Tag Archives: heelers

Wishes and Heeling

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The past day or so has been jam packed with ideas, inspiration and wishful thinking (i.e. crafting the future with positive thoughts). I spent yesterday at Green Ridge Stables, home of Roy Powell and his Rocky Mountain horses.

Roy employs two blue heeler dogs in his work at the farm, which involves the breeding and training of these beautiful horses. Arp and Gizmo are his, handsome, hard-working, well-behaved heelers whom I drove down to visit and photograph for the afternoon. The dogs displayed their ability to help Roy get horses to do things they may not want to do, at least at first, such as getting into a trailer for transport. Instead of more forceful, human derived forms of persuasion, Roy’s dogs run around and bark at the horses “telling” them what they need to do. I watched a horse get into a trailer with seemingly little work on the part of the dogs – and it was only her second time. Thanks to the work of these scrappy little dogs, she was already getting the hang of it.

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Arp and Gizmo look to Roy for commands and guidance and they are always ready for work. I was impressed by the sense of purpose in these dogs and am now loaded with images and ideas to draw on for my potential book idea.

For further book inspiration, this afternoon I attended a panel lecture at our Main Library downtown, which featured ten local picture book artists on hand to talk about their work and answer questions. What I came away with was a comment from illustrator Loren Long that the most important thing in this line of work is that you have to love what you are doing.

Last night, after an amazing dinner and rich talk of art, story, teaching and travel opportunities, we each lit an Ameritti label and watched it burn then fly up into the air carrying with it our hopes and wishes for our future plans… I’ll keep you posted on mine!

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a job to do

Everybody needs a job or at least to feel some purpose in their lives. This true for people, (both children and adults) as well as for dogs. Some dogs I know, my own included, seem to be happy casing the neighborhood a couple times a day on a walk and ridding the yard of rodential vermin. We used to have a Labrador whose soul purpose (pun intended) in life was to fetch a saliva slimed tennis ball. He could do this for hours.

I have been thinking a lot lately about dogs with jobs other than just as pets. One of my favorites of these “working breeds” is the blue heeler, a form of Australian cattle dog known for its herding abilities. Next week I am going to pay a visit to a farm down in Kentucky that employs a couple of these dogs. My goal is to take tons of pictures and some video footage of them in action. And then make drawings.

There is something about these dogs that appeals to my dog-drawing side and I am feeling the need to follow that thread these days, along with all the other stuff going on in the studio. I have had the idea for years that it might be fun to produce a picture book. So we’ll see where it leads. My “job” as artist is one I enjoy, even with its rather winding path.
Below are some sketches of heelers…