Fundraising Auction

As many of you no doubt know, I am busy at work on an extended art project called Rare Beasts. This  project is a series of collages centred around the theme of rare and endangered farm animals. Click here to read more about the project.

 

In course of working on such an extended series, I have made a lot of unexpected connections with people who are actively involved in the preservation of rare breeds.

This is George the Newfoundland Pony. Newfoundland Ponies are critically endangered ponies native to the province of Newfoundland, Canada. George’s owner, Nathalie, kindly got in touch with me about my

George

my project and gave me a fine selection of reference photos to work from when making the collage. As I was working on the collage, I found out that George was ill with severe laminitis (an inflammatory condition) in all four feet and would need to be relocated to a Newfoundland Pony refuge in New Hampshire. You can read about the refuge, Villi Poni Farm, here.

Because George’s owner was so nice and George is SO VERY CUTE, and because the Villi Poni Farm does such good and important work in preserving these critically endangered ponies, I wanted to help George and the refuge in some way.

Tomorrow, October 1st, Villi Poni is holding an online auction on their Facebook page to raise funds for the refuge. I donated this charcoal drawing of George for the auction.


The portrait of George is 12 x 9 inches, unframed, charcoal and white chalk on blue paper. I hope you will consider helping out the sanctuary – and George! – by making a bid!

Cheerful Companions

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.

chickadee1

chickadee2

Chickadee3

Chickadee4

And here is the first one finished.

 

Chickadee One, 12x12 collage on panel

Chickadee One, 12×12 collage on panel

Now he or she just needs a suitable title.

Some Exciting News

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

Bronze Turkey – pencil drawing

Horned Dorset Ram - charcoal and white chalk on grey paper.

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.

Season’s Greetings

Best wishes to you and yours for a joy filled Christmas… or any other holiday you might be celebrating. And if you are not celebrating,well, WHY NOT? This is as good a time as any, isn’t it?

MerryChristmassmall

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.

Some of the Nicest People I Know Are Dogs

I love dogs. I love dogs and I have three of them. And while they sometimes drive me crazy, usually I find them charming and entertaining. Happy, optimistic, and easy going almost to a fault, they truly make the best companions.

Cocker Head Study- 8×10 charcoal/white chalk on gray paper ©2009 Alyson Champ

Pretty much anything you would like to do is ok with a dog: You’re going to the store? Hey, can I ride in the car? You want to get the mail? No problem, I’d love to go for a walk. Roast chicken for supper? Great! I’ll just sit here beside you, you know, in case something falls on the floor and that way you won’t have to clean it up!

Just as my love of horses and my need to create often converge, so too does my artwork with my fondness for dogs. From time to time I get asked to paint a portrait of a family pet, usually a dog. Painting an animal portrait, just like painting a human portrait, is a tricky business. The most obvious problem is the question of getting a “likeness” – making the animal look the way it actually does. Photos supply most of the information required, but it is nice to actually be able to meet the animal, to see it move and to touch it. Dogs, like people, have character, and catching that individuality, that spark of life, or soul, is the hardest thing in painting any portrait. A painting can be accurate in representation and still fail to capture the “essence” of the subject. The result is a dead looking painting. Unfortunately, I’ve painted my fair share of those.

Once in a while though, I do get it right. I remember one particular case where I was commissioned to paint the portrait of a dog. The dog had recently died and I was given a stack of family photos to use as reference material. The owners told me a bit about the dog’s personality, the things he would do, how he behaved, and even how he had died. They then left me with my task.
I wasn’t sure how much success I was going to have: I hadn’t even met the dog! Nevertheless, the portrait was painted and when I had finished it, I invited the dog’s owners back to studio to see and assess the results- I was expecting to do a lot of touch ups. I had set the painting up so that it was the first thing they would see when the walked in. They were surprised to the point of silence, and then openly wept. Somehow, and I’m not sure how, I had painted their dog.

What’s on the easel

One of the projects I’m working on in the studio right now is a commissioned portrait of a cocker spaniel. This dog, thankfully, is very much alive and I was able to take the photos myself, so I had the pleasure of meeting him. He’s quite a guy: funny and goofy and full of mischief. The owner came here this morning to decide on the final pose for the painting from the three preparatory drawings which I have just finished.

She has opted for the pose directly below, as she wanted a full body pose, but she loved the head study above so much that, as a kindness, I offered it to her as a gift. Happy owner, happy artist. Now I just have to do the painting!

Cocker portrait study-8×10, charcoal on paper ©2009 Alyson Champ

Cocker portrait study 2- 8×10, pencil on paper ©2009 Alyson Champ