As the sun rises
The sun also sets
Strength comes in many forms
In power and majesty
And in grace and innocence
May the ancestors watch over us
And our loved ones
In this journey called life
~ Kim McElroy
Tane’ contacted me to commission a portrait of her World Champion Reiner Morgan stallion Morganquest Native Sun. The evolution of each portrait can be a journey in itself. Tane’ mentioned that she was drawn to Native American themes in her farm’s identity and her horse’s names and she asked me to include some element of that tradition in the portrait. In the meantime, I suggested she hire a photographer to take pictures of Sun as most of her photos were show photos under saddle, and not out in the daylight at liberty which is my preference for portraits.
I wasn’t sure at first which symbolic element would call to me, but upon searching for ideas I found a photo of an Osage headdress that carried such power that there was no question it was a part of the composition. The feathers so strongly mirrored Sun’s distinctive flying mane that I knew immediately that it was the right choice. When I shared the origins of the headdress with Tane’, she told me to my astonishment that not only was the Osage tribe from Missouri where she lives, but that she actually has Osage ancestors in her family, something she hadn’t mentioned to me until then.
Originally she had a different horse in mind for the accompanying portrait as another stallion sired by Sun, but while she was waiting for the portrait timing her plans changed when Twilight, a young colt also sired by Sun, was injured in a fatal accident. She decided to include Twilight’s memorial in his sire’s portrait.
Twilight’s presence in the portrait changed the composition I had planned in subtle but powerful ways. The sunset became a sunset turning into twilight, and the headdress became a focal point of the transition between life and spirit. Twilight in his innocence and his brief but profound effect in life, became in a way as powerful as Sun; celebrating his brief life became as important as commemorating the long and esteemed career of his sire. Now they dwell together in a timeless glimpse of ancestry, as does the native headdress hang in remembrance of Tane’s past.
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