Archive for May, 2009

Out To Pasture

Well I finally got my Fat Boy out on pasture. I’ve spent over 3 weeks waiting for the grass to age and getting his gut adjusted and today was the day.

I left my camera behind, because of last years lacking performance. Follow along as I take you back about 1 year. There I was, camera in hand, anxiously anticipating his full blown glee, with much galloping and bucking. Only to be disappointed as he sedately munched his way around without so much as a squeal of joy.

So of course this year with no camera to document it, he performed a perfect re-enactment of a wild mustang roundup. Complete with a full tilt gallop and ending with a charge accompanied by much snorting and tossing of his wind blown hair. (heavy sigh)

The above photo was a bit later and a good example of what I got last year.

The latest painting

As it is Sunday I came in to work on my latest cow painting. Make that start my latest cow painting. Turns out the fixative was not sufficient. It helped but still was inadequate. So I retraced my drawing over onto an older sheet of handmade paper. Alas I haven’t gotten very far with it and frankly I think I may have bitten off a little more than is humanly possible, since I leave for my first art fair of the season in a few short days. When I make some progress on it, I’ll post what I’ve done.

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Critter Problems (again)

So I have once again fallen a bit on the quiet side on the blog. For the past 2 weeks I’ve been pulling 9-10 hours days at the gallery, 6 days a week (with a few more on Sundays for good measure.) I am soooo not complaining. Just shocking how quickly the weeks are moving by. As a result I have also not been able to try out my fixative theory. Perhaps tomorrow as I feel like I once again have handle on my work load.

So as to the critter problems
I’ve noticed our barn cats getting a little thin. It is summer so they shed out, but still they were not as plump as I like my cats to be. I increased the food (and I don’t feed out the generic stuff either) and they remained the same. So yesterday after chasing off a skunk in the front yard, I go do the cats. Then I head out and extend the grazing area for Chicory (he is still not free to graze to his hearts content. Probably by Sunday though, he will) then walk back into the barn to replug in the electric fence. And what do I find? A big boar coon hoarking down catfood as fast as he can, while my hungry cats glare balefully at him.

So I chase him off as well and tell Mike. The result is Mike asking his dad to borrow the rifle. We don’t actually have a gun. Well that’s not quite true. We have my grandfather’s gun which Mike grumblingly refers to as “the cannon.” We have always been a live and let live kind of farm. I really dislike racoons. They can spread disease, but more to the point they kill chickens and just tear up stuff (like shingles) for the fun of it. Other than live trapping (and setting them free far, far from home) we have pretty much just allowed them to be,

But it appears our “at one with nature” time has come to an end. Skunks, coons and badgers beware.

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Memorial Day In A Small Town

Seeing as it is a holiday weekend I was able to come in and work a little in the gallery undiscovered. (meaning doors locked, vehicle in the garage, etc) I am allowed to revert to my natural state of hermitage.

I did (or rather we did) however partake in a couple of the festivities. Last night there was a dinner dance at the RAM Event Center (used to be the high school gym) and the Al Welsh Orchestra was playing. They are a 40’s swing type group. And yes the style was more than a few decades before I was born, but it was still great fun. No I did not dance. (neither Mike or I know how to ballroom dance) I did very much enjoy watching everyone else though.

The other activity in which I was in the public was a luncheon served at the Lutheran Church, as a fund raiser for the VFW. Again Mike and I enjoyed ourselves. Though my anti-social nature breathed a sigh when I came into the cool quiet gallery afterwards.

An Epiphany
So I had a thought about my handmade paper. As you may remember all the sheets I made over Christmas didn’t work because I didn’t add enough sizing. So my thought was to try applying some fixative spray in hopes that it would add just enough strength to the paper’s surface.

I will find out tomorrow. I drew out my next little painting and will give it whirl. If it doesn’t work I will just use one of my older sheets. I must say I’m kinda excited, though I think it has more to do with my new subject and it’s color.

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"Soul" Horse Painting Completed

Well almost.
I’m down to the tweaking stage anyway.

Water soluble pencil on Suede Board
13″ x 19 1/2″

“It is not so much about whether horses have a soul, as it is that horses are soul.”

I’m still playing with the forelock but I’m getting close. The problem with Chicory is he is a different color at any given moment. He is officially (as in registered as) a red dun. His mane is made up of every color hair imaginable but overall will look black or chestnut or occasionally sorrel depending on the lighting. As a result my painting’s forelock has undergone all of those color transformations as well. I am not quite settled in my color yet.

The other big change from the last work in progress shot was I took an inch off the top of the painting. His eyes were just a little too close to center. I like the balance I got from cropping it.

Even though I am running out of time before my first art event of the season, (like in 2 weeks) I’m looking forward to starting something new. Probably an oil pastel and possibly something that goes “moo.”

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Untitled Foal Painting
13″ x 16 1/2″
Watercolor Pencil on Suede

Self Imposed Rules

I still haven’t come up with any title for my foal painting. And I really need to, since I plan to make prints soon.

I have a couple of self imposed guidelines for titles.
1. Be succinct. 3 words maximum, if it can be said with less even better.
2. If it doesn’t add to the story of the painting, don’t bother.

Robert Sloan suggested “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon.” Which I really like the feel of and have been playing a bit with. Like: Lazing I also thought about Dozing or Nappy (not quite right as it’s not really looking sleepy) so lazing is definitely the best descriptor.

I also thought about
Baby Face (too cute)
Bran’ Spankin’ New (I really liked this one, but since this isn’t a new born foal it doesn’t really fit.)

If it had been a Paint Horse foal I would have all sorts of clever possibilities with word play. Ah well.

I do have some unnamed originals, you know like Blue Rhino or some such descriptive thing which suffices for keeping track of which image is which. But when it comes to being printed on the print it really needs to be something greater than “foal painting.”

Once again anyone with any ideas, let me know.

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Horse Portrait WIP

It is another rainy Sunday, so I am spending it in the gallery. I am hoping to finish up Chicory’s portrait, Soul today. I don’t think it will happen, but I should get really quite close.

This photo is from my starting point today, meaning today’s progress will be shown tomorrow or shortly thereafter. He was getting a little orange looking so I burnished in some pewter color.

At the moment I am putting in the forelock (not shown here) which is resembling a bad toupee. It is an act of courage to cover up all the forehead that I spent so much time on. I imagine if I had planned out in advance where the forelock would fall I would avoid this. On the other hand, by working in this way, it lets me run hair over the finished head and helps prevent that cut and paste look that can happen so easily when working in sections.

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I’m finally getting around to finishing up this post. As usual what started out as a small idea spun into something big and complicated. This time I chose to cut it back to two main ideas, instead of my usual half a dozen posts. Today’s post will deal with the first point which deals with image quality. The second point will be addressed in an upcoming post.

So what are the two most important thoughts (as in: what will get me approved) in regards to filling out art fair applications?
1. Submit good images. Scratch that. Submit the best darn images you can create, both artistically and in the reproducing true to the original.
2. Words have power. Be able to write a personal statement intelligently and succinctly, as well as describe your work to it’s best advantage.

That’s it. You manage to do those two little things well, your chances for acceptance just went way up. Remember, the bigger the event, the more important this becomes.

“You may well say to yourself This is good enough to give them an idea of my work. Sure it’s a little blurry, but surely they can see that I have talent.” While this may be true, you are competing against other artists . . . So in the end, the jury will go with the ones who put in the effort.

Submit quality images

Most applications have gone digital either with Zapplication or just by taking digital files via cd. I think I had only one event this year who wanted slides only. Many will take slides yet, but charge you an additional fee to transfer them into a digital file.

It seems to me that this is a bad idea. Being an artist, I understand that most of us really don’t want to be bothered and hey, the event is offering to do that pesky chore for us. But here’s the thing, you are relying on someone else to copy your image, who really doesn’t care if the scan they took off your slide looks anything like your slide color-wise. They have perhaps hundreds more to do and just want to finish up on this task. Most raw scans need color correction and I’d bet dollars to donuts, no one does that part for the nominal fee they charge. So do it yourself if at all possible.

What constitutes a good quality image.
1. Clarity. No fuzziness or blurry areas. Also no shadows or glare.
2. Color is true to the original. Too light or dark is not acceptable.
3. Image Only. No framing, matting, glazing. (or fingers, grass, carpeting. You get the idea.)The nice thing about digital files is this is easy to crop out.
4. Image is square. This means the image is not crooked or fading off into the distance on one end.
5.Your best work only. You will be judged on your weakest work guaranteed. Most applications take 3-4 images. If you have 3 outstanding pieces and one so-so piece. It is the so-so piece that will determine your entrance into the event.

When done, these 5 things show the jury that you are a professional and care about your art. You may well say to yourself “This is good enough to give them an idea of my work. Sure it’s a little blurry, but surely they can see that I have talent.” While this may be true, you are competing against other artists who have done all 5 things to create a great representation of their work. So in the end, the jury will go with the ones who put in the effort.

In the end
It is understandable if creating good digital images is not your thing. But if you want to get into bigger and better events you need to either take on the challenge and learn it, or hire a good photographer. Much like framing, this is all about you showing your work to it’s best advantage.Which in turn speaks to your professionalism.

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Horse Portrait Progress

Here is the progress so far. His face looks a little wonky as I have yet to fully sort out the highlights and shadows (especially on the left.) I have to put in the neck area before those decisions are made. Also I think his marking being off center throws it all a bit. We’ll see how it ends up in a day or so. (That’s my overly optimistic estimation of how long until I can complete this piece.)

I was unable to post yesterday due to thunderstorms rolling through the area. This has been pretty much a daily occurrence now for a couple of weeks.

Unfortunately all this rain and lightening is also slowing the progress of getting my pasture fence completed. Nothing says death wish more than walking through an open grassy expanse where the tallest object is me carrying an armload of metal poles in a thunderstorm.

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Moving Over To The Dark Side

Okay, I am such a sci-fi geek that I couldn’t resist.

I got a little anxious to work in some darker values so I slipped over to the shadow side of his face today. Though I currently have only the base coat in on this side, I am looking forward to the richer colors of the dark side.

I am chin deep in framing, I have my first art event in a couple of weeks and have yet to check my inventories and prepare for it. The gallery is in serious need of a complete cleaning. And I blissfully ignored it all today and just worked on my horse painting. Ahhhhh.

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Chicory's Horse Portrait

So here it is after a few more hours on Sunday afternoon. I know it doesn’t really look like a lot of progress has been made, but bear in mind this is just about life sized.

I am looking forward to starting the right side. It will be the shadow side so I can play with some richer colors and also add contrast.

The grapevines of wrath
My morning was spent pulling well established (like over 10 year old ) grape vines out of incredibly old (like 70 year old) barbed wire fence. It will be a miracle if I don’t get Tetnus. These things are like trees, except the are all twisty and gnarly and grown into the fence. The fence and the vines have officially become one.

I tried to convince my husband that the smart thing to do would be to drop in new posts a few feet from the old fence line. He didn’t agree. So we spent the morning, hack saw in hand, cutting and pulling and occasionally swearing.

All the while Chicory was watching, head held high, stone statue still. Except every few minutes he would spin around, squeal and buck. Then take off in a gallop around his paddock. Only to charge the fence and do a rolling stop any reining champion would be proud of. Upon which he would resume his statue pose while giving me the eye. All of this equine drama was his way of saying “let me the heck out there with you guys!”

I took a break and came in to the gallery today to work on my Soul portrait. But rest assured I have a full evening of viney entertainment ahead of me.

By the way, we use an electrified rope for Chicory’s pasture fence that is run well inside of the barbed wire. But if we didn’t remove the grapes, they would short out the fence.

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