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The landscape still looked drab as spring tried to charge through winter’s long occupation. The Dells were visiting for a few days. Natalia basked in the camp rocker and Rachelle read. Chas and Nate were fishing and having no success with the powerful strong flow of the Piedra River. I found a spot along the eroded shoreline and let my feet dangle off the small cliff. I was skeptically of this unassuming spot – the water a muddy green with little sign of new spring life.

But then the richness of the micro landscape at my feet began to sweep me away with each observation of color, contrast, shadow and movement. My skepticism melted away in a torrent of transcending. How would I capture it all? I hoped that everyone wouldn’t want to leave too soon.

“Rocks on the Shore in Spring” – A watercolor study

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Carrying the huge white plastic laundry basket up from the laundry room at the main house along the horse pasture fence I caught sigh of Denali grazing the plentiful late spring grass. Captivated, I set my basket down on the driveway, ignoring the internal thoughts of chores and the mundane. I climbed through the fence, grabbed a generous handful of mane and swung on bareback. Denali settled back into eating peacefully, but another villain had hitched a ride into this sanctuary: my cell phone. I soon found myself hands free of my little mustang answering texts.

All at once Denali caught sight of the gaudy unnaturally white laundry basket behind her. With springtime and mustang reflex she half reared and bolted, somersaulting me off her right hindquarter.

Humiliated but not hurt I rubbed my side as she casually wandered back to let me get on again. I swung back on but this time I remained fully present, taking everything in.

That evening with the vision of her rearing, twisting and bolting still burned into my mind as I somersaulted off of her I painted “Ambush.”

The lines I painted are similar to a charcoal sketch. It took several attempts to develop the image since watercolors can’t be erased. The colors and lines are very primitive. Looking back perhaps it is a tribute to all the instinctual powers of survival horses possess.

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Dragons in the Garden

Dear Lydia Hope,

I bought reduced priced flowers at the grocery store for only $1.00 a bunch. I can’t wait for spring and summer when I can pick wildflowers here at the house and paint on the porch. But it was a cozy night painting with the woodstove and vase of flowers on the table – just like when you were here. I picked a lily to paint and started with the detailed pattern of markings on the inside and flushed out the petal shapes by adding water and just a little paint.

I was surprised how the flower turned out. It looked more like a reptile than a flower. It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized Chas was watching the animated series “Dragons: Race to the Edge” based off of the movie “How to Train Your Dragon” while I was painting. To be honest I think I need to change the name from “Herald” which I came up with looking at the flower and not the painting because the lily reminded me of a trumpet. I think I will rename it “Dragon in the Garden”.

Now I it feels less disjointed when I relate to this piece and I like the tension.

Love, Rachel

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“It’s going to be okay, Avalanche.”


I haven’t worked for this outfit long enough to know all the horse he was.

But he had a kind eye and

a memorable snowy white coat.

He was a horse any cowboy would respect

whether it came to roping, packing horns

or packing around grandkids

Someone must have started him right.


“You’re a good horse, Avalanche.”

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Their Gold


Only small pockets of aspens hold out with their gold.

But my heart surrenders to fall with the warmth of the wood burning stove.

I paint

Remembering the colors of fall when grief blinded me.

I paint

To take in what I missed.

I paint their gold.

“Their Gold” and “Hold Out”


Plein Air Painting on Mill Creek Road

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A Dog Named Liberty,

is the reminder of what’s important.  (Plein Air Watercolor Sketch: Liberty)

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  Galatians 5:1″

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin

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The Last of the Asters

The last of the asters bloom

All but spent.

It’s been happening too fast


The oaks were brilliant

As they surrendered to fall

But I can hardly remember.

The aspens were brilliant

But I wasn’t ready to see them turn.

I try to take in the waning warmth

Left in fall


Snow dusted peaks warn.

But the present is lost


Our Goodbye.

RBrashears 2016

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Denali in the Storm

With adaptive grace, plenty of hay and a thick mustang coat, she wintered well.

She didn’t fuss.

She did, however, station herself, on a hill, thick oak brush guarding her rear. I’d follow her gaze over a couple of miles, over the neighbor’s hay meadow and up and over a steep hill, where a small band of Clydesdales wintered.

Whenever a storm threatened, she’d head to middle of the pasture and lower her head with a clump of bushes blocking the prevailing wind and snow, despite having a perfectly good run in shed.


Winter limited our rides to riding bareback around the property. The only way to get on in the deep snow with bulk winter clothes: a graceless heave and belly flop.

RBrashears 2016