Winter Is Coming

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!

woodpile

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.
  Campines

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 8x10 Sold

Blue Marina 8×10 Sold

Broken Footbridge – 32×36 ($2 900)
Brokenfootbridgelr

 

And then there is this happy little guy just perfect for the holidays.
Nutcracker- 7×5 $230
Nutcrackersmall

Getting the Brush Off…for a Good Cause

I’m happy to announce that three of my collages:

“Reflections” 
“Duck Day Afternoon”
“Race Time, Saratoga”

were all recently selected to be part of The Brush Off painting competition at Galerie Avenue Art in Montreal. Avenue Art is a gorgeous art gallery located in leVieux Montreal – which as its name would suggest is the oldest part of the city – right on the Old Port.

(Photo source: montrealvenue.com)

(Photo source: montrealvenue.com)
The Brush Off is a competition, exhibition, and fundraising event, with a percentage of the sales going towards Art Based Projects for people living with Alzheimer’s.
The opening night event is October 16th, 6:30 – 9:00 pm. Tickets are $25 at the door. The exhibition continues until November 14th. Galerie Avenue Art is located at 731 de la Commune West, on the second floor.
I’m curious to see the other artwork and to meet the other nine artists!

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.

Something to Crow About?

If you found yourself passing by our yard on a summer evening sometime in the mid-1970’s and heard a cry of “WILLIAM!”, followed by a frantic scattering of children, you might think you were witnessing a game, perhaps some local variant of tag or British Bulldog. But in that notion you would be mistaken. “WILLIAM!” certainly wasn’t a game; he was a rooster.

For reasons I can no longer remember, in my childhood I developed the strange hobby of breeding Bantam chickens. Certainly they were pretty birds, coming as they did in a wild variety of colours and with all manner of fancy plumage. I had Cochins and Silkies, a black Polish hen, a beautiful pair of Mille Fleurs, and…. William. I don’t remember what breed he was, but he was tiny and multicoloured: gold on the neck, dark on the breast, with rusty wings and back, and he had a long opulent tail of the most exquisite dark iridescent green. He truly was a handsome little fellow. Yet only a fool would have been deceived by his lovely appearance and diminutive size. Simply put, William was a nasty piece of work.

An interrupter of games and a spoiler of fun, determined to eradicate all forms of childhood entertainment, William was a ferocious flurry of hackles, talons and spurs. Fast and devious, he would surprise us coming around corners or spot us from across the yard and then run at us full tilt. Nowhere was safe. He chased us. He jumped at the backs of our legs. And worst of all, if he could manage it, he flew right up at our faces.

Not only was he a misery to me and my family, but woe betide any visiting cousin or neighbour. The last straw came one day when I was playing outside in the yard with my best friend- a girl with waist long hair. William spotted us enjoying ourselves from some distance away. He ran at my friend , launching himself at her head and somehow in his fury, he got himself tangled in her hair. She was screaming and crying; he was flapping and fluttering. To remedy the situation I did the only thing I could think of: I grabbed a stick and swung.

Luckily, I missed my friend’s head. Unluckily for William, I did not miss his. The rooster dropped to the ground like a stone and lay there too stunned to move. I thought I had killed him. After what was probably only a few seconds (it seemed much longer), he got back on his feet. Humiliated and chastened, he made a staggering exit from the scene. And his pride wasn’t the only thing that he left without: he also left without his tail. Every single one of his beautiful tail feathers had fallen out and lay in a small heap on our lawn. William was never quite the same after that. Perhaps his change in personality was due to that blow to the head, or perhaps he was simply embarrassed. Either way his reign of terror ended. His tail never grew back either.

Almost William– preparatory line drawing, ink on paper ©2010 Alyson Champ

What’s on the Easel

I have a series of commissions looming- all collages. One will be my first ever large-scale landscape. I am both excited and a bit apprehensive about that. Soon I will also start work on a couple of dog portraits. Those are always fun. I’ll post photos of the work in progress as I go. Strangely, the collage commission which has piqued my interest the most is an order to produce a series of roosters. I’ve gotten as far as making some preliminary drawings, shown here above and below.

Pretty Boy Floyd– preparatory line drawing, ink on paper, ©2010 Alyson Champ

Sheep Go to Heaven

Pinceau, aka The Goat

I never fully understood the connection between goats and the devil until I owned a goat, and then it all became clear. It’s not their horns or their weird eyes that make them seem evil. It’s their personalities.
Sheep will test your fences, get into your garden, run when you don’t want them to, or refuse to move when you most need them to, but what sheep seem to lack, and what goats possess in abundance, isn’t so much intelligence as it is a creative imagination: the capacity to posit the big “what if “, as in

“What if I turn the key in the tractor ignition?”

“Suppose I eat this bucket handle?”

“I wonder what would happen if I picked up this handsaw and
ran away with it?”

Sheep just don’t think this way.

The Goat never ceased trying to find new ways to amuse himself- amuse himself and torment us. Ever the nimble escape artist, he broke, jumped, or climbed his way out of every stall, pen, or paddock he was put in. From his point of view, a fence wasn’t so much an enclosure as it was a suggestion: “You probably should stay in here and eat this grass…but then again, you might prefer to be out there eating those currant bushes. Really, it’s entirely up to you.”

He ate through electrical wiring in the barn, pulled insulation out of the walls, broke windows, collapsed feeders, and destroyed the slop sink by standing in it. With lips as quick as the Artful Dodger’s fingers, The Goat could go through your pockets and grab your wallet, a pen, a utility knife, a syringe full of penicillin, a pair of hoof shears, or just about anything else you’d care to mention, and be off with it in a flash . You wouldn’t even know something was missing until you found yourself patting your pockets, saying, “Now where the heck did I put that….”
Too many times my tool belt clad husband would go out to the barn to repair some goat-related damage and come back with half his screw drivers missing. Or his tape-measure. Or his pliers.
And that myth about goats eating anything and everything? Well, that’s not a myth. They really will eat anything. I didn’t believe it either until I witnessed The Goat cheerfully scarfing down a plastic bag with a side order of latex glove.

In the end it wasn’t his appetite for destruction that ended The Goat’s tenure here as much as it was simply his appetite. One day The Goat got out into the yard and ate my husband’s plantation of cherry trees. And that was that.

Now, The Goat lives at my friend Anna-Maria’s place. No, it wasn’t an act of revenge for those horrible (but ultimately tasty) Muscovy ducks that she gave me. As crazy as it sounds, she really wanted The Goat. Honest!

Julius Caesar, Border Leicester Ram

What’s on the Easel

I have almost finished all the collages for my upcoming exhibition, and yes, many of these new collages feature my sweet, beautiful sheep. I promise to have all the photography done for the next post so that those of you who can’t get to the show itself will at least be able to see a virtual version of it. Until then I’m happy to share with you some of the reference photos which serve as the inspiration for my work. And no, there won’t be any goat collages!


Fabulous Fionna, Border Leicester ewe

Culture – It’s Not Just a City Thing

We are fortunate out here in the Chateauguay Valley to have a rich cultural life, and no, I don’t mean that we get HBO on cable. This is a rural community that takes culture seriously, and not just imported “city” culture, but local culture. Besides our sizable population of cows, we also have a large number of professional, high calibre artists of virtually every type: writers, theatre people, all manner of musicians, and visual artists. And the really nice part is that, as a local artist, you can put on a show, or a concert, or an exhibition, and people will actually come out to see or hear your work and support you. I went to a vernissage last weekend for a local painter and the exhibition space was absolutely packed. I’ve seen Montreal galleries with smaller crowds at the opening of a show. So, all you city people, don’t be fooled by our laid-back rural ways. Interesting, stimulating things do go on beyond your crowded streets and highways. There is definitely some culture out here in the heart of agriculture.

Photo courtesy of MRC du Haut-St-Laurent

One of our little jewels is the exhibition space in the old “Chateau” hotel in the town of Huntingdon. Salle Alfred Langevin (above) is an elegant, open and beautifully lit gallery space which is administered by our MRC -a sort of association of rural municipalities. Every year the cultural committee accepts proposals from artists looking to mount exhibitions. This year I am getting the exhibition space from March 14- April 4 and I will be showing my collages. The MRC prints your posters, invitations (and mails them), supplies the food and drink for the vernissage, and sends out all the press releases to the media. OK, so it’s not Berlin or New York, but the space is free and there is no commission on sales. From an artist’s point of view, it doesn’t get much better than that!