"TALL TAILS" DRAWINGS OF HORSES 1970 - 1974

A handbound, limited edition book printed on Japanese Paper Stock. Forty-Six pages printed on Kikusui Parchment center fold 7" x 11" landscape format. The cover stock is Iwahada Sand with two interleaf pages of Silk with Horsehair and type set Cally 721. Personally assembled and handbound in a traditional Japanese sewn twine fashion, signed and numbered by the artist with a twist of horses mane sewn in on a special fold out cover. The last section brings the art up to date with eleven colour reproductions of current paintings with equine imagery created in 2006 and 2007.

Price $170.00

Preface

My earliest memory is of riding a rocking-horse towards flames in an open fireplace. As the horse crept closer and closer, I felt greater and greater heat, yet I refused to stop. Memory ceases here but evidently someone lifted me out of danger.

As a child, I converted a wooden chair into a horse, using black liquid shoe polish for hooves, white for ‘stockings’. An upside down shoe box was fastened to the chair top for a head, embellished with eyes and ears. Strands of wool created mane and tail, and loops of rope, stirrups. Gripping the chair back and keeping my feet in the stirrups, I could rock across the kitchen floor in imaginary adventures. Heavy snowfalls increased my ‘herd’, for I built and rode innumerable snow horses. In a grocery store downtown, I spent hours riding a mechanical palomino with a real saddle and bridle of leather. Not having a dime to animate it proved irrelevant.

Television was a new phenomenon at that time. Before I saw one in operation, I noticed printed advertisements with each screen showing a singer or cowboy, perhaps a horse. I wished I could buy the one that showed horses – in my innocence I never dreamed that it would show anything else.

Several china horses were named, treasured and played with daily. I fashioned saddles or harness on them out of plasticine, then painted them with shoe polish. Sometimes I built sleighs or wagons behind the horses, and created dramatic settings.

Throughout childhood and adolescence, if I wasn’t a horse myself, I was riding one – horses only I could see. Visible ones covered schoolbooks or scraps of paper, so idealized that they existed in another world, as these three examples show. Winged horses held particular fascination as the ultimate mode of escape. If paint or ink were temporarily absent but inspiration white-hot, I resorted once more to shoe polish: gleams of light over dancing horses instead of shiny shoes.

In my mid-twenties, I exchanged the noise and smog of city life for quiet woods and fields in Nova Scotia. At the local Fall Fair I discovered the joy – and challenge – of drawing live horses, bringing my fanciful ones down to earth with charcoal, conte, pencil, felt-tipped pens and oil pastel. Speed and a memory for a shifted pose became necessary to capture restless subjects with any accuracy.

Humans, however, proved a bigger problem in wanting to watch me draw. I drew from ladders, stacked bales of hay, even the tops of box stalls to escape observation, thereby struggling with foreshortening as well.

Though horses remained in my heart, expressing them visually ceased until late autumn in 2006, over thirty years. Suddenly their images burst out anew, lifting me on great energies, and these older drawings became very helpful. The final section of this book shows the latest horse images.

According to J. C. Cooper, the horse in traditional symbolism is both solar and lunar, a life and a death symbol; power, wisdom, mobility, fleetness of thought and of life. It is also associated with instinct, fertility, wind, waves, and possesses psychic and prophetic powers. The winged horse is purity, intellect, life, light, poetic aspiration; also, according to J. E. Cirlot, intuition and the heightening power of natural forces – the innate capacity for spiritualization.

Drawing horses taught me much about strength and simplicity, gentleness without weakness, feeling rather than sentiment. In their great forms I found light and dark creating each other. In their fathomless eyes I felt the mystery that will always inspire.

Come with me to the Fall Fair! Linda Johns

Tall Tails 2007
Limited edition book printed on Japanese Paper Stock
7" x 11"
$170.00