From Endurance to Dressage
STC Dressage Boot Camp - Part 4
Besides going to STC Dressage for a weekend of lessons, I also crammed in as much fun as a girl on her last weekend before school starts can. It all started on Friday afternoon ...
Have you looked at your USDF 2022 Member Guide recently? If you'll remember, my friend Terry Spehar-Fahey's original watercolor was selected for the cover. Her subject was Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, aboard her own gelding, Roulette.
Over the past year or so, Terry has been doing a series of paintings that capture the light and space of American ranch life. Her inspiration comes from the beautiful photographs taken by Kirstie Lambert. You can find Lambert on Facebook where she shares her photographs. They are stunning.
Terry and Kirstie have been collaborating in an effort to share the beauty of the lives of the ranches of Idaho and Montana. According to Terry, Kirstie's photos capture the exact space and light that Terry strives to express in her watercolor paintings. Terry was recently interviewed by Western Art Collector magazine where the journalist wanted to know more about the process of collaboration between photographer and artist. The issue will be available in October.
Knowing how much I enjoyed her painting of Sean and Rou, Terry arranged for several of us to view her show at the Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture located on the campus of California Lutheran University. While the gallery is open during business hours for public viewing, we went late in the day, so it turned out to be a private showing. That suited all of us quite well.
Terry is both a professional artist as well as a retired teacher of art so it was an absolute treat to view her work with her there to explain what we were seeing. She was patient and willing to answer my million questions. She discussed every aspect of her work from the medium used, to the time it takes to paint such large watercolors, to the subtleties of her work. She also showed us what she wanted the viewer to focus on and she achieved that. Her explanations brought each painting to life and helped me appreciate them so much more.
When we left the gallery, we headed straight to Terry's house for drinks and a dinner party. Terry loves to entertain, and her guests are never disappointed. Before eating though, we begged Terry for a peak at the rest of her work. Terry has stacks and stacks and stacks of unframed pieces, many of which were from her experience with art therapy. Years ago, those pieces were also in a gallery for a show even though they were intensely personal. We all marveled at her ability to paint images that conveyed her fears and feelings. They were truly astonishing paintings. Besides those more serious pieces, we also uncovered the original painting of Sean and Rou which was much larger than I expected it to be.
After dinner and way too many whiskey sours, Sean hauled me back to STC Dressage where we checked on horses before finally getting to bed around midnight. It had been a very long day.
The next morning, I rode of course, but shortly afterward, my friend Jen, the most amazing show/clinic/event organizer of all time, picked me up for an afternoon of laughter and fun. Our first stop was In-N-Out; we have three in Bakersfield, but none are easy nor convenient for me to get to. She ordered no onions, I asked for extra onions. We're a perfect pairing.
Our next stop was Fortissimo Farm where Laura Goodenkauf is head trainer. Laura had partnered with the Ventura County Chapter of CDS, of which Jen is Chairperson, to hold a clinic with Amelia Newcomb. Jen and I handled parking but afterwards, we did have time to watch some of the rides.
I have ridden with with Amelia twice and have found her to be a very kind clinician and coach. I am sure she's a bit tougher on her regular, every day clients, but as a guest clinician she is very encouraging and looks for the positive in order to support riders without intimidating them.
After the clinic, Jen and I headed back to Moorpark for our regular visit to Woodranch for dinner. We ordered a plate of ribs with sides and a plate of salmon with a side and promptly split everything in half to share. And even though we were both stuffed, we still had room for gelatos at Carrara's. Jen always gets mint chocolate chip, but I like to play the field. By the time she dropped me off at STC Dressage, I was practically sleep walking. Two late nights in a row is way out of my normal. And of course, I rode the next morning.
As planned, I had a jam-packed weekend full of riding, learning, and visiting with great friends. I think my next visit probably won't happen until late October which is disappointing but worth waiting for.
Have a great weekend. After this past one, I need a slow one, thanks.
Finding a Source of Pleasure
Do you remember that post I wrote about my artist friend, Karen Morovich? She gave me a beautiful painting that she did of Speedy. After seeing my reaction, Karen decided that the painting was even better than she had first thought. I think she started to see it through my eyes, biased as they are. I continue to be amazed at how beautiful the painting is. Anyway, she decided to get the image copyrighted.
While I am not privy to all of the details, Karen did share with me that it is a lengthy and somewhat expensive process. Fortunately, she received the copyright sooner than expected. She sent me a copy of the Certificate of Registration yesterday.
The certificate lists a registration number, an effective date of registration, and a registration decision date, May 2, 2022. Karen applied for a copyright registration for a group of unpublished works. To help her with this, I "unpublished" the image of Speedy from that earlier blog post. Karen explained that it is more difficult to copyright an image if it is already in the public domain. Her copyright includes ten works in total - Speedy, a cow, a giraffe, a gorilla, and six other works. With her permission, I have republished the image she sent me and included the copyright information.
Not long after Karen gave me a super high quality scan of the painting, I ordered a large canvas. I hung it in the very first part of our hallway so that I can see it from nearly every part of our kitchen, dining, and living room. It brings me so much happiness as I walk past it. I don't think I will ever get used to seeing it. Each and every time I look at it, it fills me with joy.
Later, Karen gifted me the original painting. A few weeks ago, I finally found the perfect frame for it. I know it's a little weird to have the same image hanging twice in your home, but the original is made even more beautiful by the blue-gray paint she used which produces a glittery sparkle. The paper she used, almost like cloth, adds another layer of depth to the work. I didn't think it would be possible, but the original brings me even more delight than does the canvas.
Karen has finally launched her website, www.karenmorovich.com, and it is now live. Some of her work is already available for purchase, and she has a lot of other interesting things on her site. You can even commission your own "Speedy."
Life has been a bit frustrating lately, but I am endeavoring to find those moments of happiness in the day to day struggle. Karen's painting of Speedy never fails to make me smile. Now that I think about it, isn't that what art is for?
Thank you, Karen, for giving me this priceless gift.
A few months ago I wrote a post about Terry Spehar-Fahey whose art graces this year's USDF Member Guide. In that post, and a few others, I hinted at another artist who was doing great things. I finally, finally get to introduce her. Everyone, please meet my friend and artist, Karen Morovich.
Like virtually all of my friends, we met because of an interest in horses. We were introduced a few years ago at a local wine tasting event, and I invited her out to the ranch for a ride. We hit it off, and have been friends ever since. One of the first things I discovered about Karen is her incredible artistic talent. Each time we meet up, I ask about her most recent work, and she is always happy to show me what she has been painting.
My art knowledge is limited to what our art specialist teaches the kids during their monthly art lessons at school. I know just enough, which isn't much, to be able to participate in a limited conversation. Even so, I always pepper Karen with all sorts of questions about art in general and her work in particular. Karen is a water colorist. Over the last few years I've learned a lot from her about paper - good paper is really expensive. I've also learned that she doesn't use the handy flip open the lid water color kits from Crayola. Real water color paints are much more complex.
A few months back, Karen asked if she could paint Speedy. First of all, she didn't need my permission, and secondly, YES! OH MY GOSH, YES! I immediately sent her a few photos from which to work. I know she is incredibly talented, I've seen what she can do, but I had no idea that she would capture his very soul. I knew the painting would look like him, but in it, I can actually SEE Speedy. I can feel him. His personality simply radiates from the paper.
When Karen emailed me the image, I almost burst into tears. She was able to capture Speedy's soul with just the hint of a portrait. Her style is to leave the image "unfinished" so that the viewer imagines what comes next. I won't have him forever physically, but Karen has made it possible for me to have Speedy's spirit with me until the day that I die. I now have a massive canvas of this image on my wall, and it is my forever lock screen on my phone.
Karen and I went to lunch a few weeks ago where she presented me with the original painting. It is magnificent. It is painted on paper that feels like cloth, and the paints that she used sparkle in the sunlight. She was happy that I loved the painting, but I am not sure she understands how MUCH I love the painting. As I asked questions about how she went about painting my beloved, I realized that I had to share her work here. Karen was gracious enough to answer all of my questions.
Can you tell me more about what inspired you to paint Speedy?
Karen Morovich: I have personally met Speedy and have ridden him. The reference photo of Speedy that was sent to me showcased his power and beauty which inspired the painting. Speedy was an easy subject for me to get excited to paint. Horses are one of my favorite animals as I have always loved horses.
What medium did you use?
KM: Watercolor. Types of paints I use: Mainly I use Daniel Smith watercolor paints. Some of the colors such as Kyanite that I used for the Speedy piece is a rich blue-gray with granulation which produces a glittery sparkle. When you see the original piece of Speedy, the sparkle of this color is visible. Some of the other watercolor paints I use have several colors mixed together in the tube and will separate into different colors when applied to paper. This is what makes watercolor fun. You can get unexpected results which takes away the control we have as an artist.
How long did it take to paint?
KM: About 3-4 hours. This includes my thought process and actual painting time. I painted Speedy in two sittings. When I am finished with a piece, I let it sit for a few days and then come back and look at it again to see if I am satisfied with it or want to add more. With most paintings, I will visualize the final piece before I start to paint. It always ends up different, but that is the unexpected part of painting that is exciting.
What is the size of the original painting?
KM: 12" x 16"
I know "Speedy" isn't for sale, but do you have other pieces for sale?
KM: Since you own the original paper version of Speedy, I still have the digital version available, so actually Speedy will be for sale on my website which is in development at the present time. I plan to place this image on products that will be sold on karenmorovich.com and other sites. I will have other images on products for sale once my website goes live such as throw pillows, throw blankets, notebooks, greeting cards, etc. Once I complete an original piece on watercolor paper, I scan it and size it to fit on products for my website. Digitizing my original artwork allows for so many options of placing the images on products. This will allow for many other people to enjoy Speedy on the product of their choice.
What is your favorite subject to paint?
KM: Animals. They have always been a part of my existence and spirit.
Do you paint other subjects?
KM: I do paint some food images. I have also done some garden tools, dragonflies, butterflies, snowmen, and pumpkins. I plan to do more seasonal images in the future to celebrate the holidays throughout the year.
Do you only paint what strikes you, or are you interested in doing commissions?
KM: I am interested in doing some commissions and have done several so far. My clients seem to be very happy with the pieces I have created for them. Some are their own pets, and one commission was an elephant that someone sponsored. There are lots of reasons and stories that come up when I have talked with a client about a commission and the reason for it.
How long have you been painting, and how did you learn? Are you self-taught, or do you have some art education?
KM: I have been painting for about 7 to 8 years. I learned through courses online and have only done a few in person workshops. I have no formal art education, but my painting comes from a natural place within me which is the intuitive part of painting that is hard to teach. The intuitive part of painting develops over time. I continue to learn and evolve as an artist.
Do you ever abandon a project and start over?
Yes, Yes, Yes! When I am not in the “flow” and the right frame of mind and I paint a subject, I can tell that it is not “right” and I will start all over. The “flow” of a painting determines the outcome and where I am in my connection with my creative self. This is the most important part of my painting process which is being connected to my creative self and allowing it the freedom to paint.
What should we know about you as an artist?
KM: I have always been drawn to color as it speaks a language to me, and I enjoy how colors relate to each other. I have always been creative but I started painting about 7 or 8 years ago. It just felt natural to paint as I moved into watercolor paints after I tried acrylic and a few other mediums. Watercolor gives me the freedom to allow the paint to do unexpected things, so it takes some of the control away from me and having to “paint in the lines.” Knowing when a piece is finished is always a balance of when enough is enough. I have learned that simplicity in painting can be the best, and the fewer paint strokes, the better. Here is a quote I found about painting which sums up why I paint and that I am honoring a part of me by doing it:
“I make art because it tells my soul that I am listening”
- Author Unknown
How would someone like me purchase one of your paintings?
KM: Karenmorovich.com is my website and should be live in the near future. I also sell my art on https://society6.com/karenmorovichcreations which is currently live and still in the development phase as well. Also, I have a “contact us” page on my karenmorovich.com website where individuals can contact me about doing a commission once my website goes live. The name of my business may change in the near future, but clients will be able to find me using my name, Karen Morovich.
Karen's work is absolutely beautiful. What I most love is the simplicity of her images, especially the animals she paints. She has a gorilla that just looks into your soul. Even though her work is "unfinished," the amount of personality and depth of feeling that she creates is stunning. Each animal that she paints is alive on paper. I can't get enough of it. I have seen Karen's unpublished website, and it too is beautiful. Once it is live, I will definitely be sharing it here on this space because of course I need "Speedy" printed on whatever she sells.
I say it over and over, but I am truly blessed to know the people that I do. Karen Morovich is just one of the many talented women that I have met because of horses. While her new website isn't quite ready, you can still see some of her work on her current site. If you'd like to reach out to her and ask more about her work, she can be reached at email@example.com.
I'll never get tired of seeing Karen's fantastic rendition of Speedy come-to-life.
USDF Cover Art
If you haven't yet received your 2022 USDF Member Guide, here's a sneak peek. If you have already seen the cover, let me introduce you to the artist, Terry Spehar-Fahey, who happens to be a friend. She is so incredibly talented, but you can see that for yourself. Before you read more, go check out her website.
What makes the cover art especially fantastic is that it features our trainer, Sean Cunningham (owner and trainer at STC Dressage), aboard Rou, Terry's horse. Terry and Rou are clients of Sean's which is how I came to know her. The painting is entitled, "Are We Done Yet?"
I am amazed by how many artists I know. Even more impressive is how successful those artists are. Am I just attracted to successful people, or are all artists experiencing success right now? I've always been impressed by people who can sing or paint or dance. I can't do any of those things which means people who can do them are basically super heroes. Who needs the Avengers when you have people like Terry Spehar-Fahey?
While at a dinner party at Terry's house this past summer - she throws fabulous parties by the way, she shared with us several of the paintings that she had submitted to USDF for the annual art contest. One look at her work, and I knew she was a solid contender for the win. A few months later, she let us know that her painting of Sean and Rou had been selected for the cover, but she asked us not to say anything until the cover actually came out. It has, so I now have permission to share her brilliant art work.
Once the Member Guide was sent out, I plied Terry with a list of questions about her work, and she graciously answered.
Well, what happened?
Terry: My painting, "Are We Done Yet?" was chosen to grace the cover of the United States Dressage Federation Member Guide. Sean Cunningham is aboard my horse Roulette G after a daily workout. Sean will just have to get used to seeing his face every time he hunts for the rules for a certain dressage test!
Can you tell me more about the painting of Sean and Rou?
T: It just was a moment where the light and atmosphere were captured by my camera! I wanted to paint it when I saw the photo.
What medium did you use?
How long did it take to paint?
T: That question is always tricky. It went well and probably took 20 hours plus 35 years of practice!
What is the size of the original painting?
T: The painting is 21 x 29 inches
I doubt "Are We Done Yet?" is for sale, but do you have other pieces for sale?
T: I do sell my work, and I do commissions. I like to take my own photos so they capture the light that I like and have enough detail from which to work. Sometimes I can work from other artists' photos. I am currently doing cowboys and girls of Idaho from a photographer who sees the world as I do. Everything she shoots speaks to me.
I see that you do landscapes, horses & animals, portraits, and Venice & Italy. Do you paint what strikes you, or are most of your pieces commissioned?
T: Generally I have always just painted what I am interested in at the time. But what unites them all is a sense of space and light. I like images that give you a sense of a moment in time captured. I work toward that no matter the subject.
What is your favorite subject to paint?
T: Light falling on a scene.
I know you taught art, but how long have you been painting, and how did you learn? Are you self-taught, or do you have some art education?
T: I have been a professional watercolorist since 1989 when I won best of show in an art fair, and I sold my first painting to strangers! Those people have become dear friends, and they have a museum dedicated to my work. I used to do a lot of street fairs, but that life is hard, so I stopped. I was represented by galleries in Mammoth Lakes, California for 20 years. I just painted my family enjoying summers in the Sierras and people bought them. I have a degree from UCLA in art, but watercolor has been a self-taught medium inspired by my love of Turner, Homer and Sargent watercolors.
What should we know about you as an artist?
T: As an artist, I just want to make stuff that I want to see. Some of it is technically challenging, and that is like a puzzle that I am trying to solve. Most of the time, the years of practice have given me a pretty good ability to just paint and make something I like. In 2022, I will be having a show of my Idaho rancher paintings, so I will be painting a lot of open spaces with cows and wranglers. These people are incredible horse folk. Trying to learn dressage gives me an appreciation for the ability to work with a horse to do ranch work. I especially love the little kids out there herding cattle. I know that might be playing the cute factor but they all have such great presence in the landscape. When the light hits them right-it is a feeling of place to which I really respond.
How would someone like me buy one of your paintings?
T: If you look at my website, you will see a price list for commissions, generally based on size. Someone can always contact me to see if we can work out something. If you are far away from me, I would have to see a photo to tell if I can work from your reference. I will be making a sales page on my website that will show current work that I have for sale. Much of the work on my website is older and already sold. I have to get better at making the site a sales tool! I post current work on Facebook and Instagram, and you can find me through those sites too.
Terry is an amazing artist, isn't she? I should stop being surprised by it, but doesn't it seem that horse people tend to be multi-talented? Every time I meet some new horse girl (or guy), it doesn't take long to find out that they also run marathons, paint, run an online tack shop, play an instrument in a marching band, carry a weapon for work, or have their pilot's license - all real friends by the way. Equestrians are a decidedly interesting group.
I have been blessed with many friendships that developed because of horses. Terry is just one more fascinating person that I have had the pleasure to meet and know. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she's also a wonderful human being. If you like her work, reach out to her and let her know. I know she'd be happy to talk to you.
I have another artist friend that I am hoping to introduce you to. I'm waiting for her to feel a bit more ready. Soon though, very soon!
I try to keep things on topic here which usually means all things equine. Occasionally I wonder off though and share about a vacation we've taken, or I'll write about my dogs. I don't consider that to be too off topic though as horses and dogs just go together.
Last weekend, my husband and I headed over to Bakersfield's annual Via Arte, an Italian street painting festival. Bakersfield's event is always held at the Market Place, an upscale, outdoor shopping and entertainment center. A large section of the parking lot is cordoned off where artists, both local and visiting, transform the asphalt into works of art with chalk.
The school where I teach is one of the only schools in Bakersfield that employs a real life artist, as opposed to me with my rudimentary kindergarten ability to draw. My teaching credential says I am qualified to teach art to kids, but who are they kidding?
Thank goodness for Miss K. She's an amazing art teacher, and our students love her. Do you know who Miss Frizzle is? Ms. K dresses just like her except her dresses are art and holiday inspired and well, just better. Ms. K and her team enter a lot of chalk art festivals as professionals, no adult ammies here. As often as not, she'll report back having won the people's choice award or even best in show.
When we got to the festival, I dragged my husband past each artist's spot scanning the crowd for Ms. K. When I finally spotted her resting in the shade, I squealed in delight. She had done the BEST piece of art.
Ms. K explained that the original painting, done by Domenichino in 1602, was of Giulia Farnese, the pope's mistress. She is pictured with a unicorn which represents virginity. The painting is entitled, A young Lady and a Unicorn. Via Arte's theme for 2018 was Italian art. I think Ms. K and her team nailed it.
Ms. K always includes two secret images in her work, a Mickey Mouse and a goldfish. I found the goldfish pretty easily, but I needed help for Mickey. Check out the unicorn's hooves and the base of the mane. Did you find them?
Hey, not so far from equine related stuff after all.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: