Ducky’s Paddock

Duckys Paddock

“Ducky’s Paddock” by Dave Arruda

Acrylic on Canvas (14 x 11)

A gift to my sister, Catherine, on her 20th birthday.

My sister recently celebrated her 20th birthday and I was looking to give her something special. I’m not one to run down to the store at the last minute to grab a gift card or something meaningless just to feel good about giving something. So that option was out. Horses are what she lives for (she’s been riding for about as long as I’ve been kayaking) but she must have everything “horse” that you could think of under the sun! So I wasn’t about to make much progress on that front. That’s when I decided that I’d take an adventure with my new-found photography and painting skills to try to come up with that special something.

The adventure started with a trip down to the horse farm to pay a visit to my sister’s horse. Ducky is a 13-year-old, chestnut-colored, Arabian princess who became a prominent member of the family back when I went off to college in 2004. This all requires some explanation:

  • My parents never allowed us to have a dog (or any fury pets) when we were growing up so you can imagine how stupefied I was when she called me at school to announce the arrival of a horse to our clan!
  • Why is her name Ducky? Well, apparently when she was a pony her previous owner found her standing with all four feet together in her water bucket!
  • How do we know she’s a princess? Well, because 1) she told us so (she had an appointment with a horse whisperer at one point…I know it sounds crazy but that lady told us some highly believable stuff) and 2) she sure acts like one.

Anyway, when I walked up to Ducky to try to get a picture of her she played her usual game of sniffing around for her treat and then bee-lining for the opposite end of the paddock to continue her job as an organic lawn mower (hay-burner as my dad calls her). This was just want I wanted! The lighting and background were perfect so I snapped the picture and headed home to paint.

Ducky’s Field is acrylic on canvas and represents my first landscape to incorporate an animal. I’m proud of this work for many reasons. First, I was able to incorporate many of the lessons that I’ve learned from my on-going art class. The sky is light and true, the hills fade in the distance, and Ducky appears more real than I thought was possible. Second, is that it shows that I’m finally getting a sense for color which I have to admit is far less intuitive than you’d imagine. It’s amazing how the touch of yellow in the trees and the pink hue on Ducky’s back really bring these features of the painting to life and add depth. As much as the artistic progress makes me proud I really found greatest joy in creating something unique for my sister! I left her with this message on the back: “To my sister on her 20th birthday. ‘No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle’ – Churchill.”

Happy Birthday, Catherine!

-Kayak Dave

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