Next In Line
Original watercolor by Ellen Jean Diederich
At Medora last summer for my artist in residency, one of my goals was to photograph some of the wild horses. One day, I saw them down by the river and walked down into the mud using my telephoto lens, patiently taking shots despite the bugs buzzing around me. All authenticity fell to pieces when I figured out later they were owned by a rancher. Considering the fact that I often avoid a fire pit because of mosquitoes, this was quite a commitment. However, the next morning the horses at the stables were being geared up and my photography session was much more successful. This Palomino had just been brushed and was Next in Line to be saddled. I’m sure he wanted me to paint him.
Originally I started this painting on 300lb watercolor paper as a loose landscape painting hoping something inspiring would develop. Not too impressed, I stuck it sideways on my easel. The next day it became a beautiful background for one of my sketches of the stables. The Golden Palomino looked amazing right away but the paper didn’t survive my indecisive changes. “Do you feel the Palomino’s gaze?” It drove me to try again. The second time, holding a different photo of the girl in my hand, I moved it until it felt like she was facing the horse and drew her in “at that size” and “at that place” to create visual communication. The dark horse on the right, also vying for the girl’s attention, added to the story. Creating eye contact between the subjects added so much to the painting.