Why teach Jazz to paint?

When we lost Metro last March, I was devastated. Not only had I lost a pet, I had lost a buddy and an art partner. I am in my 50's and have had to say goodbye to my share of pets before, but Metro was different. He had become part of my identity.

He was an extrovert, he was the life of the party, he loved to be around people, he loved being the center of attention. He was everything that I wasn't, and when I was with him I felt like a whole person. His huge personality made up for my social inadequacies. He was my alter-ego. I was Clark Kent, he was Superman.

When I lost my Superman, it took me some time to adjust to just being a mild mannered reporter again. I was torn between keeping his memory alive, and going through the pain of remembering him. I rarely talked about Metro, not even to Wendy. It was just too painful.

When we moved to Las Vegas, we vowed to never own a horse again. We never wanted to say goodbye to another one. After a couple of months, Wendy got the urge to pick up riding again. She took lessons on lesson horses just to be around them. But she soon grew tired of riding horses that were sour from having little kids kick them in their sides all day. So she leased a horse named Max. She would have Max for 4 days a week. But we soon found out that Max was in a situation with his owner that wasn't good for him. His owner was 350lbs, and too big to be riding him. Max was developing back problems and she wanted to save him.

Wendy offered to buy Max, but the owner refused. But she started thinking about owning again. Wendy began searching for a horse to buy. I was luke warm to the idea of owning another horse but would support Wendy in whatever made her happy. My only requirement was that she get the horse vet checked and he had a clean bill of health. As much as we loved Metro, we didn't want to go through all the health problems again.

Wendy's search took her to Phoenix where she met Jasmine. Jazz had a vet check and was declared healthy. The only problem the vet found was that Jazz was spooky and needed a lot of "Exposure" training. Wendy was a horse owner again.

I knew that the groundwork and desensitizing would fall on my shoulders. I haven't ridden a horse in years, but I am pretty good at training them on the ground. I figured that at most, I would work with Wendy's new horse for a couple of weeks, teach Jazz to be a safe horse, and then turn the horse ownership back over to Wendy so she can continue with her riding hobby.

But as I began working with Jazz on the ground, I found that the giant hole in my heart that was left by the loss of Metro was beginning to heal. I remembered how much a horse can heal what is missing in my life. Even if what was missing was the loss of the greatest horse in the world.

Even though Jazz was Wendy's horse, I was beginning to take ownership too. Then I began to look at Jazz a little differently. I started to think "what if?" Could I do it again? I began to remember how much I missed painting with Metro. I started carrying a paintbrush to the barn again.

I paint pet portraits for a living. I love it. But it can be confining as far as creativity is concerned. When people commission me to paint their pet, they don't want to hear me say "What if we made it look like if Picasso painted your pet?" They want the painting to have both of Fluffy's eyes on the same side of her head. The composition and background colors are decided before hand. I am just recreating an image. There isn't a lot of room to just "let loose."

But when I was creating with Metro, we were always being "Creative." We were constantly trying different things. "What if we tried these colors together?" "What if I trimmed Metro's brushes into different shapes?" "What if I handed him the brush in a different way, to create a different stroke?" Every day was new and creative. I felt like an "artist" when I was with Metro. I was missing the freedom of just clearing your mind and letting the paint do the talking.

I wanted to feel that again.

Jazz will never be Metro, I know that. I may never feel the connection I had with Metro, of working furiously, handing brushes back and forth and not saying a word. Of losing track of time, so that you don't know if you've been painting for 5 hours or 5 minutes. Metro knew what I was thinking and what I was going to do. And I knew what he was thinking. We were in a zone, and worked as one mind and one body. 

But maybe with Jazz, I can feel something close to that connection again, or something completely different that is totally new and exciting. Who knows? What I do know is that I am going to find out.


  • Sheila H

    Metro’s heart would be so happy! I own one of his paintings and hope Jazz enjoys painting with you. You have a wonderful gift and she’s lucky to have you and Wendy taking such good care of her. Wishing you both the very best.

  • Sheila H

    Metro’s heart would be so happy! I own one of his paintings and hope Jazz enjoys painting with you. You have a wonderful gift and she’s lucky to have you and Wendy taking such good care of her. Wishing you both the very best.

  • Katherine Richmond

    How wonderful you have a horse again! You provide such great care for horses. All the best with your new adventures with Jazz!

  • Pamela Monachello

    So glad you are working with Jazz. I’m just discovering and catching up with your story. Be blessed!

  • Carolyn

    Today I saw the video about you and Metro. When you said other artists claim they have the hand of God directing them and Metro was just a horse I thought those people are close-minded and idiots—Metro is just as connected (maybe more so). So is every other animal. We are not the only creatives on this planet and you and Metro help to prove it. I’m sad that you lost Metro, but so glad you adopted Jazz and are teaching Jazz to paint. Thank you for sharing so much, your love of painting with Metro and Jazz, your love of Metro and Jazz, and your love of painting.

Leave a comment