse Show Spectacular in Novi, MI in November of 2000. For the show, I decided to do a large and spectacular depiction of a dressage horse. I wanted a dramatic proportion to the painting, and settled on a 2 foot tall by 7 foot wide canvas. I had chosen the photograph that I wanted to use for reference, and after preparing the canvas, I stood in front of it with a stick of charcoal to sketch out the painting.

I felt a sense of reserve for a few moments, while holding this photograph in my left hand. But I promptly began sketching the new painting. After sketching for a while, I didn’t like it, and quickly smeared it away with my chamois. The movements with the chamois felt soothing, and a new form was created. I set the chamois down, and started sketching again with the charcoal. A gently arched head and neck appeared, flowing down along the canvas to the right. A gracefully powerful left leg lifted itself into view toward the left, and Spirit was born again.

I didn’t know that I was going to paint Spirit then, and was surprised to see him. I had never forgotten about him, but had just placed him on the backburner of my mind for more than 7 years.

I was so elated when I painted him, for I had reclaimed a piece of myself. I was that very horse I had shelved for so long, and for me, the painting embodied a power of Spirit - of personal growth. I felt it represented me as I was growing in this lifetime. And for the next couple of years after, I continued to see it this way. That is, until I realized how we are all one, and we are all rising in consciousness on this planet. I had this realization that Spirit Rising was about more than ME - it was about US - about humanity, as we rise in our evolution! Years later, in 2005, Spirit emerged again, this time, in a triptych. Three horses rising, fully in the sky. Again, I was overjoyed. Like no other experience I have ever felt, I was blessed, and euphoric, to channel this message from the horses. They are showing us who we are, and that we are all rising! This series of the Spirit horses has been my ever loving joy to share with all, and I know for so many, it touches you deeply. Thank you so much for witnessing the beauty of these messages. I am here for you. I paint for you. I give thanks for you, and to all the beautiful horses. They are an inspiration for my life and my continued Rising in this consciousness. I hope the same is true for you.

Spirit Rising

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