A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. September's Theme: "Opening"
Volume 3 Issue 6 ISSN# 1708-3265
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THE MAJESTIC ARTIST
by Renee Chambers
There he stands, magnificent and peaceful, the sounds of nature surrounding him as he creates his art. His crystal clear eyes reflecting the image which is perched on the easel in front of him. His strokes are smooth yet deliberate. Occasionally he flicks his brush, which he holds delicately in his teeth as the water colour droplets dance to the paper. The neighbor's palomino watches from the other side of the fence with curiosity and maybe even a glimpse of envy.
The artist, Cholla, a horse, named after the infamous cactus, turns his head and gives me his brush. I smile and apply more paint to the bristles. He gently takes the brush from my hand and returns directly to his masterpiece. The image he is creating is captivating. It's stimulating essence is full of life itself.
I remember back when I first got Cholla, my first and only horse, he was five and a volatile time bomb. Cholla had been broke the old fashioned way with ropes and force, a method called "sacking out". This is where the cowboys halter the horse, then tie a rope to each limb, get the horse to the ground and tie him off so he is fully restrained. The horse fights till completely traumatized and exhausted. Cholla, now twenty years old has deep scars at his fetlocks (ankle joints) from these ropes. At that point the cowboys rub 10lb sacks of flour up, over, and down the horse's body. This is supposed to teach the horse that man is more powerful. Well what it did for Cholla was to teach him not to trust man and his intentions. I am sure he will never let go of the memory of this cruel experience. I sometimes wonder what limitations and emotional scars it has left Cholla to deal with in the depths of his own mind.
Owning a sacked-out Mustang is fraught with trials and tribulations. In the beginning he hated any kind of rope, men with hats, trailers, farriers - the list was a long one. Gradually I was able to talk him through fearful situations. His intelligence now tells him he is well taken care of and capable of trust. Cholla shows love and trust towards me, but he is fearless - ready to explode into instinctive survival mode at any time. Cholla's spirit and intelligence were not diminished from this brutal practice, if anything they were heightened. I have spent many years gaining his trust, and still to this day, if he feels threatened, he will let you know so.
Cholla was born from a Mustang stallion and a Quarter horse mare in 1986. Although he has mellowed somewhat, he is still very much attune to his Mustang bloodline. Still quite wild, he is free to be who he is, not mentally or physically manipulated into submission as most horses are. Cholla has good manners and respects me because he wants to, not because he feels he has to. Cholla never hides his emotions, his essence is untainted and free, I guess that's part of the reason why he is an artist. His art reveals an uncontaminated pureness, and through his art there is something proclaimed which is unexplainable.
Cholla's art is collected world wide in original and giclee formats. We are active in contributing to animal charities including helping the wild Mustangs here in Nevada where we live.
I must give my husband, Robert, the credit for inspiring me to set up the art studio atmosphere for Cholla. You see, it was late spring of 2004, I was painting the corral fence for the upteenth time and Cholla was following with me step by step. Watching the procession, my husband called out, "Why don't you get that horse to paint the fence?". I giggled and continued my tedious chore. As my imagination took over, I recalled that elephants can paint, I bet Cholla would love to paint too! I thought to myself, Cholla has always loved to hold things in his mouth, but I wasn't about to let him hold that drippy latex brush, so I got him a real artist brush and a set of high end water colours. I chose water colors for his medium for the sake of his safety. At first I tacked a piece of water colour paper to the fence and showed him one stroke. He understood completely with a capacity for understanding which I can't quite explain.
He took the brush in his teeth and knew just what to do. He never chews on the brush and even from the very beginning Cholla has always been very careful not to drop his treasured implement.
I purchased him a big sturdy ornate iron easel and he made the transition to the easel without hesitation, in fact now when he sees me set up his easel he is right there ready to paint. I don't even have to call him in from the pasture. Because of Cholla's Mustang survival instincts, he is always aware of his surroundings. He notices things that other horses may not. Cholla is always paying attention, believe me, he doesn't miss anything which can sometimes be exasperating.
I place the paper on the easel for him, and apply the paint to the brush and that's it, he does the rest. I have seen him roll the brush in his teeth in order to achieve his desired stroke. He taught himself how to flick the brush and splash the droplets onto his creations. He knows he is painting, it is quite obvious he reaps great enjoyment through his passive practice.
In the beginning I would encourage his gentle, delicate strokes with a treat, but it's not about the food. Cholla is a true artist. He sometimes takes great sighs in between his strokes, while waiting for me to saturate his brush with new paint.
I am not an artist. Painting and drawing have never been something I was very good at, although I am a trained Ballet dancer with an understanding of how art manifests itself into existence. Art is an expression of intelligence and Cholla's intelligence is quite extraordinary. I believe the more ones intelligence is acknowledged, the more it develops - be it man or beast. I believe Cholla's pure connection to nature is revealed in his art and his divine astral thread vibrates with virtuous tones as he paints. His art is one of a kind and completely unique. I feel extremely fortunate to have this ethereal connection with such a magnificent creature. I have learned deep truths about myself through the wisdom of this imperial entity named Cholla.
Renee and her husband, Robert, live with Cholla on their ranch
in Nevada. They donate a percentage of art sales to different charitable organizations including
The Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association, a non-profit organization which helps the wild
Mustangs there. Renee is a dancer, yogini, vegetarian, marathon runner, and the woman who taught
Cholla how to paint. www.ArtistisaHorse.com
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Any advice given is for informational purposes only.