Long Overdue

It’s a good thing that this blog isn’t a library book or I would be in some serious trouble. Yes, it has been a while.

Spring did finally happen here and summer has just begun. The crops are growing and our farm is bustling with activity. The studio has been a busy place, too.

This is the second year of my affiliation with Mackinac’s Little Gallery on the lovely resort of Mackinac Island, Michigan.

These are some new pieces which are available at the gallery:

“Arch Rock” 8 X 6 painted paper collage on panel
$245 US

“CYC Race to Mackinac” 10 X 10 painted paper collage on panel.
$325 US

“The Iroquois Hotel” 4 3/4 X 9 painted paper collage on panel.
$260 US
I am also very happy to announce my new affiliation with Solaris Gallery of Versailles, Kentucky. If you are in the Lexington, KY area, stop in and check out the beautiful, varied work.  Besides art, the gallery holds a bunch of regular events, including a philosophy club!
These equine collages are currently available at Solaris:
“Capture the Wind” 7 X 5 painted paper collage on panel.
$215 US

“Pinto” 7 X 5 painted paper collage on panel.
$215 US
And, of course, new work is also available on my website here
Later!

Horses and More Horses

Some new horse themed collages hot off the work table. The post parade at Saratoga is a favourite horsey subject of mine. I love the riot of colour that is Saratoga in the summer: the candy striped awnings,the lush green landscape, the flamboyant crowd of spectators, the jockeys’ vibrant silks.  And then, of course, there are the colours of the horses themselves: browns, blacks, bays, chestnuts, and- least common – the variety of greys.
“Three Greys and a Bay” 14 x 20 painted paper collage on cradle panel. Copyright  Alyson Champ 2013

“Three Greys and a Bay” detail


I had fun trying to capture the look and colour of the wet track with collage paper, let me tell you!


And speaking of colour, the inspiration for the above collage came to me from some reference photos taken by my friend and fellow artist, Kimberly Kelly Santini. Kim specializes in canine art, and she is one of the best colourists I have ever seen in any subject matter. If you are not familiar with her work, I encourage you to check it out. Click here.

The next collage was inspired by the Rolex Three Day Event in Kentucky. Eventing is a discipline which I find both amazing and frightening: amazing in the incredible versatility of both equine and human athlete; frightening because there are some seriously scary accidents- usually in the cross country. The collage below  depicts the calm, restrained beauty of dressage.

“In the Moment” 10 x 8 painted paper collage on cradled panel. Copyright Alyson Champ 2013
My husband kindly constructed a batch of 24 X 24 cradled panels for me to use as supports for new collages. So will it be more horses, or something else? Hmmm…..What do you think?

A Christmas Tale

This play appears in the current issue of Sheep Canada Magazine.

A Christmas Tale
A Play in one act

Cast of Characters:          
Flopsy – a ewe                                  
Dora – a ewe
                                        
Frank- a ram                                    
 Barn Cat
                                       
Floyd- a rooster                                 
Juliet- a ewe
The Ewe Chorus                               
 The Forgetful Farmer

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:                   Christmas.
Ewes:                   Christmas? 
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?
Ewes:                    Yes.
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 laughThen from across the barn-

Juliet:                    Hey, I heard that!!
Flopsy:                  Talking. What a strange idea. I wonder if it’s true … (pauses) …WaitDo you suppose 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. 
           
Cat:                        Mullible.
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.
Dora:     Where?
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.
Merry Christmas!

L’Artothèque

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.

Saratoga

Winter Blues
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.

Stewart Hall Art Gallery
176, chemin du Bord-du-Lac
Pointe-Claire, Quebec
Art Gallery Hours:
Monday through Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm
Wednesday 1pm to 9 pm
Free admission. Accessible by elevator.
tel. 514 630-1254

Along the English River

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”.

“Along the English River” 20×24 painted paper collage on panel ©2012 Alyson Champ

I am so pleased with the way this piece turned out that I have entered it in a juried exhibition in Montreal and also in an online international competition. Wish me luck!

P.S. In case you would like to know a bit more about this little spot on the map of this vast nation that is Canada, just click on the link here.http://quebecheritageweb.com/attraction/ch-teauguay-valley

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Studio

OK. 
So, first this happened.

Our massively disruptive (but necessary) foundation construction project.
Then this happened.

No, that’s not me, that’s my husband with a broken wrist and reconstructed shattered ankle putting him  in a wheelchair for six weeks. We are currently in week five.
And a whole lot of this happened.
And this.
And this.
So there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for this, 
Lac Masson – 12X9 painted paper collage on panel ©2012 Alyson Champ.
but I am working on correcting that!

Jacked Up?

In case you were wondering where I had gone…..

Spring House-jacking

I actually haven’t gone anywhere.  We had our spring lambing in March, and now, for April and May we are having our spring house-jacking. The lambing was more fun, even with the placenta. 

Our yard currently looks like the aftermath of the second battle of Ypres, many of the interior walls of the house are cracked, the plumbing leaks, the floors are cold, our cats have gone insane, and I get motion sickness in my own bedroom. And did I mention the all-too-frequent sight of construction workers urinating on our woodpile?  Well, there’s that, plus the noise and the dirt…..Let’s just say that studio time has been hard to come by lately, and leave it at that. 
However, I do have some very good news! Some of my collages have just been picked up by…

which is located on Mackinac Island, Michigan – 7410 Market Street, to be precise. The grand opening is May 12th, 2012, at noon. More details to follow- I promise! – as soon as we get back to solid ground.

An Unusual Job

I recently completed a commissioned painting which was an unusual project for a couple of reasons: first, the visual content was fairly different from the subjects I usually paint or collage; second, the support, or surface that the painting was painted on, was odd. This particular oil painting, featuring among other things, cars, milk cans and a large adjustable wrench, was painted on an antique saw blade. Here it is below, photographed in two sections while still in my studio.


Tannahill Transport #3 – saw blade showing the dairy transport and three generations.

This unusual painting was created for the Tannahill family and is one of a series of saw blades I have painted for them. The series constitutes a visual history of the family transport business, a business which has been in operation in this corner of Quebec for a very long time. In fact, my older brother used to drive for them years ago, so seeing one of those big, green Mack trucks coming up the road always made me happy when I was a kid.

Below is the first blade (in three sections), painted about seven years ago.


Tannahill Transport #1 – saw blade with older trucks,


a family portrait,

and newer trucks in the fleet.

Not long after completing that first blade, I was commissioned to paint a second one. I think this one is my favourite.

Tannahill Transport #2 in two sections.


I especially like this section. Can you guess why?


Thanks Brian T. for letting me stand on your coffee table to photograph these blades. It was great to see them all together for the first time, and fun for me as an artist to be part of such a nice family project. If you find another blade you want painted, you know where to find me!

You Never Can Tell

Studio Tour 2011 – all photos by the artist (that would be me!)

The 2011 edition of the Hemmingford Studio Tour is now a thing of the past. The signs have been stored for next year, the number of visitors tallied, and no doubt planning for the 2012 Tour will soon begin.
This year, I exhibited my work at Roxham Farm, which is the home studio of watercolourist Susan Heller. Roxham is a delightful place, a real old fashioned farm which dates back to the first half of the nineteenth century, and retains its antique charm.

Roxham Farm

Because I am a self-employed artist and a farmer, I really don’t get out much. The weekend of the Tour was a pleasant opportunity to talk with other artists about our different techniques and media, and to chat about the art market. In Sue’s barn, I shared wall space with Sue, John Hodges, and Helga Sermat.

Watercolours by John Hodges (in frame) and Susan Heller, along with some wool for sale.


Helga hanging her cards .

More of Helga’s colour pencil work.




Some of my set up.





And some ducks.

The Tour was also an opportunity for me to see people I almost never get to see or haven’t seen in years, and also the chance to meet all kinds of new people. You never know who will come out to a studio tour; it really takes all sorts. Of course there were some artists come to check us out, and I met some local farmers and people from the area, some Montrealers out for a day in the country, and a few Americans. I also met a statuesque,blond, Swedish masseuse (and her dog), and a man who had built a trebuchet. Yes a trebuchet: a forty foot high medieval siege engine capable of hurling a three hundred pound weight a distance of six hundred feet. Now, that’s your winner right there, I think.



Winter Blues

Winter Blues– 16×20 painted paper collage on panel ©2011 Alyson Champ
As much as part of me dreads the coming of winter, another (weird) part of me actually looks forward to it.
I usually start thinking about the winter sometime in July, and this pondering of the ice and snow generally manifests itself in some winter themed art.
Since I am full on into collage making now and am anxious to try it out on landscape “paintings”  and other subjects, fittingly the need to represent winter came out as a collage: Winter Blues.

When my daughter asked me why on earth I was making a winter picture in August, I could only answer, “Because I like to look at blue.” Go ahead and imagine the appropriate eye rolling.