Happy New Year! あけましておめでとうございます!
There are times when familiarity can work against us; when deep and specific knowledge of a subject can render it more difficult to delve to the core. As many of you know, I grew up on a farm. On that farm we had horses. Horses, in turn, have personalities. Very distinct and strong personalities. Even though I've forgotten many of their names I remember their characters. In my head, they're similar to the dwarves in Snow White, or Smurfs, recalled only by a group of traits. My horse was young, untrained, exuberant and uncontrollable - not a great pairing for a newbie rider, admittedly. My father's first horse was clever and spiteful - and hated my mother something fierce. My brother's pinto was calm and steady. Another was dumb as a fence post.
The point being that it's tough for me to boil down all of these unique horses into that one iconic animal The Horse.
In the end, this obsidian equine emerged; more a bold and powerful stallion than a dreamy unicorn.
2014 is the year of the wood [木/甲] horse [午], which fits nicely with the Japanese New Year's symbology of the pine. The pine [松] is long-lived, steadfast, and brings good fortune - things which I wish for all of you in the coming year. As with all of my zodiac pieces, the animal, it's spirit, and nature are one. The horse is the evergreen out of which sprouts the horse.
I was surprised to realize that this was the first time I've cut a Japanese-style pine tree. Weird, considering my penchant for twisted and curvy shapes. The billion-and-one pine needles might have had something to do with it. I'm sure it won't be my last time, though.
It would be a dreadful bit of absent-mindedness if I didn't mention that this horse features prominently on the January page of the 2014 Cut Paper Art Calendar, which is available in the shop now.