Updated: Jul 4
Drawing my mare, Darma
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
~ Wayne Dyer
In the Harry Potter movies, the characters in paintings move and have a life independent of the viewer. Sometimes they are frozen, painted as the artist must have posed them. Other times they are moving, talking with the viewer or each other, or absent and elsewhere, going to some other painting in another house – as if there is another realm beyond the frame and canvas threshold that allows us to see them.
Likewise, in the movie “Witches” – a little girl is cursed by a witch to spend her life in a painting of a farm. Each time the viewer looks at it they see a slightly different painting. The farm is the same, but the girl, though static upon viewing, has moved position; one day feeding the ducks, the next looking out the farmhouse window. And even more mysteriously – she ages…
I have discovered that my artwork, and likely many other works of art through the ages, is living art. I believe the creation of the art is connected by some mystery unbeknownst to me but known to the Universal Wisdom, and also I believe the horses or beings in the painting themselves seem able to change, interact, and affect those who look upon them.
“Heritage” portrait of *Moment © Kim McElroy 1991
One of the first times I realized this was through one of my paintings called “Heritage”. “Heritage” was inspired when I read an article about the Russian bred Arabian horses. I was struck by how different these Arabians seemed from the others I’d seen photographed. I had the concept of painting a Russian Arabian against a backdrop of the Cathedral of St. Basil. In Red Square. I decided to create this pastel as I had done with a few others by using white silk, which was quite a challenging medium to use as it cannot be erased. I chose a chestnut Arabian horse and began the painstaking process of transferring the drawing and starting the pastel painting on silk. Unfortunately a ways into the painting, I was leaning on the artwork with my elbow to get the angle just right, and I inadvertently dented the foam core backing the silk was mounted on. It is rare that a piece is ruined when I am working on it and I was devastated as you can imagine. Discouraged, I put the painting into a closet and forgot about it.
Years later I met a woman on Bainbridge Island who bred Russian Arabian horses. When I told her of my idea, she put me in touch with a woman who owned what she considered a star in those circles, a horse named *Moment, brother to the famed National Champion *Muscat. *Moment was owned by her friend Sharon Davis. Sharon sent me some photographs of *Moment. I chose one stunning view of him facing the camera. When I enlarged the sketch, the pose was within ½ inch of the pose I had originally chosen for the composition that had been ruined. This was the horse I was meant to paint!. This taught me a valuable lesson to never give up on an inspiration – just to be patient and wait for the right elements to come together.
“Heritage” was my first painting including any kind of architecture and the effect was stunning and three-dimensional. People always had very intriguing responses to the painting when they discovered that the horse’s eyes would follow you 180 degrees as you moved. At art events I used to point this out to people and it was fun to watch them discover this uncanny effect.
Kim with Moment in 1993
I had the opportunity to meet *Moment in 1993. His charisma was palpable, and it was uncanny after looking into his eyes in my painting for 2 years, to see him looking back at me. He was a gentleman and a lovely being and I felt blessed to have the opportunity to witness his beauty in person.
When I painted *Moment I had high hopes of selling it to his owners or to fans of this beautiful stallion, but alas only a few prints sold and I had the original for 11 years before the painting found its final home. A woman who had been a fan of my artwork saw my display at a horse event and she wanted to purchase the print of “Heritage” I had on display. I mentioned I had the original at home still for sale. She was so in love with the artwork she decided to buy the original based upon the print. She didn’t own horses, much less Russian Arabians, yet for some powerful reason she could not explain she had to own this painting.
When I returned home from the show, I was walking through the house one day and I looked at the painting on my wall for the thousandth time. Suddenly I saw it had changed. I called to my husband Rod and I said “Look at the painting of *Moment, what do you see?” He said, “He looks happier”. And indeed he did! The expression of *Moment in the painting had changed!..
Later I found out that *Moment had passed away a couple years before Carol found the painting and gave it a home… perhaps some aspect of *Moment lives on in this work of art…
Enjoy “Living Art” Part 2 here