National Model Painting Month (Jennifer Buxton's NaMoPaiMo) goes like this. During February, the shortest month of the year, you paint a model horse, of any scale, from start to finish. You cannot start painting before 12:01 AM in your time zone on February 1. The goal is to have the model completed before 11:59:59 PM on February 28.
NaMoPaiMo happens on Facebook. It is not a contest. Nothing bad happens if you do not complete your horse. But it is a commitment. You must commit to a model and a color. And you must do that in advance. You don't get to keep changing your mind. You commit. And that is that.
There are random prizes. They are generally very nice. But that is not why people from around the world participate. People participate for the fun, the challenge, the motivation, the sense of community. People participate because they have never tried to paint a horse before. People participate because they are well known artists and their work will get a ton of exposure. People participate because it is an unparalleled chance to be a part of an equine art community and to learn from experts and peers in the field in a friendly atmosphere.
And then there is Minis Painting Minis, its own institution within NaMoPaiMo.
Grace chose to paint an arab mare in foal that had been languishing on a shelf for many years. She ended up needing a lot more work than Grace anticipated, and there was some concern that she might not get her done in time. And then there was Skye's horse, the little draft foal. For both of the girls it was a first time experience. Skye's youthful enthusiasm drove her to finish her foal well before the end of the month.
Grace had some unexpected motivation...a buyer. Her NaMoPaiMo horse - and her first ever artistic creation - sold before she had it completed.
There is another common phenomenon that happens when thousands of people try to engage in an art project in the dead of winter, and that is things that don't go to plan. We would fall into that category in 2021. The idea is that February is typically a quiet month, but for us it would be a month of life-changing family medical issues. NaMoPaiMo became a hallmark of personal triumph over circumstances...or at least that was the intention. For the owner of Redbird Ranch, that meant completing a hair by hair roan traditional scale resin. At one point, in the middle of the night, huddled in the garage on an old couch with three dogs, instead of doing the tick-tick-tick pencil strokes of a hair by hair pattern, said certain owner, in a semi-conscious state, wrote "CRAZY" on the side of the horse. And so was the horse named.
Grace and Skye would finish their horses on time and in fine style. NaMoPaiMo unleashed their inner artists, and we all look forward to doing it again in 2022.