Thursday, December 12, 2019

Art From the Heart: An Interview with Artist Diana Manitu

Art From the Heart: An Interview with Artist Diana Manitu
with Gina McKnight

From USA, meet artist Diana Manitu! The proprietor of Art From the Heart, Diana offers eclectic art. Whether it’s creating through henna paste, charcoal, and/or chalk pastels, Diana is a “person who wants to sprinkle little parts of her soul throughout the world around her and hopefully positively impact those whom her art reaches.”

Welcome, Diana!

GM: When did you realize you wanted to become an artist?
DM: I never really "realized" I wanted to be an artist. I was more-so influenced in wanting to do art of some sort by art history and architecture in our everyday lives. Art has a way of simplifying things, and so when I would see that some complicated subject or very involved matter could be easily drawn out or explained via a singular image, it was essential for me to be able to impact others in the same manner. Art gives me that option. I was also largely influenced by my Pawpaw, Boyd Hiser, and his work as a realist and folk artist.

GM: Do you remember the first piece of art you created?
DM: My work is greatly influenced by Eastern cultures (particularly Eastern Indian). Henna and the designs associated with that practice is what first "drew" me in toward that specific style of art. The first quality piece of art I made was for a friend that wanted a psychedelic piece with lots of recurring designs and patterns. When I started on it, I thought, this is gonna be crap. Why would he ask a novice artist like me? However, as the image began to develop as I worked on it, I started to believe in myself a little more. Apparently, it was a success, because he still has it hanging in his home. That is one (of many) important things that art has taught me, that there will never be a time you are ready for people to see what you create, there is no comfort zone that you reach before you are able to present your work - and that's a good thing, it ensures you to learn acceptance of and with yourself, and that applies to so many other areas of your life!

GM: What mediums do you like to use?
DM: My preferred mediums are pencil, henna paste, charcoal, and/or chalk pastels. I use paints as well, but feel most comfortable and adept at those particular mediums. When I want to push boundaries with myself, or I feel like I need to decompress and get out of my own skin, I will use mediums that make me a little uncomfortable and doubt myself. It is a way of accepting the way I feel about things, purging them, and maybe the art I am creating in the process will actually turn out decent! Haha!

GM: What are you currently working on?
DM: I am currently working on Christmas presents! Haha! Starving artist is a real thing, and so everyone is getting some sort of small art piece instead of a bought gift. I am the oldest of 8 kids, and each one of us has a very unique personality. I plan on doing a collection of silhouettes - one from each person, and at all different angles - and then adding a mane of the different things that embody their personality. I love working with silhouettes because of the generality it gives an image, but then adding extremely personal notes, to create a piece that could be androgynous, but you know it isn't, because only those particular traits are associated with only THAT person. Aside from that, I am working on base line sketch ideas for an Alice in Wonderland tarot deck I want to eventually develop fully and have printed.

GM: Describe your studio and where you like to work...
DM: My workspace is more of a drafting table in the corner of a room than it is an actual studio. Even then, I won't always complete a piece at my art desk. My studio is anywhere I feel like being. When I sketch, it's normally on the floor or ground; when painting, I sit outside; when working on a piece to sell or that is a present, I complete it at my desk. My corner is a creative little space. It has my art desk and supplies, a red leather swivel chair (that doesn't go well with the desk at all, but I love it because it is unique), and vintage style anti-war propaganda (which I collect). I have a special piece my Pawpaw did in his younger years adorning the other wall next to my desk (as he was an artist and a big inspiration of mine), as well as a stereo system and incense burners to help me relax, jam out, and get in the flow.

GM: What drives your inspiration and motivation to be creative?
DM: Everything inspires me! My happiness, the world's goings-ons, trauma, time, peace, everything inspires and motivates me. The biggest motivation for me to create is the understanding it helps me achieve within myself. I feel healed when I am working on a piece and that gets addictive.

GM: Do you have advice for novice artists?
DM: The only advice I would give novice artists are certain things I wish I could have someone say to me, haha! They are to never stop working on a doodle or sketch or art piece because you feel like it could be better and you start doubting yourself. It goes back to that comfort zone point said earlier - there will never be a time you get "good enough" to feel completely content with putting your work out there. But it is imperative that you do continue to work on it and you do not stop because what YOU have to offer the world is unique to the person that you are and you have every bit as much right to put your work out there as anyone with a degree in art or anything of that sort. Creativity isn't measured by any social construct - creativity just IS.

GM: Do you have a favorite piece of art of your own creation?
DM: I do not have a favorite piece of my own. I have a difficult time genuinely loving the work I do personally, and so that makes it difficult to pinpoint which piece I like the most. Additionally, I feel like my art is always changing, my ability is always growing, and therefore it makes older pieces of my work seem less special to me. (Art is a way to process my dislike for a lot of different aspects of myself.)

GM: Who is your muse or favorite artist?
DM: I do not have a specific muse. If I had to choose my favorite artist, it would be Salvador Dali. His perception of the world is palpable through every single one of his works, his is unashamed and forward-thinking, and his execution is clean, precise, detailed, and unbiased to any particular color scheme, theme, or subject matter. You can see him oozing from the paint in his art works, and those are traits that I really vibe well with.

GM: Are you available for illustration or work for hire collaborations?
DM: YES! I am available for illustrations and work for hire collabs!

GM: List 10 things that your fans may not know about you...
1. I have 7 younger siblings!
2. I have a Halflinger horse named Avalon.
3. I have a fascination with mushrooms and snails.
4. I do not throw away receipts from doing activities with the people I love.
5. Purple is my favorite color.
6. I first got interested in henna tattoos through belly dancing.
7. Autumn is my favorite season, because of the contrast between the gray trees, dying grass, and very colorful leaves.
8. I am terrified of caterpillars.
9. I love to write slam poetry.
10. I am a cheese connoisseur, and LOVE to cook.

Connect with Diana…

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Monday, December 9, 2019

Milliron Monday: Emmett E. Stansbury. D.V.M.

Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 

In the main hallway of the (former) Milliron Clinic hangs an old portrait of a young man. After passing the portrait many times, I inquired about the portrait's origin. I can't find out why Dr. Smith hung the portrait in the hallway or where the portrait came from (as of yet). I do know that the image is of Emmett E. Stansbury, D.V.M., a prominent veterinarian from Middleport, Meigs County, Ohio. 

Checking online ancestry records, I found that Dr. Stansbury was the son of Israel Stansbury. The record states, "Emmett E. Stansbury was raised by his older sister Sara. He was a veterinarian in Middleport, Ohio. His house is still in town on 3rd Street." It doesn't say anything about Emmett's mother; however, he did have another sister, Emma. 

If you were a Milliron Clinic client, you've probably have seen the portrait, too, and wondered about it's origin. I have asked several people in Middleport for more information. If you know anything, please leave a comment below.

Dr. Stansbury's headstone in Gravel Hill Cemetery, Gallia County, Ohio.
Photo courtesy Willi Anderson.

Have a great week ahead.

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Pain-Free Horse Riding: An Interview with Nikki Robinson

Pain-Free Horse Riding: An Interview with Nikki Robinson
By Gina McKnight
No duplication without permission.
Archived from the November 2019 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete

Nikki Robinson, Expert Myofascial Release Physiotherapist, is top in her class. From the UK, Nikki is a graduate of Queen Elizabeth School of Physiotherapy. Studying in the USA, she is the founder of Holisticare where she is the managing director. Nikki is the author of Pain-Free Horse Riding: An Illustrated Guide to Prevention, Self-Care, and Injury Management for Riders of All Abilities (Lotus Publishing, 2018). Her book is recommended reading, outlining the importance of strength and flexibility to improve riding, which is a subject for every equestrian to consider – no matter where you are in your journey with horses.

"Nikki's treatment has really changed my life. The advice that she gives in this book will help you to work with your body and to enjoy riding your horse without pain," Sarah, Duchess of York.

Welcome, Nikki!

GM: Good afternoon, Nikki! I am intrigued by your book and your expertise in helping equestrians to gain or improve strength and flexibility. When was your first encounter with a horse and what is your horse history?
NR: I first started riding lessons when I was about twelve years old. Looking back, I don’t think that I was actually taught very much! I just remember going round the school with lots of other kids and the instructor standing in the middle shouting at us.

After I left home to study, I didn’t really encounter horses for many years until … fast forward to seven years ago, when my daughter started riding lessons. Taking her every week and watching her progress, started to remind me of what I had been missing, so I began to have lessons too.

My daughter then embarked on a two-year campaign of asking for her own horse several hundred times a day, and eventually it worked! I realised that actually I would love to own a horse too and so we agreed that we would look for a horse that we could share. That was in December 2016 and now I can’t imagine being without a horse in my life.

GM: An amazing equestrian journey! How fun to share this journey with your daughter. Your book embraces all riding disciplines and riders. What will equestrians derive from your book and why is your book important to every equestrian’s library?
NR: I wrote this book because I have met and treated so many horse riders who are living with pain. Typically, they spend a lot of time and money treating their horse’s pain and conformation, but ignore their own symptoms.

You and your horse are both made up of cells that are all connected by a continuous network of fibres. So every part of your body is connected to every other part and can be affected by physical or emotional trauma. Throughout your life, when you have falls, injuries, operations, stress, etc, the resulting scar tissue and restrictions are recorded in your body. These restrictions can cause pressure on nerve endings and joints, resulting in pain and inflammation.

When you sit on your horse, your fascial network and your horse’s have to compensate for each other. So for example, if you have scar tissue in one area, it has the potential to affect every other part of your body. As your horse then has to compensate for the restrictions in your body as well as its own, it becomes much more prone to injury, pain and stiffness. My book explains this in more detail, using bespoke illustrations and photos.

I have been a Physical Therapist for 26 years, and for the past 13 years I have specialised in a technique called Myofascial Release, which was developed by an American Physical Therapist called John Barnes. I have trained with him in the US and he wrote the foreword for my book. This treatment is different from many other therapies, as it works with your body to find and treat the cause of your symptoms. So although it is very gentle and doesn’t force anything, it is possible to change even long-term conditions with this approach.

I use the principles of John Barnes Myofascial Release in my book to demonstrate how you can help yourself to reduce your pain and restrictions. It covers common symptoms that riders have, some riding problems, taking care of your horse and simple steps that you can take in your everyday life to stay comfortable.

This book is important for all equestrians to own, as understanding this approach can help to prevent or reduce rider pain. This will then help your horse to stay happy and healthy.

GM: You have an endorsement from Sarah, Duchess of York, and other notable riders - Your expertise is well-known and admirable. Describe a day in your life with horses...
NR: Unfortunately, we don’t have space to keep our horse at home, so she is on a yard about four miles away.  It is very small and friendly, so most days there include drinking coffee and chatting about our horses. Clover is on part-livery, so she is cared for in the week and we do weekends and holidays. But of course we are there every day.

As I share my horse with my 15-year-old daughter, we tend to work as a team on the yard. I really enjoy grooming Clover with Katie and spending time together. We don’t get to ride together much, but sometimes one of us borrows a horse from someone at our yard, so we can go out together. We are very lucky that we have trail rides round farmers’ fields right next to our yard, so we don’t have to go out on the road.

I try to do some ground work every day, even if I am not riding. I also love giving Clover a Myofascial Release treatment, which keeps her flexible and pain-free. Some days my daughter and I both ride Clover, and some days it’s just one of us. But we are definitely a team when it comes to making decisions about her care and welfare. I get to provide all the money though!

GM: Through all of the equestrian disciplines and breeds of horses, as a rider myself, I am sure there is a common thread among all equestrians that creates a better rider. Can you pinpoint the single most important thing that can help all riders of all disciplines?
NR: In my experience as a rider and having treated many riders, pelvic alignment is the most important factor across the disciplines. If your pelvis is rotated, it can make it very difficult to ride with balance, symmetry and sensitivity.

The bones of your pelvis can creep out of alignment due to tension in the muscles and soft tissues attaching into them. This usually happens gradually and so your brain becomes used to the new position and often you feel that you are still straight. Most people are walking around with a wonky pelvis and don’t realise.

As a rider, some of the tell-tale signs are:
·        Your stirrup leathers are at different lengths
·        Your saddle always twists to the same side
·        Your saddle wears more on one side than the other
·        You feel that one leg is shorter than the other

As well as impacting on your riding position and balance, a rotated pelvis can affect any other part of your body too – remember it is all connected. So if you have injuries that have never healed completely, or areas of inflammation that are resistant to treatment such as Plantar Fasciitis or Tennis Elbow, the chances are they are linked to your wonky pelvis.

I would strongly recommend that if you think your pelvis might be out of alignment, try to find a therapist who is able to correct it for you.

GM: Great advice. Understanding the importance of alignment keeps us proactive to be able to ride far into the future. What horses do you currently stable?
NR: Clover is our first and only horse. She is a 16.3hh nine-year-old Irish Draft X. When we first had her, she was dapple grey, but as she is getting older, she is getting more and more flea bitten. She came from Ireland and is very very sweet and gentle, with feet like dinner plates!

My daughter and I both ride her, doing a combination of schooling in the arena, trail rides and ground work. I love learning about natural horsemanship and I feel it has really improved my bond with Clover. My daughter, Katie is learning to jump with Clover and is keen to start going to more competitions.

GM: Please share a horse-related anecdote that has made an impact on your equestrian career...
NR: When I was 14 years old, my best friend Gillian was killed in a horse riding accident while she was out on a trail ride on her own.

This obviously affected me massively and since owning my own horse I have thought about her more again all these years later. The main impact is that it led to me making the rule that neither my daughter nor myself go out on trail rides alone. It is very tempting at times, but the memory of what happened stops me. Accidents will happen, but Gillian probably wouldn’t have died if she had somebody with her to get help.

The other affect it has had is to remind me how lucky I am and to appreciate the times that I get to spend with my daughter and Clover.

GM: What advice do you have for novice riders and those looking to purchase (or lease) their first horse?
NR: Starting out as a rider or horse owner can be quite stressful, as well as very exciting. This is the time that you are looking to see if the horse you are meeting could be your new partner and then trying to develop a relationship with them once you have chosen them.

If you are feeling nervous or stressed, it causes physical changes in your body that your horse will pick up on. Because they are herd animals, if they perceive that you are worried about something, their survival instinct will assume that there must be danger and so they will also become nervous. Then their behaviour might change, which in turn will affect you, and so on. Especially if you are just getting to know one another, this reaction can impact on your relationship.

By becoming aware of your own signs of stress and also learning about what to look out for in your horse, it is possible to prevent this cycle escalating and so it will be easier for you and your new horse to relax in each other’s company and enjoy your time together.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
NR: Horsemanship to me means developing the two way relationship between you and your horse. So you learn together and progress comes from not forcing but working together to find your way forward.

This is something that I feel very passionate about and I try hard to learn the right way of doing things and connecting with my horse. Of course it also means that you and your horse are always learning about each other, so you are never done!

GM: List 12 things your fans may not know about you...

1.      I have a six-year-old miniature Labradoodle called Coco.

2.     I am married to Pete and we have three children – twin 18-year-old boys, and a 15 year old daughter.

3.     I am six foot tall.

4.    I am half Belgian and I can speak Dutch.

5.     Last year I was treated for breast cancer – I am fine now.

6.    I love rainbows and sunsets.

7.     When it is very windy, I get grumpy.

8.    My horse is my therapy.

9.    I hate technology but I can’t live without it.

10.  I decided that I wanted to be a Physical Therapist when I was 13 years old.

11.  My favourite song is Three Little Birds by Bob Marley.

12. I am very proud of my business, Holisticare, which has been going since 2006.

Connect with Nikki…

Photo Credits:
Detheo Photography

Gina McKnight is a freelance writer from Ohio USA. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Milliron Monday: Hairball 12 2 19

Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 

Every vet clinic has a mascot - or two. Cats, usually, who are dropped off at the vet clinic hoping the vet staff can find the stray a home. Sometimes, the stray finds a forever home in the clinic.

Milliron Clinic had several cats roaming the clinic grounds. Hairball was probably the most famous, sitting on the receptionist counter, spying everyone who came through the clinic doors. Hairball was iconic, even gracing the Milliron Clinic correspondence. The postcard above was sent to local pet owners for "15% Off First Check-Up Service - New Patients Only" - a way to drive business and persuade pet owners to vaccinate and spay/neuter. 

In all business, advertising is key to enticing new customers. I am sure if you received a "Hairball" postcard, you would have smiled and taken notice of Dr. Smith's discount offer. 

Do you remember Hairball? We'd love to hear your story! Send it to 

Have a great week ahead.

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Gnome Lexicon by Marcia Lewandowski

The Perfect Christmas Gift!

The Gnome Lexicon

Only $24.99

The Essential Gnome Dictionary

To Order Your Copy, send a check or money order to…
PO Box 399
Buchtel, Ohio 45716

Art From the Heart: An Interview with Artist Diana Manitu

Art From the Heart: An Interview with Artist Diana Manitu with Gina McKnight From USA, meet artist Diana Manitu ! The pro...