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A clarification


From time to time I get responses from readers concerned that a blog like this one encourages the practice of breeding for color. This took a particularly humorous turn a few days ago when, in response to the recent set of posts about albinism in dogs, I was taken to task for advertising my “defective” Shih Tzu stud for breeding. I am still not sure how the reader managed to overlook that not only was the dog in question not mine, but that she was a spayed female. It gave my friends and family a good laugh, but it did remind me that while this blog is three years old, and while I have been writing about horse color for longer still, it is not necessarily obvious that I am not personally involved in breeding animals. I have a great deal of respect for breeders committed to the improvement of their respective breeds, and I am particularly indebted to those who are willing to share information about their animals with those of us who simply have a passionate curiosity about animal coloration.

But just to be clear, the only animals here are family pets – which at the moment consist of the two dogs and one horse pictured above. Emma, the merle Australian Shepherd mix, and Jenny, the black and white ticked Dachshund mix, are both spayed females acquired through rescue organizations. Sprinkles, who appears from time to time on the blog, is an unregistered appaloosa pony. Because we pick the animals that share our lives almost exclusively by personality, we have had a range of colors, genders and breeds over the years. By sheer chance, all the current four-legged family members happen to be black and white and – as my husband calls them – “speckled”.

Almost two years ago, I explained my choice not to become a breeder in a post on this blog (“Of math, fashion and wiffle hounds“). It serves as a pretty good overview on my perspective, and I would recommend it anyone who wants to know where my biases are. (We all have them.) In the meantime, I did want to reassure readers that I really am not developing a strain of pink-nosed Shih Tzus in my backyard.

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Articles on pattern interaction

Previously posted on January 21, 2011 on the Blackberry Lane Studio Blog.

With the unfortunate passing of the Realistic Equine Sculpture Society, publication of the organization’s newsletter The Boat has ended. The last issue was sent to members this past week.

Like so many readers, I eagerly looked forward to each issue. Twice a year we were treated to 200+ pages of in-depth information on everything remotely related to the business of realistic equine art. I benefited immensely from what others wrote, and I was flattered to be asked to contribute articles of my own.

When my friend Sarah (the tireless Boat editor) asked if I would do a regular column, she suggested that I write something more advanced that the usual “this gene does this” type of series. I jumped at the chance to explore a topic that I had only touched on briefly in previous seminars and articles, which was how the different patterns interact with one another. It’s pretty esoteric stuff for real horse people, but for us as artists there aren’t many aspects of horse color that are more useful. We need to know which interesting aspect of a reference can be realistically combined with a different pattern, because all of us do that a lot. Can this face marking go with that blanket pattern? If I decide to use grey as a background color instead of bay, what changes about the spots on my leopard? All of these are important questions for us, and I thought it would be fun to look at them from an artist’s point of view.

I decided to start with the appaloosa patterns. I had not written extensively about them before, and there was a lot of ongoing research into them. There was a lot of potential for new discoveries. I also, as it turned out, had become the rather unexpected owner of a very loud appaloosa of my own.

Four installments of the series “Hoist the Colors” were published. A fifth is partially completed. Since the position of RESS was that the copyrights remained with the authors, I can republish the articles however I see fit. I decided to upload them to the website. The links for each one are:

Part 1 – Pattern Interaction Overview

Part 2 – Appaloosa Pattern Basics

Part 3 – Base Color Interaction

Part 4 – Appaloosa Dilution

I probably will not get to the (almost finished) fifth part until after the first volume of the Color Book is published. Right now that is tentatively scheduled to coincide with Bring Out Your Chinas Convention in May. So if the blog is quiet in the upcoming months, know that I am just working on that – and the studio backlog.

Once the first book is out, I do plan to split this blog off with a separate one devoted to horse color. I have been told that publishing tends to flush out missing information (that is, you will get a lot of corrections!), which has been part of my motivation in writing. I want to make that easier, so a blog seems logical. I just don’t want the subject of horse color, which by its very nature is likely to generate a bit more two-way conversation, to overwhelm the studio chatter here. So watch for that later this year!

In the meantime, I’ll still be posting the goings-on here at the studio. I am not sure there will be a lot of new information since I am focusing so much on the books. But little by little I am trying to wrap up stalled projects, and as those are finished I will try to post pictures at the very least.

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