Buying birthday presents is always difficult, and Beijing set the bar high by giving Canberra a garden for its 100th birthday. And the garden has sculptures in it, and they are not of pink flamingoes or lawn jockeys. This is a copy of a 2,000 year old bronze of a galloping horse from the Eastern Han Dynasty. Obviously a sculptor in ancient China loved horses, had an eye for capturing movement, and what Robert Hughes might have called ‘a whiplash sense of line’.
To symbolise its speed, the horse is standing on a flying swallow. I once accidentally ran over a crow in my wheezy Ford Falcon (which did not look or move like an avian predator in the least). The result was much less elegant and left me grief and guilt stricken for weeks.
I painted the horse in a hurry and didn’t bother erasing the false starts and other draft details. Best to keep things spontaneous. I may paint in a background, but I fear it will compromise the picture’s freshness. We’ll see.