Word came to me yesterday that my collage “Saratoga” was sold by the Art Rental and Sales Service of the Stewart Hall Art Gallery, Pointe-Claire, Quebec. I was happy to have two collages included in the 2012/2013 collection, and now I’m doubly chuffed that one of my collages has sold. A big thank you to the gallery staff for making the sale!
Another little surprise that arrived in the mail was a letter of invitation from The American Academy of Equine Art to participate in their “The Horse in Fine Art, 2013” exhibition. The exhibition will run concurrently in two venues: At the Anne Wright Wilson Gallery of Georgetown College, in Georgetown KY, and at The Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art in Marietta GA, which is near Atlanta. The Horse in Fine Art Exhibition will be on display during the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington, the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, and the spring season of Thoroughbred racing at Keeneland.
Now a word of caution, being invited IS NOT the same as being IN. My work still might not make the cut. However, as they say in Hollywood about the Oscars, it’s an honour just to be nominated!
For more information about the AAEA, just click the link here.
As previously stated on this blog – usually around this time of year in fact- I’m not a big fan of resolutions. Not resolutions themselves, my objection is specific to the New Year’s variety. I never break ’em, ’cause I never make ’em. Yes, folks, it’s really that simple. Can you feel a “nevertheless” coming? I can.
Nevertheless, this year I made a point of reviewing my artwork, just to see what I had accomplished in our Annus Horribilis, 2012. Not as much as I would have hoped; this is normal. Given the circumstances though, the output wasn’t too bad. What did concern me a bit is the way the work is tightening up.
By tightening up, I essentially mean that my collages are becoming more realistic and highly detailed in their quest to become like paintings. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that I’m not exactly sure that this is the artistic direction in which I want to be moving. I have struggled with this in my painting, too. Loose is hard for me.
This art-related tightness is an odd habit because I don’t think that I’m an especially uptight person. These days my blood pressure is around 90/60. I suspect that if I were any less uptight I might actually be comatose. If you are reading this blog while you are in a coma and I have offended you with my offhand comment, I apologise.
The other problem with obsessively detailed artwork is that the works take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to finish.
Now, if I were making union scale wages and was paid by the hour, this might actually be an advantage. I once sat in a hospital waiting room and watched a cleaning woman go about her work sooo slooooowly, seemingly counting each step, each movement, always with one eye on the clock, I could only conclude that if she had worked at a normal pace, she probably could have finished her shift in an hour. And then, no doubt, she would have efficiently worked herself out of a job.
Not for me the life of the wage-slave. No. As it stands though, if I want to maximize my creative output….something’s gotta give.
What are my New Year’s resolutions you ask? Here, I’ll tell you:
Keep it simple, stupid. I’m not willing to go to no details, so judicious use of detail only.
Have fewer values, but have them really count. No, I’m not becoming a nihilist; this is an artistic decision. Instead of trying to reproduce the depth and realism of a painting, I’m going back to a value scale of three or four values maximum.
Good design is everything. Amen to that.
Here is the first completed collage of 2013, and, yes, I am attempting to be true to my resolutions.
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the barn,
many creatures were stirring, for the lights were left on…
Two ewes at the feeder picking through the leavings of their evening meal.
Flopsy: Can you believe it? She left the lights on in here AGAIN!
Dora: I know, eh? All that talk about what picky eaters we are, how much hay we waste, and she goes and leaves the lights on. Sheesh! Talk about waste! Hey, what time you think it is?
Flopsy: Dunno. Pretty late I guess.
Dora: Hmm. Must be something going on. This is late, even for her.
Frank the Ram saunters over, looking for a snack.
Frank: Ladies. What’s up?
Flopsy: It’s late; the lights are still on; nobody seems to be around. Any idea what’s going on?
Frank: Yeah, you know, it’s one of those human holidays. See, there’s this pudgy bearded guy in a fuzzy red suit who throws presents at you from his magic space sleigh. And then there’s, like, all this food and singing and parties and stuff. Oh, and visitors- lots of visitors. Remember last year when those small humans came into the barn and chased us around while the other big humans took pictures with those camera thingies?
Frank: Well, that was Christmas.
Ewes: Oh. Great.
Frank: Oh yeah, and here’s the totally cool part…I almost forgot… (Frank noses around in the feeder) mhmph…alfalfa… awesome! Hey, do you ladies mind if I eat that?
Ewes: No, go right ahead.
Frank: (Chewing) Mmmm…this is pretty good…now what was I saying? Oh yeah, yeah, the cool part. So, I heard from this other ram back on the farm where I used to live that at midnight on Christmas animals can TALK!
Dora: Talk? Like with your mouth?
Flopsy shoots Dora a look.
Flopsy: No, like talk with some other body part, you moron.
Dora: What? It’s a legitimate question. Ever stand next to Juliet when we’re eating grain? I’m pretty sure that’s not her mouth talking.
Both ewes laugh. Then from across the barn-
Juliet: Hey, I heard that!!
Flopsy: Talking. What a strange idea. I wonder if it’s true … (pauses) …Wait…Do yousuppose maybe we’re talking RIGHT NOW?!
Frank: (Stops mid-chew) Whoa…We totally are talking! Oooooooh Freaky!
Frank, Dora and Flopsy all look at each other with amazement.
Just then Barn Cat appears from the shadows as he slinks through the sheep pen
on his way to somewhere else.
Flopsy: Hey Cat, do you think animals can talk?
Barn Cat stops mid-slink.
Barn Cat: Talk? Talk about gullible, you mean. You sheep will believe anything. Of course animals can’t talk.
Flopsy: Well, if animals can’t talk, then how are we having this conversation?
Barn Cat: What conversation? We’re not having a conversation. You only think we are having a conversation. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere to be. Somewhere that isn’t here.
Cat performs ninja moves and silently exits.
Flopsy: Cats are SO weird. And what does he mean by gullible? Who’s gullible?
Dora: I think Gullible was that spotted ram we met a couple of years ago, remember?
Frank: Ladies, if I may interject. Gullible means you believe stuff easily without requiring proof…. Like that time I totally invented cold fusion and fooled all those journalists and almost won a Nobel Prize…Oh wait… that wasn’t me. But you get the idea. Hey, is that some of that fescue and reed canary grass blend? That stuff’s awesome! You ladies mind?
Ewes: No, go right ahead.
Across the barn in the chicken pen, Floyd the rooster begins to crow.
Floyd ( singing): I’ve been really tryin’, baby
Tryin’ to hold back this feeling for so long
And if you feel like I feel, baby
Then come on, oh, come on
Whoo, let’s get it on…..
Flopsy: There goes that fool of a rooster. The lights are on so he thinks it’s day! Dumb as a bag of hammers.
Ewe Chorus: SHUT UP!!!
Dora: I can’t believe the hens fall for that “Oh baby, baby” routine. Talk about, wait, what was that word again?
Cat returns, this time with a mouse tail dangling out of his mouth.
He mumbles because his mouth is full.
Flopsy: What’s that, cat? By the way, you’ve got something stuck in your teeth.
Cat spits out the mouse.
Cat: Ahem. I said it before and I’ll say it again. You sheep are gullible.
Flopsy: Okay Cat, if you’re so smart, give me one example of how we are gullible.
Cat: In a word: Freezer.
Dora looks slightly panicked
Dora: What about Freezer?
Cat: Dora, what is Freezer?
Dora: Why, Freezer is a special place where only the Truly Good and Tasty animals go. A place where everything is perfect: the grass is green, the sun is always shining, the apples are ripe, and grain falls in gentle showers from the sky. And there are no coyotes. Or intestinal parasites.
Cat: And it’s an actual place? (Commences gnawing on mouse)
Dora: Yes, of course it’s a real place, but why…..
Frank: If I may interject. Dora, perhaps Freezer is… like a…um…a metaphor. Not so much an actual place, more a state of complete peace, of perfect consciousness if you will….a sort of a goal on life’s path to spiritual enlightenment. (Frank sniffs the ground) Oooh I think somebody missed a piece of corn….
Cat (choking): Hack. Cough. Man, you have GOT to be kidding me! Do you seriously believe….
From across the barn, the rooster crows again.
Floyd (sings): When a man loves a woman
Can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world
For the good thing he’s found…
Ewe Chorus: SHUT UP!!!!!
Cat: Dora, look over there.
Cat: Over there at the turkey pen. Tell me what you see.
Dora: Nothing. It’s full of emptiness.
Cat shakes his head in disbelief.
Cat: Yes Dora, it’s “full of emptiness”. (making air quotes with his paws) And why is it empty, Dora?
Dora: Because the turkeys were Truly Good and Tasty Animals, and they went to Freezer.
Cat: Look, let me tell you something about Freezer, okay? If Freezer is a state of complete peaceand perfect consciousness, then those turkeys began their path to enlightenment on the back of a truck. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was a Ford.
Dora (horror stricken) NOOOO! It’s a REAL PLACE!
Cat: Oh, it’s a real place all right….
Dora: Lalalala I can’t hear you!
Dora runs away and hides her head in an empty water bucket.
Flopsy: Great. Now look what you did. It’s going to take hours to calm her down.
Frank: Hey Cat! Why you gotta be such a downer, dude?
Flopsy: Yeah. And I thought you said we couldn’t talk. That was a whole lot of talking for someone who doesn’t talk.
Cat: I wasn’t talking. In fact, I’m not even here. I don’t exist. It’s all just your imagination.
Flopsy stomps on Cat’s tail.
Cat: YEOOOOOW! What did you do that for?
Flopsy: Did you feel that?
Cat licks his tail.
Cat: Of course I felt that! What’s wrong with you?
Flopsy: That’s funny. I thought you were a figment of my imagination.
Cat realizes to his embarrassment that he has just been outwitted by a sheep.
Cat: I just remembered that… I forgot…to do……stuff.
Cat exits in disgrace.
Frank (laughing): Hey Flopsy, I don’t know if this whole “talking” thing is real, but I think you just proved the existence of Cat.
From across the barn, Floyd the rooster crows again.
Floyd (singing): And I can’t fight this feeling anymore
I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for
It’s time to bring this ship into the shore
And throw away the oars, forever!
Ewe Chorus: SHUT UP!!!!
Flopsy: I can’t take much more of that rooster. Now he’s singing REO Speedwagon.
We’re going to have to fight fire with fire here. Anybody know a song? Some Cole Porter?
Blue Moon of Kentucky? Anything? Please! Anyone?
Dora returns with a water bucket on her head.
Dora: Oh I do! I know one! Pick me!
Dora begins to sing
Dora: Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.
All the sheep join in.
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.
Outside, a car pulls into the yard.
Frank: Uh oh, everybody pipe down! I see lights coming up the driveway.
Flopsy: She’s home. Thank goodness! Now maybe we can get some rest. Shush, everybody! She’ll hear us!
The Forgetful Farmer enters the barn to turn off the lights.
Forgetful Farmer: Oh for the love of Pete, what’s with all the racket? Knock it off you animals and go to sleep! Don’t you know it’s Christmas? Now goodnight! I’ll feed you tomorrow.
Forgetful Farmer turns off lights. The barn is now completely dark. The animals are quiet.
Flopsy (whispers): Psst. Frank, do you think she heard us? Frank (also whispering): Not a chance. Humans are totally clueless.
My daughter and I recently outed ourselves as “cat people”. Not that we don’t love dogs, but we have come to realize that we share a deeper affinity for cats. Go figure. Whenever I have been asked which is my favourite animal, until recently my response would have been most assuredly dogs! But now……?
To me this feels a lot like the time I discovered that despite many years of believing myself to a Generation X Slacker, I was actually a member of Generation Y. Indeed, I missed true Slackerdom by one year. ONE YEAR! Stupid demographers.
Anyway. You might be wondering what the point is. If you read this blog often, by now you have probably figured out that there is seldom a point. If you are looking for real literature or thought provoking ideas, I suggest the library. And I, meanwhile, in spite of my cat loving nature, continue to make art featuring – yes, you guessed it- DOGS!
A couple of months ago, I heard about an art rental and sales progamme run by the City of Pointe-Claire, Quebec. Pointe-Claire is a suburb of Montreal, on the western end of the island. The Art Rental Collection- l’Artothèque, en français- has been around for more than forty years, but this was the first I had heard about it. This is their mandate:
Since 1967, when it was established as a project for Canada’s centennial, the Art Rental and Sales Service of the Stewart Hall Art Gallery has taken an active role in the promotion of the arts in the community by offering more than a hundred figurative and abstract works of art to the public. The success and popularity of the service amongst artists and art lovers continues to grow annually.
Every year, the Art Rental and Sales Service renews its collection by inviting artists of the greater Montreal area to submit their works to a professional jury. The selected works – including drawings, paintings, photography, prints and mixed media – are then exhibited in the Art Gallery. Following the exhibition, the Collection is available for sale or rent for one year at the Art Rental and Sales Service, located on the 2nd floor of Stewart Hall.
It is as easy to rent a work of art from the Art Rental and Sales Service as it is to borrow a book from the library. Works from the Art Rental Collection are framed and ready to hang and may be purchased, or rented for a limited time, offering an affordable way to bring art into the home or work environment. It’s a lovely space, too, in a beautiful renovated waterfront mansion.
I was able to make the submission deadline, so I figured I would give it a shot. I submitted three pieces (the maximum number allowed) to the jury, and much to my surprise two of the three were accepted.
I’m delighted that these two collages, Saratoga and Winter Blues, will form part of the 2012/2013 at the Art Rental and Sales Collection at Stewart Hall in Pointe-Claire. Pretty cool, huh?
Oh, and it gets better: there’s a vernissage! This Sunday the exhibition opens to the public at 2:00 pm. Consider yourself invited. The exhibition runs until November 25th, 2012.
Just recently I have begun uploading images to Fine Art America in order to offer them as inexpensive cards and prints. I thought that it might give would-be art collectors the opportunity to test out my work at a lower cost than buying an original.
So, out of curiosity, I ordered a bunch of cards off the site for my own use as I was curious to see if the ease of purchase and quality of the reproductions would be good as I had heard they are. Well, guess what? I’m happy to report that the printing quality is excellent! The cards are printed beautifully: rich colours, crisp images on high quality, glossy card stock, and they come with good quality envelopes. They arrived in Canada within a week of ordering. I have NO qualms about recommending this print on demand service!
If you like my art and have been considering a purchase, but aren’t quite sure if you really want to spend that much to invest in an original work, perhaps you could start out with a print or some cards? The prints start as low a $22.
A pack of ten cards sells for $32.
See, aren’t they pretty? I’m going to order some more for myself to send as Christmas cards this year.
And I guess now a whole bunch of people know what’s on our living room bookshelf, too.
I grew up near the village of Howick, a blink and you miss it settlement in the Southwest corner of Quebec. The English River, named originally for the English family who settled there – now mistakenly and officially translated into French as Rivière des anglais- is the waterway that runs through the village. The river, as you may well imagine, was the scene of much childhood activity. We fished in it, went boating and canoeing on it, swam (!) in it, rock hopped the shallow rapids, hunted for shells and “artifacts” near the shore, and skated on it in the winter.
Since moving a few kilometers south of Howick, nearer to the village of St. Chrysostome, we have changed municipalities, but are still on the English River. It is, in fact, right at the bottom end of our smaller corn field.
The English isn’t a spectacular river by any means- no showy, pounding rapids, no steep cliffs tower above it, no swift currents torment it- but it is a pretty river in a gentle, pastoral way. I have painted its scenery many times. Now that I am experimenting with a wider range of collage subjects, I have grown increasingly interested in making painted paper collage landscapes. The idea of creating a collage image that looks like a painting, but isn’t- this intrigues me. My newest work is entitled “Along the English River/ Rivière des anglais”.
“I am not accident prone!” my husband declares while trying to disentangle the various I.V. lines in his right arm, only to hit himself in the head with the cast on his left.
“That’s not what your mother says.” I answer.
“What does she know?! She’s my mother!”
Ten o’clock in the morning, a warm day in May, my husband is in a hospital bed, recovering from surgery and multiple fractures.
My mother-in-law has just left, but not before regaling us with tales of my husband’s various mishaps. The stories culminate in the re-telling of an incident from his childhood: At the age of two, tethered to the clothes line and under the “supervision” of his older brother, my husband ate poisonous berries off a shrub in the backyard and had to be rushed to hospital to have his stomach pumped only to return home a day or so later whereupon he promptly consumed a bar of soap in the bathroom.
“I was TWO!” he says, irritated. “And just how does that story show that I am accident prone?”
“No, you’re right,” I say, “that’s not accident-prone. It’s something, though.”
He glares at me.
“And why were you on a leash tied to the clothesline?” I ask.
“How should I know- It was the SIXTIES!”
My husband is a woodworker by trade and so has had his fair share of job-related injuries: cuts requiring stitches, a splinter in the eye, the occasional smashed finger. Since taking up farming, he has had two accidents serious enough to require hospitalization, and, curiously, both of them were directly connected to fencing. No, not the white outfits, skinny swords, and “En garde!” type of fencing. More the “Why are there sheep in the backyard?” type of fencing.
Our farm used to be a goat farm and was fenced with goats in mind. We figured the page wire fences ought to be good enough to hold sheep.
For the first couple of years, the sheep were indeed easy on the fences; normal maintenance was all that was required. Then we added some Blue Faced Leicester genetics into our mostly Border Leicester flock. One thing I will say about Blue Faced Leicesters, apart from their elegant bearing and gorgeous fleece, they have an uncanny ability to spot a loose picket. Within a year, all hell broke loose. And when I say “broke loose” I mean that literally.
To remedy the loose pickets, my husband designed for himself a gigantic, wooden maul – but he never got to use it. The angle grinder he was using to carve the maul slipped and cut open his right knee: Accident Number One. His recovery took several weeks; the fencing went unrepaired. The sheep continued to graze pretty much anywhere they chose.
Initially, the periodic out of bounds grazing wasn’t really such a big deal, so we let it go. Our farm is a long way from the road and we have no immediate neighbours to complain about sheep in their yard. The fences, though, got seriously damaged by sheep accustomed to pushing their way under the wire at will, plus implementing any kind of rotational grazing was pretty much out of the question. Eventually it became obvious that we had to repair the fences. Plans were made for the following spring, bringing us to Accident Number Two.
Accident Number Two involved fence pickets, the front end loader of a tractor, and my husband’s left wrist and ankle. To make things just a little bit worse, this was also the spring that we were able to embark on a long awaited renovation project: having a cement foundation put under our house. Earth was moved; heavy equipment came and went; a section of fencing in the pasture closest to the house disappeared.
Unfinished, damaged, or absent fencing, combined with major home renovations, and a husband temporarily confined to a wheelchair meant free rein for a certain flock of sheep.
“I think the sheep are eating the romaine lettuce.” says my husband, momentarily distracted from a DVD of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” by the sight of sheep in our garden.
Out the door I run to herd sheep through a gate back into the pasture where they belong. I see the sheep have arrived in the garden through a section of missing fence, but how did they get into that pasture in the first place? A quick walk out to the back fence shows me a sizable gap between the bottom of the page wire and the ground, along with the ample evidence of the crime: fleece caught on the wire. I patch up the fence with extra pickets, rocks, wire – whatever I can lay my hands on to block the gap. I inspect the rest of the fence for additional gaps, and satisfied that there are none, return to the house.
Later in the summer, on impulse one day in the feed store, I bought myself a length of portable electric fence and a solar battery, thinking that I could contain the sheep and mow our lawn all in one fell swoop. It was a nice idea. The problem with this arrangement, however, was that I could never persuade ALL the sheep into the temporary corral. While I could lure some of them in there with a grain bucket, there were always a few holdouts. Separated from their fellows, the sheep in the corral spent most of their time calling out to the others who remained in the pasture – like a very long, very loud game of Sheep Marco Polo.
And, of course, it also meant that the animals not contained within the electric fence were still able to get out. I gave up.
“Do sheep actually LIKE green peppers?” asks my husband seated in his wheelchair, Stephen King’s novel “Misery” open on his lap, as he surveys our yard through the window.
“I don’t think so,” I say, “Why?”
“Because the sheep are out in the garden eating them.”
Out the door I go again, this time determined to block access to the yard entirely. The fence is missing several pickets which I cannot possibly replace. What to do? I root through the piles of construction rubble in our yard and pull out some scrap lumber and a section of wooden railing from our old deck. From this, some extra pickets, wire, and baler twine, I fashion a temporary fence. It isn’t pretty, but it works. The sheep come up to the “fence” and look at it. The vegetable garden remains tantalizingly close, just out of reach.
“HA!” I say to them, triumphant. They look at me and walk off. Days pass.
I enter the living room to find my husband peering out the window through a pair of binoculars, Grace Kelly in Rear Window frozen on the TV screen behind him.
“Where are the sheep?” he asks.
“Out in the back pasture, last time I saw them. Why?” I say.
“Hmm. I don’t think so. Here, take a look.” And he hands me the binoculars.
Out the door I go, this time to the car. A plume of dust follows me as I speed down our driveway, onto the road, and then a short distance up the neighbour’s lane. I stop and get out. The sheep are looking at me. They have broken out not to invade my garden or graze the lawn. No. They are in the neighbour’s fallow, herbicide sprayed field eating dried up cow parsnip and ragweed.
“What is the matter with you animals??!” I yell.
“Baaaaa!” they say.
I clap my hands and wave my arms at them. They turn to flee, kicking up their heels and cavorting as they go. I follow them in the car in order to see where exactly they have breached the fence.
Lacking adequate materials, again I raid the pile of construction debris. Pulling out more wooden railing and scrap lumber, I drag it out across the pasture to fashion yet another patch.
Over the course of the summer, the sheep continued to escape. I continued to patch fences with whatever I could find; my husband remained in a wheelchair. Our neighbour eventually did me the kindness of mowing down his fallow field. The sheep lost interest in that, at least.
“What are you doing?” my husband asks me through the window.
“I’m moving the electric fence.” I say as I lug the roll of portable fence across the lawn.
When my daughter was in primary school, fundraising activities were common occurrences. I remember quite clearly one day in December when she and a group of friends spent a chilly winter afternoon going door to door selling bread. They came home a couple of hours later with a sizable order list. And a kitten.
When I asked where the kitten had come from, the kids said they had found her shivering in a ditch by the side of the road, presumably abandoned. The kitten was a tiny little thing, maybe five weeks old, and my daughter begged me to keep her. Since I have a hard time putting out an animal once it has come into my house, I really couldn’t refuse.
Tabitha soon became a most cherished member of the family, and never for a moment did I regret taking her in. I also never questioned the “kitten in the ditch” story that the children told me. We live in the country, and, sadly, animals are abandoned by the roadside all the time.
Five years or so later, my daughter came up to me one day and said, quite out of the blue,
“Mom, we need to talk.”
Now, I don’t know if you have ever been the parent of a teenager, but if you have, you know that those aren’t words that you really want to hear. Fearing the worst, I sat down to listen to what my daughter had to tell me.
And quite a tale it was.
“Remember when we brought Tabby home and I told you that we found her in the ditch?” my daughter said to me.
“Yes.” I said.
“Well….we didn’t really find her in the ditch,” my daughter confessed, “we stole her from the farmyard down at Pam’s.” She paused, ” Are you mad?”
Was I mad? well, not really, though I wasn’t pleased that I was deliberately deceived by a bunch of children. Although I must say, I was a little impressed that they all stuck to their story- for years, in fact. And what’s more, they had first tried to persuade all the other mothers to take the kitten, with no success. But in the end, my daughter was confident she knew how to sucker me into it. And sucker me she did.
Tabitha is seven now, and we love her as much as we did the day that she came into the house tucked inside a child’s coat. She also makes appearances in my artwork from time to time, as below.
If you were to find yourself out in our back pasture in January, this would be the view. I’m sure that months into our long, cold, Canadian winter I won’t be so fond of the sight of snow, but looking at these nice cool blues was a treat in the hot days at the end of summer.
This collage is my first serious attempt at incorporating found papers into an artwork. “Birches” is made of papers hand painted with acrylic, painted wrapping paper, and printed magazine stock. I’m pretty happy with the result and will probably try it again. It could be a handy way to do some recycling!