November 7th, 2011
As you probably know, Mark recently published the book Grand Prix Hopes as a fundraiser for RideOn Therapeutic Horsemanship. Mark and I thought that’d he have a little more free time now that it is done. Alas, he is still working 6 days a week.
We thought it would be fun for me to blog on Mark’ behalf until things calm down around here. Besides, I love bringing a different viewpoint to Mark’s creative story. So, here we go…
Topping my list for great – no ,incredible – news is the feature story you’ll find in the 805 Living Magazine this month titled Giving Back. It begins with a full page photograph of one of Mark’s equestrian paintings, and mentions the new book we keep talking about.
We are so grateful to Lynne Andujar and 805 Living for this article, and also for making it a priority to feature a charitable cause in almost every issue.
Mark worked so hard on the book, and it was really wonderful to open the magazine to page 23 and see it!
That’s all for now,
October 25th, 2011
My mom’s getting up in years. She and I are the last 2 of my original family remaining from the original 4 who did life together for decades. Mom is the one who took us to the photographer up the road from our house in Banning every year for our family portrait. She’s the one who got me my first camera so I could photograph President Eisenhower when he visited my first grade class in Banning, Ca.
My mother leaves a rich legacy. She had a wonderful daughter (my sister Marla), and she has 4 granddaughters and 3 great grandchildren. Not as big as your family, perhaps, but they are mine, and every single one of them is dear to me.
I wish I could gather my original little family together again and photograph a simple day in our lives. But if I can’t do that with mine, the second best thing for me would be to capture that for YOU. If your family is getting together for the holidays, wouldn’t it be great to have a family portrait experience that gives you the treasure of both a beautiful portrait for the wall, as well as a photographic essay that captures what life was about while you were all just together enjoying a day in your lives together?
October 4th, 2011
Most of you might expect that the best day one could experience in Peru would be watching the first rays of sunrise on Machu Picchu. Not so for me…although that sunrise was incredible. More on that later.On Sept. 7th, after spending so many days in the smog and haze of Lima, Aaron Young and I had the privilege of visiting a Quetchuan couple who live in the mountains above Cusco. They live at an altitude just short of 14,000 feet, and are farmers who grow root vegetables…potatoes, onions, beets, etc. The air is thin, but it’s the view from the front door of their low, adobe home that will take your breath away.
I don’t know but a few words of Spanish, and I know nothing of the Quetchuan language, but I didn’t need words to absorb the lesson God taught me that day.
Here’s a couple who have four children, and their two older children walk about 6 hours one way to school (they’re gone from Monday to Friday). They have no electricity, just recently got running water, and the “kitchen” where they cook their simple meals is basically just a two burner wood stove.
Are they poor? I don’t think so. Personally, I believe they live a very rich life.
I didn’t want to leave…I’ll probably go back. But even if I don’t, I’ll remember their smiles, and their affection for each other for many years to come. Their joy wasn’t because of worldly comforts. It was because of relationships with each other, with their family, with the land they till, and with their God.
Lesson learned…Lord help me live it here.
September 19th, 2011
Bill and Diane Branson are great friends of ours from Raleigh Durham. They were in LA this weekend, and we all went to the Tim Burton exhibit at the LACMA.
Both Bill and I are classic portrait artists at heart. And we both naturally gravitate to Renaissance art. So we eventually left the crowds at the Burton exhibit, and drifted upstairs to see the old paintings and sculptures.
Check out what we we came across. I was astonished. The pink camel reminds me of Dr. Seuss. The dragon is dripping cartoon blood. There were others, too!
By the way, the Met in NYC had an entire exhibit dedicated to humor in Renaissance Art a few years back. Who’d have thought?
My takeaway from all this? Don’t take life so seriously. As you strive after beauty and technical excellence, don’t lose the lighthearted fun of it all.
September 5th, 2011
I just got the great news that my book Grand Prix Hopes, will be back from the publisher in time for a book signing I’ll be doing at RideOn Therapeutic Horsemanship’s fundraiser in a few weeks.
When I first heard that riding a horse could help a child’s physical problems, I thought that sounded a little unrealistic. But, having seen what’s happening at RideOn with my own eyes, I was amazed. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more passionate group of people! Hippotherapy has a huge influence in improving balance, communication and behavior for people with all sorts of disabilities.
It’s been a privilege to help RideOn through this coffee table book project. The book features paintings of premier Olympic champions, and young riders who aspire to similar success.
The signing is part of the September 24th fundraiser that will be held at Rancho de Caballos, which is Charlie Chan’s old property in Hidden Valley. Olympic gold medalist Will Simpson and several other featured riders will be there to sign the book with me.
If you’d like to come to the event, it is $150 a person, and is worth every penny! Hope to see you there. Here’s the link to get your ticket…
August 25th, 2011
There was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Peru this morning, and coincidentally, I’ll be going there on Sunday.
My trip was initially to be an assignment I’ve dreamed of for quite some time. Though there were no casualties as a result of the earthquake, I’m sure this will change things a bit. I know their needs were enormous BEFORE the earthquake. I have no idea what to expect when I get there.
My trip was planned awhile ago in conjunction with Food for the Hungry.’s Trek for Hope 2011. I’ll be shooting both still and video of their current projects, and because the earthquake was nowhere near the region I’m going, it won’t affect this part of the assignment.
I’m also going to be creating a personal photo essay that will contrast my life with the life of a Peruvian man who’s about my age, exploring the radical differences between nearly every aspect of our lives. Peru’s poverty rate already standing at 52%! This visual essay will be used to raise awareness of the incredible needs of other cultures across the globe.
The story will unfold in the next couple of weeks, so check back often.
August 16th, 2011
The Hernandez family dropped by the studio yesterday to see their painting for the first time. I love that Ethel gasped and cried when she saw it. Tears are good in this case.
July 15th, 2011
I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful setting than Equisports International for this portrait of 11 year old Kaelyn Shurtz. I love how it captures her easygoing relationship with the spirited horse, Casanova. Kaelyn had a special relationship with her grandmother Gwen, who who passed on her lifelong passion for horses to Kaelyn. I am grateful – and fortunate – that I get to create portraits like these. I hope I never take it for granted. Thank you, Shurtz family!
July 13th, 2011
When Chris and Melissa Tota told us how much they love Cape Cod, I knew Leo Carrillo would be the perfect beach for their portrait. I love this painting. And I love that several people who unexpectedly visited April’s painting studio had high praise as well. Thanks for letting us live the dream, Chris and Melissa! We are so blessed to be able to do what we love as artists!
This portrait perfectly captures the happy, energetic and spirited relationship between Grace and James. I’m so glad they included it in their portrait collection.
June 30th, 2011
My very spry 90 year old father in law was married to Peggy Smith last month. It’s so great to see them anticipating their future together. It was fun to be a wedding photographer again, though I still think this more elegant portrait is my favorite of the entire event.