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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Artful Animal Portraits of Lisa Jewell

A Jewell by Lisa Jewell: "Gracie" 40" x 30" Acrylic on box canvass.  On sale at "A Gallery of the Arts", Claremore, OK.

Some people play beautiful music by ear.  Others cook delectable dishes without recipes.  Lisa Jewell paints animals by instinct.  One look in the eyes of the subjects in her paintings and you know that animal.  Her brush imprints the essence of the individual.  To say she is painting or even producing art of our beloved horses, dogs and cats is a misnomer.  Jewell is a portrait painter, and even that doesn't do her justice.  We will call her a portraiturist.

Beretta on canvass and...

...in Real Life with Jewell.
The portrait succeeds where the photo fails...capturing the personality and inherent beauty of the horse.
Jewell paints from photographs, often very poor ones, and produces the likeliness of the animal with spooky perfection.  I received the gift of a Jewell Christmas ornament with Ace's portrait on it.  When I looked at it, I cried.  I remembered the day the photo was taken: damp, leaden sky, cold, but there was my Bijou looking brightly back at me as he always does, "Hello, My Human!" from a glass bulb.  Jewell has never met Ace.  The photo was of a black horse without any benefit from the natural light.  But there he was, in miniature, in all his sweetness and individuality: a gift of Jewell's brush.
My Precious on a Christmas Tree Ornament: Ace is on the bottom left.

Jewell's gift began to manifest itself when she was five years old, but she only picked up a canvass and some paints full time 3 years ago, with help from a benevolent and supportive hubby.  Jewell's talent now flourishes from the couple's acreage in Oklahoma.  Her modern and minimalist style uses bold, tertiary background colors which augment the beauty of the subject.  The placement and angle of the subject lend further interest to the works.  You do not look at a Jewell portrait and say to yourself, "I could have painted that."

"Medicine Hat" 18" x 24", Acrylic on canvass,  "I had the idea to do a painting with a little Southwest or Indian twist to it," Jewell said.  She was inspired by Medicine Hat paints of Native American lore.
The title of Jewell's blog is Mateo Painting.  Very fitting as 'mateo' means 'gift from God'.  Follow the life of a painting from inception to completion via her blog:
For more information on portrait commissions, paintings for sale and other Jewell artworks, visit her website:

"Sunny Dressage Horse" 30" x 40" Acrylic on box canvass, for sale at "A Gallery of the Arts, Claremore, OK. 
If you are considering a portrait of your horse, dog, cat, longhorn [yep, she's done one!] or any other animal, your search for the artist is over, you've discovered the amazing instinctual art of Lisa Jewell.

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Accidental Sagacity Corporation company.

Friday, January 28, 2011


HayHuts make happy horses, happy owners and happily fit in the bed of the truck!

Sterling Graburn introduced me to a fantastic product for feeding big round bales of hay: The HayHut.  This is the most exciting thing I've seen in a long while.  A plastic house with windows that COVERS THE BALE, reducing waste, protecting the bale, encouraging good eating manners in horses, made in America by Americans with hardware bagged by individuals with disabilities and one model made of recycled material and rated "exceptional" in a study by the U of Minnesota.  This is GENIUS.

In green or recycled, UV resistant black, HayHuts have 8 tall windows with rounded edges to eliminate mane breakage even in tall horses, fit  up to 1600lb bales- round or square with all kinds of engineering features make this the Best. Thing. Ever.

HayHuts is the brain child of Denis Thornton, an English ex-pat, retired British Navy fighter pilot, who sold his Austin Healey 3000 Mark III [very fancy British sports car] to finance what his friends told him was a crazy scheme.  Considering that most horse people are also crazy, this is, in fact, quite sensible.  I told Thornton everyone should have one of these and he replied, "Some day everyone will."

For more information on this wonderful product and 35 reasons to love HayHuts, visit the HayHut website:  http://hayhuts.com/index.htm  Be sure to click on the blue links to see photos of HayHuts "diligent young craftsmen" and Fargo "the HayHuts Hound".

Thornton posing with a HayHut and satisfied customer on the left.  Thank you for trading in the sports car, Denis!

There is nothing not to love about HayHuts.  Hail and blessed be the hour we all look pastureward and see our horses contentedly munching hay through the windows of one.

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Accidental Sagacity Corporation company.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brewster & Co Courtesy Carriage Association of America, Frey Carriage Co & NY Times Archive

In keeping with the Carriage Association of America's Winter Conference this weekend in Minneapolis and Frey Carriage Co's recent acquisition of a Brewster Phaeton, I include a link to the New York Times Archives detailing Messrs. Brewster & Co's Annual Exhibition, where vehicles like the one below would have been on  show.
Frey Carriage Company's Brewster Peters Phaeton: polished like a cherished archive of excellence.

Brewster made award winning carriages from 1810 and in 1905 morphed into making auto bodies for Rolls Royce and others until 1935 when the company, ravaged by the Great Depression and despite continually winning accolades for their body designs, closed in bankruptcy.  For years the Brewster Trophy was the most coveted harness prize at Madison Square Garden Horse Shows.  Edward King, manager of the New York National Horse Show referred to Tiffany & Co as the "Brewster of jewelers".  Cole Porter Sang" You' re the top!  You're a Ritz hot toddy!  You're the top! You're a Brewster body."  Ironic that Brewster should be named in a song from Anything Goes, as James Brewster was teetotal and payed his employees with high wages as long as they would not drink on the job.
The Hallmark of a Carriage Builder: Brewster Oil Cap stamped with Vehicle Serial Number.  Photo: Frey Carriage Co

Brewster was a sign of quality in workmanship, design and detail.  For every carriage Brewster built, detailed records were kept: customer order information and vehicle description and specifications.  The CAA has an online record for members of all the transactions in the Sales and Specifications Books.

It is with gratitude to the NY Times for archiving our history through news stories, Frey Carriage Co for restoring our history through carriages, and the CAA for preserving the relevance of a business  forced to reinvent itself after 90 years.  And to the Brewster carriages, themselves, which prove, quality never goes out of style and just gets better with age.

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Accidental Sagacity Corporation Company.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Frey Carriage Company's SSSC: Smart Sexy Sprint Cart

Frey Sprint Carts are Smart.  Smart Carts are Sexy.  Therefore: Frey Carriage Co's Smart Sexy Sprint Cart.
If you are in the market for an entry level vehicle that will help you train and condition your horse with enough style to take you down the road or up to preliminary CDE's, Frey Carriage Company has Smart Sexy Sprint Carts for $2495.  [Well, yes, I may have taken a liberty with the name of the vehicle...]  Frey Carriage Co has put a lot of research and development into this vehicle and it shows: American made in the tradition that once made this country great.  In fact, that is what I think really sets Frey Carriage Co apart from other carriage manufacturers: tradition infused with innovation.

Clean lines, precision in every detail.  If Coco Chanel made Sprint Carts, this would be her little black dress.  This vehicle is De Con Architecture of carriage building and design. 
Frey Carriage Co's king pin, Todd Frey, has a soft spot for traditional vehicles.  His engineering and architectural background mean that Frey looks first to form and function and then to fashion.  The old vehicles were powerful examples of engineering and beauty and Frey has studied them all from the unique perspective of the restoration process.  Yet, he has the foresight of a designer: innovation with modern materials.

If a Kentucky Style Breaking Cart and a Whiskey Gig were crossed and put in a time machine set for 2011, the offspring would be called Frey Sprint Cart.
The Sprint Cart is evidence of this.  It isn't a bench seat set on an elliptic spring bolted on an axle with two bicycle wheels and tubular steel shafts from a folding chair manufacturer.  I have written before about proprietors who go to enormous lengths to supply the finest products anywhere on earth to a discerning public.  Todd Frey is yet another example of the pursuit of excellence in manufacturing in an increasingly outsourced world.

Openly Bi-Functional: Swingletree has a Hook for Traditional Slotted Traces or an Eye for Marathon Shackles.  Frey Sprint Cart can take you from High Class to the Other Side of the Tracks. 
The Sprint Cart's seat sits sleekly above the wheels [where you should be, IMHO] on shock absorbers and has further height adjustment to accommodate different sized horses.  The toe board is at a graceful and functional angle.  So many modern carriage builders confuse the toe board with the dash and do not leave adequate leg room.  Modern bells and whistles include adjustable seat, axle and shafts, marathon wheels and tires then top it all off with an impeccable Frey Carriage Co finish and why would you want anything else?

Agile and quick but highly refined: a perfect marriage of form and function.  "Any color- so long as it's black." Henry Ford
Distinguish your SSSC with a custom package: Country Vehicle, Marathon, Presentation or simplly invest in a wedge seat to get you up where you belong...above all the competition.  Speaking of which, the nearest comparable vehicle has a ticket price more than $1500 above the Sprint Cart.  This is not accidental sagacity, the Frey Sprint Cart is smart and sexy.

I'm putting my name on the list for a spring delivery.  So I can be smart and sexy.  For more information on Frey Sprint Carts: http://www.colonialcarriage.com/item.cfm?id=1070
or follow them on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Frey-Carriage-Company/137070584654?v=wal
or do the old fashioned thing and call them: [920] 623-1998.

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Acciental Sagacity Corporation company.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Different, But Not Less

I finally got around to watching Temple Gradin, starring Claire Danes and had to chide myself for knowing too little about this extraordinary woman.  I have heard of Dr. Grandin's work on behalf of slaughter animals and have a personal and professional connection with Autism.  What this film did was let me "see in pictures" an angle of Autism and animals that equaled an epiphany.

Working with individuals diagnosed under the spectrum of autism in therapeutic riding, I was introduced to the idea that they did not see things the same way as I did.  The horses were always a bridge between my view and theirs.  I learned so much from them about perspective and tried to understand with greater patience.  When my nephew was diagnosed with Austism, I relied on those experiences, but on a personal level, I felt out of focus with him. Without the horses, I struggled to see his view.

This film put perspective to the puzzle.  "I've got it!" I said.  Well, maybe not it, but the idea, anyway.  If you haven't seen this film, run to do so.  If you want to know more of Temple Grandin's work to design animal holding areas to reduce stress and enhance the beneficial treatment of slaughter animals:  www.grandin.com Or if you want to have a greater understanding of autism: www.templegrandin.com

I am going to start reading her books immediately.  Animals and Autism have something to teach us about ourselves.  Every one of us.

Different, not less.

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Accidental Sagacity Corporation company.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Own Mearh

Chevals Topp Mentor a.k.a. Ace, Bijou
Mearas were the famous horses of the Kings of Rohan of J. R. R. Tolkein's Middle Earth. They were valiant, strong, long lived and said to understand the language of men. Some horses live only in stories. Ace lives in mine.

This little black Morgan horse is quite possibly the standard of perfection for all horses. Ace is well structured with clean lines of conformation and dense, solid bone. He has intelligence that reflects in his eyes and sweetness in his manner. He is ideal mount for any level of rider and enjoyed by any level of driver. I don't need to attribute human characteristics to Ace; he assumes them.

Ace's clients fall in the range of age from 6 to 60, he drives single, pair and tandem. He always understands the type of work he is required to do and seldom complains. He does ask questions though, and I try hard to understand what he is saying. When I don't understand, he tries harder. And harder.

When Ace has a problem that I can't figure out, I stop and try to listen.  Some would interpret his problems as naughtiness and would try a more severe bit or other man made 'fix'. I just have to keep trying to hear what he is trying to tell me. Because as long as I work with horses, I will never understand their language as easily as they understand mine.

"And I was glad, because in the Riddermark of Rohan the Rohirrum, the Horse Lords dwell and there are no horses like those that are bred in that great vale between the Misty Mountains and the White." Gandalph, Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Accidental Sagacity Corporation company.