Benevolent spirits surround us
As silent sentinels, they watch
Holding the space for our awakening
Sending a nudge when we reach a crossroads
Horses help us find the trail
The way back to our true selves
~ Kim McElroy
I remember so vividly when I saw the cloud formation that inspired this painting. In 1989 I was driving across the country with my mother Kay, on our way to a horse event to display my art. I think we were in Montana or Wyoming. I was fascinated by the open landscape. I wasn’t used to such vastness. We came gradually upon these clouds over the distant hills, and I was somehow drawn to the cloudscape. We stopped and I took some photographs, thinking perhaps I would paint it someday.
When we returned home and I got the film developed – I was again struck by the image. I couldn’t take my eyes off the clouds. After several minutes, I began so see shapes emerging and I saw the head of a horse, then another, and another. The horses revealed themselves to me.
I created the pastel painting. I took the original to the 1990 Arabian Nationals in Albuquerque, NM. People would walk by my booth admiring the horses, and the clouds would catch their eyes too. They would slow, and stop, and do a double take, and go through the same process I had – seeing the magic of the horses. It sparked such enthusiasm, surprise, and conversation. I knew I was on to something… little did I know that this series, which I called the Horses in the Elements – would become my most popular series of artwork, and touch people the world over, reminding them of the numinous spirits that surround us; of the images hidden in the fabric of nature.
As a child I loved finding the hidden images in the pictures in Highlights magazine https://www.highlightskids.com/hidden-pictures/interactive/wild-turkeys I was always looking for hidden images whether in driftwood or wood paneling, the holes on ceiling tiles and other daydreams. And I loved drawing with an Etch-A-Sketch – which I believe taught me a lot about how to draw with very little to go on. It is wonderful how these skills taught me how to see subtlety.
Are there magical experiences or fun things that you used to see or feel or hear, that you don’t pay attention to anymore? There are so many ways of seeing. Illusions surround us if we just look a little further. Horses are catalysts for awakening our awareness to these kinds of experiences.