Tools of the trade

On my weekend off at Tanque Verde Ranch, after one group of students went on their way and another arrived, I had a bit of time to sketch on my own. As a city girl with no experience on ranches, I was fascinated with the tools of the trade — saddles, boots, ropes, anvils and horseshoes, all so worn and incredibly beautiful to draw. I spent a few hours sketching from a bench near the farrier’s stall.

From my bench I had a great view of Yoshi, waiting patiently for a ride with Angela, the head wrangler. I also had some company while drawing, because Joe — a wrangler who’s been working there since the 70s — sketched along with me. I managed to get a quick pencil sketch in of him too, when he stopped to eat some popcorn. That half hour spent in that quiet spot, in Joe’s company, was one the nicest sketching moments of the trip.

One Sunday mornings, the ranch serves up a pancake breakfast at the old homestead. The horses are parked there while people eat, so I had a chance to draw them. The cook who makes the pancakes offers leftovers to the horses. Some prefer their pancakes with no blueberries, so he cooks up a special batch for them.

43 Comments on “Tools of the trade”

  1. Y.B. De Ridder says:

    Love the horses! You see? Just like dogs but then different!


  2. AshleyWolff says:

    The way you handled the backlighting on Yoshi-gorgeous!


  3. Bernadette says:

    Aside from your quick sketches, I truly enjoyed the “story”of your days adventures, painting, drawings and sketches of Joe. Wondering if you got some of those blueberry pancakes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bernadette, I was so busy sketching that I never ate the blueberry pancakes. If I get to go back, I will have to try them. Some of my students had them, and of course I immediately regretted not trying them. But if there is a good scene to sketch, I always forget to eat something!!


  4. Love the stories and the sketches. The sketches alone express how much you were enjoying this special place.




    Now you are a “horse person”. Those are truly lovely paintings of the horses and their surroundings and tack and such. Great color choices also.


  6. -N- says:

    Nice work! Ready to saddle up the ponies and round up some dogies soon?


  7. susie langley says:

    Enjoyable sketches… and especially good ones of the horses!


  8. TonyU says:

    Beautiful sketches Shari. Great job with the horses and love all those wonderful colours! Hope Covid didn’t hit you too hard.


  9. Marilyn H says:

    Beautiful sketches Shari! I am most comfortable being in the saddle on my horse, barrel racing, sorting calves, trail riding – a cowgirl by name. I have so much opportunity to sketch at the barns but I don’t sadly. You’ve inspired me to get out of the saddle and sketch – or maybe in it!


    • Marilyn, you KNOW all the tools of the trade. Wow, I was really in awe seeing the wranglers and how comfortable they are on horses. I even met a guest at the ranch who stays there for a whole month just so she can spend every day riding. I saw her on a horse so often I thought she worked there.


  10. Love the boot sketch! Looks like you have been doing well with the horses from all your practice. Whoo-hoo, city girl!


  11. Chris Rusk says:

    beautiful form and gorgeous colour – you described the shapes and light, with feeling, so perfectly. What a great trip/opportunity.


  12. Sharon says:

    Thank you for sharing! I just love your descriptions and your paintings. You have such amazing skill. I particularly like the white highlights on the backs of the horses.


  13. Nancy Hall says:

    I love this!


  14. Cindy says:

    Sounds like a special time. Love the sketches and washes you created.


  15. LAURIE MURRAY says:

    Wonderful sketches Shari!


  16. Tom Jump says:

    Hi Shari, Love the western and desert themed sketches! These reminded me of a local artist/watercolorist who has exhibited at the Denver Art Museum- William Matthews whose work is all about the western/cowboy life and very well done. I have never been to his gallery downtown but have his book from the DAM exhibition. His website is Always great to see your posts and hope you’re doing well! ~Tom


    • Tom, I am well and it’s so nice to hear from you. I hope all is well with you too.
      Thanks for sharing the work of William Matthews. I just had a look. I like it a lot. Great drawing and really nice understated painting style. My favourite ones on his website are Co-pilots and Dawn Patrol. Wonderful work.


  17. Caroline says:

    I love this so much. You describe the experience in a way that makes me feel I’m there. I noticed how much reflected light there is on Yoshi’s underbelly (sorry, not a horse person!), where I might have assumed it would be dark as it’s facing away from the light. It gives the form its roundness and it’s good to be reminded that shadows do not have to be dull or dark to be ‘right’ and to work.


    • Caroline, thanks for taking the time to have a look.
      When I painted Yoshi, she was backlit, but it was still a very bright day and there was a lot of reflected light from the ground, so she seemed very warm to me. I had to make sure to leave light on the top of her back and add some dark in the background to accentuate that.


  18. “Yeee Hawww them there paintings be awesome.” I am not from the American West, but I do really appreciate how you captured these. The horses and the Cactus, Western Riding Boots etc. This arrangement of paintings tells a story of a particular place and culture.


  19. Flowerpoet says:

    What a wonderful post! I truly appreciate your skilled artistic talent. 🤩😍


  20. Judy Sopher says:

    I love this , paintings and story. We had quarterhorses for years and I miss it more than I can say .I didn’t ride western but I would have liked to have learned. And having been around horses so much I never drew them well. These paintings are wonderful and bring back so many memories.

    And by the way, did you get to ride?


    • Judy, I can see how people really get obsessed with horses. I didn’t grow up around them but I can see why people love them. As for riding, I thought I might give it a try but I didn’t have much free time and I decided to hike on my day off. I don’t regret doing that at all. Saguaro National Park is a real treasure.


      • Judy Sopher says:

        I didn’t grow up with them either. I was 26 when I decided to take lessons. I was an intern on call every other night. On OB, I was the only one so they gave me Sunday off. I had a whole rested day to do something. I took lessons and fell a lot but loved it. Was years before I rode well.

        How I wish I could walk a lot. But at 83 I am doing well. It is my art now that is my mainstay and it is cuz of you that I got into watercolor. So my thanks again.



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