Most days, weather permitting, I take a walk in the woods behind our farm. I see remarkable things sometimes, like the time I caught a glimpse of a wolverine. But most of the time I see animals such as deer, grouse, and turkeys, many different birds of prey, and generally birds of all kinds.
Pretty well all the birds clear out when they spot me coming, all the birds except for the chickadees that is. They continue to go about their business. And what a lot of business they have, too. Such busy little things. Of all the birds I see they always look the happiest, and they never fail to cheer me up. I thought it was past time that they appeared in my art, so I have planned a series of four collages depicting these cheerful little birds.
I have been trying to work out the visual vocabulary for my big Rare Beasts project. My aim is to combine my usual collage technique with elements of Medieval manuscript illumination because what I am making is a Bestiary of sorts.
Here is an early attempt to get things right.
Bronze Turkey- 9 x 12 mixed media collage on panel.
As you can see, I have been indulging in gold leaf. It is tricky stuff to use – especially in a studio inhabited by a couple of cats – but I am getting better at it. Gold leaf is a lot like glitter in that one tends to find little bits of it everywhere.
Shortly before the end of 2015 I received news that I had been awarded a regional project grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. My project is to create a series of collages depicting rare and endangered breeds of farm animals. The collages will be exhibited in numerous venues in the Haut-Saint-Laurent region of Quebec, and will also be compiled in a book. The title of the project is ‘Rare Beasts: A Bestiary of Rare and Endangered Farm animals’. I will be working on this project for the next eighteen months.
I have set up a separate website to house “Rare Beasts” . Click the link here if you would like to follow the progress of the project.
Bronze Turkey – pencil drawing
Horned Dorset Ram – charcoal and white chalk on grey paper.
A note to subscribers of this blog. I have transferred The Chronicle of Wasted Time from its original home at alysonchamp.blogspot.ca and will eventually be deleting the blog at the old site. I hope you will continue to follow my studio news and farm goings-on here at this site. If you would like to receive this blog directly in your email, you will need to re-subscribe. Sorry about that, but there seems to be no way to import the subscribers with the blog. You will find the Sign Up button to the right of this post.
It’s surprising how much work is involved in getting ready for winter. Well, I suppose I should say, it’s surprising how much work is involved in getting ready for winter IF YOU ARE A CANADIAN.
My husband tells me we now have enough wood to heat the house for two years!
We have been blessed with a long, mild fall this year. But the snow and cold will come eventually. My chickens recently have been moved to their winter coop inside the sheep barn. And this year we have all new birds, including these beauties who were given to me by a friend.
The hen at the front left is a Belgian Golden Campine. On the right is a Phoenix rooster. At the back are assorted bantam hens. They are bound to make an appearance in my collages sometime soon.
As for my most recent collages, they show a variety of subjects.
Blue Marina – 8×10 (sold)
Blue Marina 8×10 Sold
Broken Footbridge – 32×36 ($2 900)
And then there is this happy little guy just perfect for the holidays.
I accidentally broke my website last week. And by ‘broke’ I mean I basically destroyed it. “How?” I hear you wondering. Oh, you know, by doing something stupid.
So for the past week I have been picking away at the site, trying (with some help) to get the thing functional again, and this morning…EUREKA! I invite you to take a look here. There have been some renovations done, and some more still to do, but I think it is looking pretty spiffy. And if things are working the way they should be, this blog post will actually APPEAR in the site itself. *crosses fingers*
While we are on the subject of my stupidity, the other dumb art-related thing I did recently was to send in a meticulously presented grant application with the wrong number of CDs included. In my defense, it was a French form and I am a native English speaker. And who knew that when they said FIVE copies, they really did mean FIVE! Fortunately, the nice people at the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec let me know of my error, and I was able to correct the situation without being penalized or having my file dumped in the trash. Whew! Now to wait for the jury’s decision. *crosses other fingers*
So what else have I done lately that wasn’t stupid? Well, I made this:
Our old Orpington rooster is getting on in years, so it seemed to me that his portrait was overdue. Kepler is a handsome dude – and he knows it! His feathers gleam iridescent blue-green in the sun, and he has a fine voice. What more could a hen ask for?
Black Orpington Rooster- 14×12, painted paper collage on panel.
For the first time in a long time I have painted a landscape. And yes you read that correctly, PAINTED, not collaged. That makes two oil paintings in a row! No, this is the start of a major change of artistic direction. I had a couple of overdue commissions to execute and figured I had better get them done.
This painting is pretty big: 36 X 24, oil on linen. ‘Waterfall’ was inspired by a photo my daughter took in Mount Royal Park in Montreal a couple of years ago.
Mount Royal Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed New York’s Central Park. As you can imagine, Mount Royal is a gem! It is a green oasis atop the summit of a small mountain, right smack in the heart of North America’s most beautiful city…. Not that I’m biased or anything.
Since switching over to collage full time eight years ago, it’s like a mini vacation for my brain whenever I get a commission to do an oil painting.
I recently had the pleasure of immortalizing a Canadian stallion (yes, Canadian IS a breed of horse) who belongs to a friend of mine. He is a beauty and a true gentleman, so the job was a pleasure.
First I gridded up a drawing from a photo that my friend and I selected as our best portrait reference option.
To avoid unnecessary labour, the drawing was transferred to the panel via tracing paper and then drawn over with thinned oil paint to preserve the lines.
Then comes the blocking in the major colour and value areas. The finishing of a painting is – for me at least- a process of gradual refinement.
I always marvel at artists who can work on isolated areas of a painting at a time. I need to bring the whole picture along simultaneously so I can see how all the parts relate to each other. I was taught to do this, and as I work, I can still hear one of my old painting instructors shouting to the class, “Start everything at the same time; finish everything at the same time.” I guess that advice stuck!
Here is a detail of the portrait near completion, and the finished product below.