Mongolia Monday: 5 Photos of Favorite Places- Baga Gazriin Chuluu Nature Reserve

This will be a occasional, on-going series of images of my favorite places in Mongolia. Baga Gazriin Chuluu means “Small Earth/Land Rocks”. There is also an Ikh Gazriin Chuluu (Great Earth Rocks), but I haven’t gotten there yet.

In July of 2009, my driver/guide and I pulled into the ger camp, which is located in the reserve and got settled in. I came out of my ger and was greeted with this amazing light and a woman riding down the valley. I had a feeling I was going to like this place.
It was my good luck to be there on the day of a local mountain blessing ceremony or local naadam. There was a horse race, wrestling, anklebone shooting and lots of people just riding around on their horses.
Seeing argali was my purpose for going there and within a couple of hours the first morning, my driver spotted this group of rams within sight of the car.
The following year, 2010, I got to go back as the first stop on a two-week camping trip. Here's the spot my driver/guide (same one as in 2009) picked.
Driving around, we came upon a short valley which had a number of cinereous vulture nests, including this one with a juvenile who was almost ready to fly. We climbed up on the rocks to get above him and I got some great photos.

There are more photos of Baga Gazriin Chuluu, including the story of my first trip there in 2009 here.

It’s Naadam Weekend In Mongolia!

This is the biggest holiday in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar pretty much shuts down for a few days while everyone celebrates and attends competitions in the Three Manly Sports: horse racing, wrestling and archery.

I got to see all of it, including a local celebration, in 2009. Here’s some photos, ending with a wonderful music video by one of the most famous singing groups in Mongolia, Nomin Talst. The group is no longer together and this video was made some years ago, but it still gets played on the music video channel around this time of year. And it’s one of the things that hooked me on Mongolia. I had to find out more about the kind of people who are shown in it and who clearly know how to have a good time today, while preserving their ancient traditions and sports.

The horsetail standards are brought out of the Parliament Building
Soldiers on matched palomino Mongol horses ready to take the standards to the Naadam Stadium; one of the Best Government Buildings Ever, which includes a big statue of Chinggis Khan
Ladies who had been in a traditional clothing fashion show watched from the sidelines
The horse tail standards are set in place for the duration of Naadam
The President of Mongolia addresses the crowd
There was a parade of famous athletes and celebrities; I was told this man is a very famous wrestler
Where else but Mongolia? In comes the Mongol Queen and her warrior entourage
A display of the national flag; on horseback, naturally
Then it out to the valley for the horse race; almost to the finish line
I was told that close to half the population of the country was in and around this valley that day; judging from the traffic we hit getting there, I can believe it
Back in UB, a mom starts her little one off right
The winner of the archery competition, a Buriat man, accompanied by his wife, both looking great!
Then it was my turn. For about a dollar, I got to shoot a real Mongol bow and arrow and got a pretty good distance
Mongol wrestling (Bokh) is pretty simple- first wrestler to have a body part touch the ground other than the feet loses- but within that simplicity are endless subtle complexities; I'm definitely a fan
Going down....

And now….Nomin Talst singing “Minii Mongol Naadam” (My Mongol Naadam):

Mongolia Monday- The Wildlife Of Mongolia Through An Artist’s Eyes: Argali

Argali ram, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, 2005

My plan was to go back to Kenya in 2005 for an Earthwatch Institute-sponsored research project “Lions of Tsavo”. But I was leafing through the new Expedition guide and a project I hadn’t seen before caught my eye, “Mongolian Argali”, whatever those were. Oh. Wild sheep. But….Mongolia. Now there was a place that seemed like it might be interesting to travel to. And who knew how long the project would last. Some went on for a decade or more. Others only for a year or two. I called the Earthwatch office, changed projects and, without realizing it at the time, changed my life.

Argali (Ovis ammon) are the world’s largest mountain sheep. A big ram can weigh close to 400 pounds. The horn curl can reach 65″. Their preferred habitat is rocky uplands, mountains and steppe valleys. They are currently listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened and Appendix II of CITES. Accurate population estimates are hard to come by. The most current one is perhaps as many as 20,000 in Mongolia. It is known that the total continues to drop in the western and central parts of the country, is stable in the south, but seems to be increasing in the east.

Group of four argali rams, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, 2005

Threats include poaching, both for subsistence meat and for the horns, which are now in demand in China for use in traditional medicine. It has also been shown that there is a nearly 100% grazing overlap between the wild argali and domestic livestock, which includes horses, sheep, goats and cattle. Predation by the herder’s domestic dogs, particularly on lambs in the spring, is also a problem. Trophy hunting is not currently a large factor, but the license fee income (18,000 USD) ends up going almost entirely to the federal government. Very little trickles down to either the local people or for conservation projects. One response at the local level has been to create reserves where hunting is not allowed.

As you can see below, there is now an Argali Conservation Management Plan. My on-going involvement with the womens’ craft collective comes under item four on the list.

To quote from the Red List entry on argali:

“Additional conservation measures are desperately required in Mongolia. Clark et al. (2006) outlined the following:

• Implement the recommendations outlined in the Argali Conservation Management Plan.
• Improve enforcement of existing legislation that would help conserve argali.
• Enhance conservation management in protected areas where argali are found at high population densities, and increase the capacity of protected areas personnel and other environmental law enforcement officers.
• Work to improve the livelihoods of local communities in areas where argali are protected by local initiatives and re-initiate community-based approaches to argali conservation (Amgalanbaatar et al. 2002a).
• Develop public education programmes to raise awareness of the status of and threats to the species.
• Continue ecological research, monitor population trends, and study the impacts of threats, including work in the Altai and Khangai Mountains to complement research occurring in the Gobi Desert.
• Implement the recommendations from the Mongolian Wildlife Trade Workshop as outlined in Wingard and Zahler (2006).

Argali ewes and lambs, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, 2005

Until a joint research effort was started by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Denver Zoological Foundation at the Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve in 2001, very little was known about argali ecology, behavior and population status. This was the research that I had signed up to help with as part of the second Earthwatch team ever to go to Mongolia.

It was April of 2005. Spring in Mongolia is a time of cold, wind and dust storms. Daytime temperatures during the team’s two week stay, living in a traditional felt ger, sometimes only reached 32F. I had the time of my life. When they found out I was an artist, one of the scientists asked if I would be willing to go out and do direct behavioral observations. And that’s what I did for the last three days, trekking out alone into the 43,000 hectare reserve with a clipboard, data forms, GPS, cameras, water bottle and snacks, trying to see the sheep before they saw me, otherwise any data I collected was invalid.

I saw this large group at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu in 2008; seventeen animals, I think, and they ran up that vertical cliff like water flowing uphill

Although a lot of the animals were in poor condition coming out of a typical Mongolian winter in which temperatures can plunge to -40F, I saw many groups that included rams, ewes and lambs, gathered some useable data and got some pretty good photographs. It was a perfect two-fer. I was able to contribute to scientific knowledge of a species and at the same time get information that would be invaluable for painting them.

A typical sighting of some ewes and older lambs at Ikh Nart, but with a cinereous vulture, the world's largest, sitting on a rock in the background; in the distance is the desert steppe

I’ve been back to Ikh Nart five times since then and argali have become a particularly favorite subject. I’ve also seen them now at two other locations: Baga Gazriin Chuluu Nature Reserve and Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve.

Driving into Ikh Nart in 2008; a grab shot from the car of four rams
Rams on rocky hillside at Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve in 2009; the key to spotting them is to look for movement and those long, thin legs, which don't seem to quite fit the landscape; this was with my 80-400 mm lens (effectively 600mm on a digital body) at maximum zoom
This group of rams, at Baga Gazriin Chuluu Nature Reserve were about 800 meters away within plain view of the road through the park; "lazy" animal watching

I thought that I would share some of the photos I’ve taken and the paintings that have come out of them. It usually takes around three, often quite a few more, reference shots since I move animals around, change backgrounds or whatever it takes to make a composition work. I’m only going to show the main animal reference that I worked from. This fieldwork is critical. When working on a painting, I’m also remembering what it was like to be at that place, how the wind felt, the utter quiet when I stopped for a break, then trudging along, looking up and seeing that the sheep had already spotted and were watching me.

For one of my first argali paintings, I wanted to show them in the fantastic landscape of Ikh Nartiin Chuluu; April 2005
Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Argali 15x30" oil
Argali ewe, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu; April 2005; I added a lamb and moved the ewe up so her head would be against the sky for maximum contrast
Argali Ewe and Lamb, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu; 12x12" oil on canvasboard
Old ram, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu; April 2005; He's probably long gone, but we spent a, for me, memorable half hour together as he let tag along behind him after checking me out; that's also him in the first photo at the top of this post
Mutual Curiosity 17x30" oil

Mongolia Monday: Boroo (Rain)

Mongolia gets very little rain and most of what does fall comes in the summer. After the brutal winter zud (a drought year followed by an extremely cold winter with heavy snowfall) that hammered the country these past months, a year of good rainfall would be a blessing, indeed.

Being a herding culture, the Mongols have always depended on rain to grow the grass they need for their animals. The rainy season is short, so I suspect that as wonderful as a Mongolian summer is, it’s also a time for some anxiety.

In 2008, rain came late, at the end of August. My husband and I were at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve. We arrived on a beautiful evening. It started to rain at around 3am and didn’t stop for 18 hours (we counted). But we had perfect weather for the rest of the trip.

In 2009, on my Artists for Conservation Flag Expedition, it was definitely the rainy season, even though there wasn’t enough to break the drought.

Here’s a few of my favorite “boroo” photos. (Note: “Boroo” is pronounced more like “baurau”, with a rolled “r”.)

Naadam opening ceremonies, July 2009; the colorful show goes on for everyone, including the Mongolian State National Grand Orchestra
Heavy rain/hail en route from Ulaanbaatar to Arburd Sands ger camp, July 2009
One of the hailstones; roof of vehicle was dented
On-coming rainstorm at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, July 2009; it rained hard for an hour and a half so I just stayed in the cozy ger; the white rectangle in the background is one of the toilet enclosures. Yes, it was a bit of a walk.

Rain has, so to speak, seeped into the culture to the point where it’s a leitmotif in many of the music videos I’ve watched and clearly has romantic connotations. Sometimes it seems like there has been an informal competition between groups and singers to see who can work the most rain into their video.

Here is one from Javhlan. Imagine this singer with an absolutely glorious voice, standing in the woods singing as the crew poured “rain” onto him. I’ll bet he only needed one take.

And, taking it even further, is A Capella’s “Boroo”. Hope it was a warm evening.

Finally, instead of a set-piece like the previous two, Guys 666, who normally seem to be hard rappers, did this video, also called “Boroo”, that tells a story, albeit not an entirely happy one.

New Painting! After the Race; Scraping Sweat

When traveling in Mongolia, one often sees the herders out taking care of their animals. Often they’re wearing western clothes, but a lot of them wear del, the traditional long garment. It’s very practical and makes them look very dashing. What isn’t quite so dashing are the ubiquitous baseball caps, however inexpensive and practical they are. So when I was at a mountain blessing ceremony at Bag Gazriin Chuluu and was walking around after the horse race, this gentleman really stood out with his red and yellow hat. I have no idea who he was, but he was scraping sweat off one of the horses with a special blunt, flat blade. I believe the sweat from a winning horse is considered to have the strength of that horse in it and so is very auspicious. The blue scarf is a khadak, which is used for offerings.

Here’s the step-by-step for “After the Race; Scraping Sweat:

Brush drawing with pencil preliminary
First pass of all-over color, plus shadow shapes; notice background goes in opposite direction of horse
Next color pass; starting to define the drapery of the del
Needed another element in background, so I added the rocks in mid-ground on the left to anchor horse and man
One of the two main pieces of reference on the iMac; I like his gesture in this one but needed another for the horse's head; there was a third reference shot for the background
All elements in place; everything is staged for the final push; spent yesterday finishing the background and making lots of tweaks and corrections to the horse; notice that the background has now been divided into two planes for more visual interest
After the Race; Scraping Sweat 22x28" oil on canvasboard

I’m Featured In Wildlife Art Journal! Plus Here’s My Latest Painting.

I’m please to announce that the Letter from Mongolia which I recently wrote for Wildlife Art Journal was posted on their website this morning! It’s illustrated with lots of paintings, drawings and photos, many from my Artists for Conservation Flag Expedition last July. Thank you to Todd Wilkinson and the rest of the staff for providing the only publication (it’s online only, no print version) dedicated to wildlife art!

And yesterday I finished the warthog painting. Here’s the  step-by-step from last week. I’m calling it “Gonna Run In 3…2…1”

Gonna Run In 3...2...1 20x30" oil on canvasboard

Mongolia Monday- Choidog, Legendary Mongol Horse Trainer, Has Passed Away

Choidog and Black 18x24" oil on canvasboard

I’m going to have to once again interrupt my current series to share some news and the accompanying memories-

I got word last week that Choidog, the subject of my painting “Choidog and Black”, which is currently in a national invitational American Academy of Equine Art show in Lexington, Kentucky, passed away in late March. He was about 80 years old and was healthy until the very end. Choidog was one of the legends of Mongolian horse training, having won the national Naadam race three times.

I first encountered him on a fall 2008 trip to Mongolia when my husband and I stayed at Arburd Sands ger camp, which is operated by one of his sons and daughters-in-law. We were invited to his ger by them for the family’s annual foal branding. It was a magical afternoon, which you can read about here. He was every inch the proud Mongol horseman and we knew that we were in the presence of someone special.

At the ger camp, there was a book, “Horse People”, by Mattias Klum. One chapter was about Choidog and his family. I glanced through it, only casually interested, since my focus at the time was almost exclusively on wildlife.

Last July, on my Artists for Conservation Flag Expedition, I had the opportunity to see him again, as his ger happened to be only a kilometer or so from Arburd Sands ger camp, where I was staying for one night on the way to a nature reserve. He didn’t have much to say to me and directed almost all his conversation to my male guide, but that was fine because it let me just sit and quietly watch him as he lay at ease on the bed opposite.

This time, I searched out the “Horse People” book at the ger camp and read, really read, the chapter about Choidog.

Later in the trip, I was visiting a young horse trainer and his wife at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve. Once again I was in a ger sitting on the floor drinking suutei tsai (milk tea) while a conversation went on around me since I don’t speak much Mongolian yet. I noticed a magazine tucked up between the roof felt and a support pole. There was a photo of a man on the cover and it looked like, even from across the ger, Choidog. I finally had the Mongol scientist I was with ask about it. The young man took it down and handed it to me saying “You have sharp eyes”. It was a much younger Choidog and the magazine, which was for and about Mongol horse trainers, had a feature article on him with photos from the Naadam races he had won in the 1960s.

When I got home, I found a copy of “Horse People” on Alibris. One passage that struck me was Choidog saying that “In Communist times each family could only own 75 horses. The rest went to the state. Now we can own herds of 300-400, if we can manage it. There’s no limit. In communist times it was strange for someone to have his own herd.” This was in about 2002.

I was told, at the time we were there in 2008, that he had between three and four hundred horses. When I mentioned this to the young horse trainer at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, his eyes got rather wide and he remarked that that was a lot of horses.

The chapter ends with this passage: “He can mount his ‘favorite black’ stallion and thunder off into the unending pastures, just to feed his heart. “To run on horseback in the morning is high exhilaration.” he says, eyes shining. “It is to feel alive, completely awake.” ”

I hope your heart is well-fed, Choidog. Bayartai.

Mongolia Monday- Favorite Ger Photos

Two of the things I like best about traveling to Mongolia are staying in a ger and visiting people in their gers (“ger” means “home” in Mongolian).

Actress Julia Roberts was hosted by a family of horse trainers during the filming of an episode of the PBS series “Nature” called “The Wild Horses of Mongolia” (which isn’t what it was about, although there was a little takhi footage from Hustai National Park included). At the end, she’s sitting in a ger filled with Mongolians, looking into the camera with this big grin, saying something to the effect of “I’m sitting here in this ger and I don’t understand a word of what these people are saying, but I’m as happy and content as I’ve ever been in my life.”

Yup, she nailed it. I feel the same way. There’s something about the quality of space created by a ger that is very special. I’ve been in clean ones, dirty ones, sat on stools, beds and the floor, seen beautifully furnished ones and ones with next to nothing in them and I get the same content feeling in all of them. Hand me a bowl of suutei tsai (milk tea) or airag (fermented mare’s milk) and some aruul (dried yogurt) or tsotsgii (cream) and I’m a happy camper (and a cheap date too, I guess, although my husband would probably beg to differ). Anyway, here are some of my favorite images of gers from my four trips to Mongolia.

First, ger camps:

My ger at Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve (AFC Flag Expedition), July 2009
Dungenee Ger Camp (Nomadic Journeys), Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Sept. 2006
Dungenee ger interior; notice large rock to help hold it down in high winds, Sept. 2006
Dinosaur Ger Camp, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, May 2005 (haven't stayed here; yet)
Arburd Sands Ger Camp (Nomadic Journeys) with lightening storm, July 2009
Red Rocks Ger Camp (Nomadic Journeys) with oncoming storm, July 2009; two hours of heavy rain soon followed
Dining ger door, Red Rocks Ger Camp, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Sept. 2008

In 2005, I got to visit a ger factory and see how they are made:

Ger factory, Ulaanbaatar, May 2005

Then we went to the Black Market where you can buy anything ger; from individual parts to the whole thing.

Everything ger at the Black (or Narantuul) Market

The research camp at Khomiin Tal (takhi reintroduction site) in western Mongolia is spectacularly sited in a river valley:

The research camp at Khomiin Tal, western Mongolia, Sept. 2006
Ger interior with goat meat, Khomiin Tal, western Mongolia, Sept. 2006

My first experience of staying in a ger was during my first trip to Mongolia on an Earthwatch project “Mongolian Argali” (now called “Wildlife of the Mongolian Steppe”; highly recommended) in the spring of 2005. The camp is much bigger now; seven gers, two containers and a volleyball court:

The research camp at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Earthwatch project, April 2005
Typical spring dust storm, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve research camp, April 2005; photo taken out the door of the ger; circles are the flash bouncing off dust particles; the wind was howling, too

And, private homes:

Small ger with aruul drying on the roof; en route from Baga Gazriin Chuluu Nature Reserve to Ulaanbaatar, July 2009; my guide helped me buy some aruul from the family
Prosperous establishment in the Gobi, Sept. 2006; they breed racing camels
Dung fuel with traditional gathering basket, western Mongolia, Sept. 2006; the owner manages a nearby salt deposit
Ger in western Mongolia, Sept. 2006; we bought fresh cow's milk from her
Gers above the Tuul River, near Hustai National Park, Sept. 2006; they have great view!
Ger visit, near Hustai National Park, May 2005; my first encounter with Mongolian hospitality, but not the last!

Mongolia Monday- New Painting Debut!

Last week was pretty intense. I had a painting to finish for submission to an invitational show (which it may or may not be accepted into; we’ll see). It’s by far the most complex and difficult one I’ve taken on so far. The kind where, once you’re well into it and can see what level of effort it’s going to take to pull it off, you wonder if you’re out of your mind. But I felt really driven to paint it, so off I went. I think it took somewhere between 60 and 80 hours, spread over about three weeks, but I wasn’t really counting. I didn’t have time.

I normally post about my painting activities on Fridays, but when you see the reference image that inspired me, I think you’ll agree that it’s right for Mongolia Monday.

I photograph the process when I do “major” paintings, both to have a record and to be able to refer back to previous points while it’s in progress. I thought you might enjoy following how this one developed.

So, to start, here’s the image that said “PAINT ME!” It was taken at a local Nadaam in the town of Erdene, which is about an hour east of Ulaanbaatar, in July of 2009. It was pouring rain when we arrived, just in time to see the finish of the horse race. Fortunately, it stopped and, although it was cloudy and muddy, we had a great time and I got at least three or four more painting ideas from the afternoon.

I loved everything about this image: The two horses neck and neck. The fact that one boy is using a traditional Mongol wood saddle and the other is riding bareback in stocking feet and how different it makes their body positions as they ride flat out for the finish line. The way the orange and yellow is repeated in their clothes and the saddle.

The only thing missing was great light. Hum, what to do? I decided that rather than trying to change the light, since July is the rainy season (or at least it’s supposed to be) in Mongolia, which means that at least some of these races happen in wet conditions, I’d just go with it and make the fact that it was a rainy day part of the story.

The  background didn’t do anything for me and since most of the people who will view the final painting won’t be familiar with the setting or situation, I needed to add some context. The first step was to do a pencil drawing that included all the elements to make sure everything would go together even though I used at least six different photos for the final composition.

The drawing is done on 19×24″ tracing paper. The finished painting is 28×36″. The grid lines are a traditional (dated back to the Renaissance) method of transferring a drawing to the larger surface. Notice how many spectators there are and where the buildings are. I had already decided to leave out a line of cars that were behind the people.

I have also decided to paint these scenes as I see them. I’m not going to “romanticize” them by substituting traditional hats for the baseball caps or putting the kids in del. While I’m very interested in Mongolian history and might do paintings with historical themes, with historic costumes and armor, if I can get the reference, for the most part I’m interested in Mongolia as it really is right now, in the 21st century.

Once the drawing is transferred to the canvas with a pencil, I re-draw it with a brush, always correcting and refining as I go.

In this case, I decided to start by laying in the background first. I wanted to establish the lightest lights and also the atmospheric perspective of the mountains in the distance. You will also notice that I’ve ditched all the people on the right and cut down the number of people on the left. The buildings are gone, too. I really felt that I needed to simplify things. One of the lessons I’m learning is how what works at one size may not work at a much larger size. It’s what stalled me on the big argali painting.

Next, I laid in the first layer of color on the figures, going dark so I could come back in with lighter colors. Everything is in what is called “local color”-the “real” color of an object not affected by a light source. Notice the drawing is pretty much gone, but that’s ok because, I know I can get it back as I go.

Now, I’m past the opening stages. The set-up is done and the constant process of painting, correcting and refining has begun. I’ve laid in the folds on the boy’s clothes and gotten the basic modeling done of the muscles and structure of the horses. Where before, the background had seemed too crowded, now it seems too empty and the people are just standing there, isolated, with no context.

Here you can see how I work. The computer is a 24″ iMac with a glossy monitor, so it’s like painting from very large transparencies. I can easily toggle back and forth between the various images that I’m using. You can see that I’ve added the buildings back in, but now they are behind the spectators, which creates one visual unit instead of two scattered ones. And now there are gers in the background. I’m thinking at this point about the white of the boy’s hats being repeated in the hats of two of the spectators, then repeated again with the gers. So it’s kind of like a bar of music with the white elements as the “notes”.

Here’s a detail of the people and buildings in progress. The good people of Erdene would probably be really confused if they saw this because I’ve used my “artistic license” to move and rearrange the structures to suit me. But I’d like to think that they’d recognize their friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, the pattern on the one woman’s blue del ended up being too visually distracting, so I had to make it just a plain blue. All the colors are intended to relate to each other in a somewhat limited palette and not compete with the jockeys. Oh, and that’s the Mongolian flag at the top of the blue building. Couldn’t leave that out. Notice also that I’ve added the road that runs through the town.  It’s on a diagonal, which is more dynamic than a horizontal. I want it to support and emphasize the main action. That’s also why the lines of dirt at the horses feet are on the diagonal, as you can see in the image above.

Here’s a detail of the jockey’s faces in progress, along with the horse’s heads. They all went through three or four repaints before I got them the way I wanted them. Notice that I haven’t painted any of the tack yet, other than the orange saddle. That’s the final level of detail that I leave for the final orchestration. Also, the paint has to be dry so that if I make a mistake on a stroke I can pull it off without wrecking what I’ve done underneath.

At one point, I stopped, got a piece of paper and a charcoal pencil and did a couple of studies of the boys and the bridle of the horse on the right to make sure that I understood the shapes correctly and could paint only the ones I needed.

I highly recommend this. Instead of flailing around in paint, hoping to somehow get it right, do a quick drawing to work out the problem. It saves a lot of time, paint and frustration.

One thing I noticed almost at the end was that, as a design decision, I had the right-hand horse’s tail flowing off the canvas. When I was looking at another image for another reason, it hit me and I remembered that the race horse’s tails are bound part-way down. What an awful mistake that would have been. Quick scrap down and repaint.

And here is the finished painting: Rainy Day Finish; Erdene Nadaam, 2009