Culture Days: The 2014 Edition

Culture Days – or les Journées de la culture as we call them here in la belle province – are happening again across the country. Events begin today and run through to Sunday, September 28th.

My studio will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. The address is 138 Rang Ste. Anne in St. Chrysostome, just an hour’s drive from Montreal.

Come and visit! You can check out my recent artwork, have a coffee, meet the chickens, and pet a studio cat.

I even tidied up…sort of.

Have We Any Wool?

Yes, lots more than three bags full- probably more like twenty!

The lambs were shorn yesterday, and I got twelve pretty fleeces off them. Including the ones from when the ewes were shorn back in the spring, we have a lot of fleeces to clean and send off to be milled into roving.

The lambs all look pretty silly with their new haircuts, and the really funny thing is that they no longer recognize each other, so ever since the shearer left there has been a lot of baa-ing.

A couple of the lambs have figured out that minus their wool coats they can now squeeze through the space between the gate and the gatepost.   I found this guy on the lawn outside my studio.

Here is a selection of the raw fleece colours. I think they are lovely, and the raw wool is incredibly soft to the touch.

Black Border-Leicester- Blue Faced Leicester cross

Blue Faced Leicester – Jacob (and unknown) cross

Blue Faced Leicester
Hand spinning wool is the closet thing I have to a hobby. I like to work at my wheel in the winter when labour on the farm slows down a bit and it’s too cold to do much outdoors. At least, I liked to spin wool until a certain cat chewed up the drive band on my spinning wheel. Yes, I’m talking about you, Kevin. Oh, and by the way, Kevin is a girl…which is kind of a long story. I must remember to get that drive band replaced before winter!
Doesn’t she look pleased with herself?

Water, Reflections

“Reflections” – 24 x 24 painted paper collage on cradled plywood panel
I completed this collage last month and submitted it for consideration for an exhibition at White Flag Gallery in Brockville, Ontario. The collage was accepted AND….
“Reflections” is being featured on the gallery’s promotional material, which is pretty sweet.
  White Flag Gallery is located at 9 Sheridan Mews, Brockville, ON (613) 342 5548.

 The exhibition based on the theme of Water runs from July 11 – August 16. The vernissage is Thursday, July 10, from 6-9 pm. 

Three Little Lambs

Spring is really and truly here at last. Everyday the landscape around us gets a little greener. The trees are getting their leaves; our pear trees are blooming.

My sheep are out on pasture now, which makes them very happy. Our fences aren’t completely repaired yet, which makes me a little less happy since I have a hard time keeping the sheep where I want them.

I guess for now I just have to go with the flow. One way to keep those sheep exactly where I want them is to turn them into art. Collaged lambs don’t sneak under fences!
Freckles 7×5 painted paper collage on panel.
Ewe and Lamb 4.5×7 painted paper collage on panel.
Spring Green 6×7 painted paper collage on panel.
These collages and some sheep themed greeting cards are travelling to Eastern Ontario next weekend for the St. Distaff Day Fibre Festival at St. Mary’s Community Centre, 19659 County Road 19, Williamstown Ontario. If you are a knitter or spinner, I am told this is the place to be! Some of my small work will be on display and available for purchase at Pinehill Farm’s booth. And check out Pine Hill’s (aka my good friend Anna-Maria Nicolov) beautiful yarn and roving.

Island Bound

Yes, it’s almost that time of year again. No, not tax time. That should be over for most of us, unless you are very naughty and LATE. No, it’s nearly time for the start of the Season at Mackinac Island, and with it the annual opening of Mackinac’s Little Gallery.

My collages are lucky enough to go on vacation to this beautiful place. Here is a new collage in progress bound for Mackinac:

And recently completed:
This collage of the Iroquois Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI, is unusual in that it consists of two 6×4 panels which are meant to be displayed together. Or apart:

Officially, in the art world, a work of art made of two panels that go together  like this is called a diptych – which is also one of my favourite weird words. (Say it out loud, I dare you.) And, yes, three panels together is a tripych, which is also amusing. Almost as good as mukluk.
This diptych and the above lighthouse collage in progress will headed down to Mackinac next week.
And here is a random picture of my chickens doing something weird. 
Looks like they are logrolling, but who can tell with chickens.

Carriage Parade Number Two

This collage took much longer than I thought it would. In part this was due to a series of “real life”  – as opposed to “art life” –  distractions that kept my studio time  restricted for the past few weeks. That is over and done with now, so no more excuses!

Carriage Parade 2 – 8 x 10 painted paper collage on cradled panel
Now on to the next!

More Snow, More Lambs, and a Video!

If my calculations are correct, today is our 124th day of winter and we are enjoying yet another snowstorm. This must be pretty close to a record, I would think.

I made the mistake of walking out to our back pasture this morning to get a shot of the farm. I should have gone on skis because the snow was over my boots. As you can see, even my dog wasn’t sticking around.
Normally by this time of year the ground is bare and my crocuses are poking their heads out to catch the first rays of warm spring sun. Never mind crocuses, we haven’t seen the ground since late November, so I broke down and bought a pot of daffodils. Spring has almost arrived in my studio. 
The lambs keep coming, too. So far we have four sets of twins and a single with a couple of ewes left to go.
Here are some of the babies cuddled up together in the lamb creep. A creep is a small place for little lambs to go where they get introduced to eating grain and hay without being disturbed by the big sheep. They also like to hang out in there and I frequently find them all sleeping together in a warm, wooly little pile.
And now for the exciting art related news:
 Last spring my photographer friend Tracy Martin came for a visit and shot a couple of hours of video footage of the farm and of me working in my studio. Now I am happy to be able to share with you the results here!  

In Like a Lion and Out Like a…?

March arrived roaring in our little corner of La Belle Province and it shows little sign of quieting down. Here we are, the first official day of Spring, and it is snowing. Again. Apparently Mother Nature wanted to celebrate the Vernal Equinox this way:

More snow is announced for Saturday. I hope wherever you are there are daffodils. 
The only place on our farm where you can catch a glimpse of spring is out in the barn. Yes, we have lambs!
Now if that doesn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will.  Cheers me up. There aren’t too many things more fun to watch than a baby animal experiencing the world for the first time. This little girl is getting acquainted with her Auntie Violaine. 
Tempted as I am to spend the day watching lambs frolic, I do actually get some real work done. Even when it looks like this outside my studio.
It’s always bright and comfortable inside. With some music on and a collage on my work table, I can forget about our lousy weather.
I finished a new collage just this afternoon. “Carriage Parade”  is slated for Mackinac’s Little Gallery for the seasonal re-opening in May. A big thank you goes out to Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog for the reference photo.
“Carriage Parade” 8X10 painted paper collage on panel.
I really like the green collage paper in this one. Sigh. I remember green.

Child’s Play

It was March Break this past week which meant I also had a week off from my regular classroom gig. I have been teaching art classes for children for over a decade now. More than ten years! How did that happen? Some of the kids from the very first elementary school art programme I was ever involved with are now married and are having children of their own. It makes me feel like an art grandma.  Perhaps in a few years I will be teaching those children, too.

One of the joys of teaching children is witnessing the surprise and pleasure they get out of exploring a new technique. I like to introduce to them things they might not otherwise get to try, things like found object sculpture, print making, and, of course, painted paper collage. I also like to push the kids a little.

Our projects in February were all about drawing and learning to “see”. We worked on grid drawings – what artists call “squaring up” – in order to help the kids understand that they can observe the parts of an object in isolation and just draw what they see bit by bit instead of trying to make sense of the entire object all at once. Often seeing the “whole”, especially of a complicated object  like a human face, can be very intimidating, so these grid drawing projects are real confidence boosters.

As February is Black History month, I had the kids work on an iconic drawing of Nelson Mandela. They made an 100% enlargement of the original drawing (above) to go from an 8 x 10 to a 16 x 20. It took a couple of classes to accomplish this. I was stunned by the level of patience shown by a class of 9 – 12 year olds. You could have heard a pin drop in the art room, these kids were so focused!

Once the drawings were completed, we then moved on to making a black and white poster out of the drawing. I supplied the class with four values of paint from black to light grey. The kids were responsible for figuring out which value went where.

Pretty impressive results! It will be fun to see all these posters displayed together.
I will be back to school this coming Wednesday. With Spring just around the corner (I hope) it seems appropriate that we begin to discuss the theory and uses of colour.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

Dear Readers,

Did you miss me? I’m sorry for my lengthy absence.Where have I been? Working mostly. And dealing with ringworm. Don’t know what ringworm is? Count yourself among the fortunate.

We have a multi-cat household: three cats in the house, two in the studio, three in the barn – and five of them (the house and studio cats) came down with ringworm! And then all the humans in our household also got ringworm.

 For the past two months I have been doing laundry, vacuuming, and washing floors – not to mention dipping and medicating cats – to try to get rid of this fungus. I think we’ve got it beat now….I hope! Just writing about it makes me itch.

So, to get caught up on the artwork announcements:

I’m happy to announce that this year I have work on display at Art Show at the Dog Show. This is a huge dog show and art event in Wichita Kansas. Three of my collages were accepted. One of them is “Eric at the Beach” (below) which shows my friend Cathy’s greyhound enjoying his vacation.

The rest of my work may be found on page 18 of the exhibition website. The exhibition opens March 1st.
One of my collages is also part of the Artothèque Art Rental collection at the Stewart Hall Art Gallery. You will find  “Ti-gars” there available for purchase or rent.
The collection may now be viewed online here.
And last but not least, if you find yourself in Florida for the Winter Equestrian Festival, I hope you will stop in at the Bruno Delgrange saddle booth. Beside the beautiful handmade French saddles you will find some of my collages. Here is a sample of the work available there: