Archive for October, 2009

This story is a very mild sort. (I feel a little bad for not giving you one of my more scary happenings, but I don’t want to freak anybody out too much. I should say our house was in general, very mild. Nothing like any of the movies out there. Mostly doors opening and closing, furniture moving, footsteps, lights, that sort of thing. Mostly.

So gather round. Get your popcorn and Halloween candy for snacking. Shut off the lights and just bask in the soft glow of your monitor.

Anyone got to go to the bathroom? Do it now. . . We’ll wait.

Also my dog Brutus is part of the story. Brutus was my boy. He passed away several years ago from a rare tooth cancer that despite several surgeries, the last one being at the Veterinary Labs in Ames we eventually had to euthanize him for.

He was a very special dog to me, who I miss even still. He was an extremely well trained yellow lab who would obey commands from great distances away. He always traveled with me because I knew he had my back. He proved this once by pinning some guy to a tree, who had been watching me. I found out later he was just released from prison. But that’s another story.

The Story
So I was staying with my mom because my father was in the hospital. This was something that happened several times a year as my dad was in poor health much of his life. I came without Mike but had brought Brutus along.

Anyway, we were sleeping upstairs in the guest bedroom (me and Brutus) which is at the top of the stairway. (There is no force on this earth that would get me to sleep in my own childhood bedroom, except maybe if the only alternative was my brother’s room. But once again, that’s another story.)

It was very late and I was awake because I never feel all that comfortable in that house. Brutus was in bed with me, on his back sound asleep and snoring.

I heard the stairs creaking like someone was coming up them. The house is over 100 years old and does creak and groan a lot. However, footsteps sound very different from those kinds of noises. The door was shut so I couldn’t see anything. I tensed and told myself the old house was just settling.

There was a soft scratching at the door. Very subtle. I strained to hear it and wondered if I imagined it. It happened again.

Scritch scratch. Brutus woke up and rolled over and looked at the door.

Scritch scratch. Brutus began growling low and deep.

Scritch scratch. He flung himself off the bed and shoved his nose under the door crack snuffling and growling. His hackles were on end all the way down to his tail and he starts roaring and barking madly. He’s snarling and snapping along the bottom trying to get through to the other side.

I’m totally freaking and trying to quiet the dog because it’s the middle of the night and mom’s stressed because dad’s in the hospital, so she really needs her rest. But he was going crazy and wouldn’t be quieted.

Brutus starts scratching at the door. I was worried he would tear up the carpet, so I opened the door. He rushed through barking and snarling. Down the stairs into the dining room, through the kitchen until he hit the laundry room door which was closed.

He continued to bark and growl and snuffle along the bottom of the door a bit. But I was able to calm him some. Mom woke up (of course.) And we talked about what had happened. Brutus and I spent the remainder of the night downstairs. Actually we spent the remainder of the visit sleeping downstairs. You know I don’t think Brutus ever really liked visiting the folks after that. He was always just a little out of sorts there.

That’s it. Nothing else to say about it. We didn’t see anything, though we rarely do. Just a lot of sounds and occasionally . . . something else.

Want Another One?

Again this is a very mild story with the same players, same place.

Me, Mike and Brutus were up in the guest bedroom. Mike is a early riser so he got up slightly before dawn and went downstairs.

Which for those of you who don’t know a kong is a dog toy made out of plunger like rubber. It squeaks and pops when chewed on.

I am not a early riser, so I roll over and attempt to get a little more sleep in. Brutus usually climbs in bed with me right after Mike gets up but this time I hear Brutus chewing on his kong under the bed. Squeaky, squeaky, squeaky is not really conducive for sleeping.

I grumble “Brutus” which is usually all I ever need to say, because he always seemed to just know what I want.

SIlence for a few minutes. Then squeak, squeak, pop over by the closet.

Me getting annoyed “Brutus, knock it off”

more silence, almost enough for me to fall asleep.

Squeaky, squeaky, pop. Only this time it was up by the ceiling. (thaaat’s right)

I open my eyes, the room is well lit by this time and I roll over to the edge of the bed and look under it. (It’s a very old bed that stands well up off the floor.)

No Brutus. In fact no Brutus anywhere in the room. He had left with Mike.

Honestly I don’t remember if I got up or not. That kinda thing really isn’t enough to scare me. It’s almost like a practical joke on their part. (whoever they may be) Anyway, there was no more noises after I discovered I was alone in the room.

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Here’s yet another little known fact about me.
There are people who have known me for decades who don’t know this about me.

And the thing they don’t know? I grew up in a . . . okay, I’m not going to say a “haunted house.” I really don’t know what is up with that old house. What I do know is really freaky stuff was always happening (and still does) and many people besides our family have experienced something . . . odd while in it. Frankly I think having grown up in it was a major reason I have such an interest in all the various world religions. But then again maybe not.

I rarely tell anyone about it for two reasons.
1. I don’t think about it much, except for this time of year, or when I go home to visit or during periods of great stress (and then I have bad dreams.)
2 People form opinions about you that are in general, not good. I mean unless someone has had similar experiences, they tend to think you’re making it up for attention or you’re crazy.

So why mention it now. I’m not sure. The Halloween spirit I suppose. Though even as I am typing this I am seriously pondering deleting it all. I want to say that I have not had any issues anywhere else that I have lived. The museum I worked for was supposed to be haunted and I never experienced anything there. So it’s just my family home that gives me the heebee jeebees. Awesome.

At any rate, I will post my ghost story in the early evening. Just about haunting time. Have a great Halloween!!!

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As a long time gallery cat, Budda has generously agreed to answers your art and/or cat related questions around the first of every month.

Dear Mr Budda,
I am planning on decorating for Halloween. How long will Oil Pastel last on the outside of a brick building?
Signed Greasy Bricks.

Dear Greasy Bricks
I don’t actually know, but if it sticks to brick anything like it sticks to the gallery floor, it will last a long, looonnnng time.

Oh great and wise Budda,
Recently a black cat crossed my path. Are black cats really unlucky?
Signed Superstitious in Seattle

Dear Superstitious,
No, black cats are not unlucky. Well . . . not unless you’re the black cat.

I have it on good authority (from a woman who works at one of the top ten animal shelters in the nation) that black cats are far harder to adopt out. Their features aren’t as easy to see but also people have foolish superstitious notions.

I have a proud heritage and come from a long line of distinguished black cats. At one time, my birth farm was almost all black cats (about 13 of them I think.) And just look how lucky my human is. I am pretty sure she thanks her lucky stars everyday for having the gift of me in her life.

As always, those of you who are googling for enlightenment . . . this ain’t it.

Dear Mr. Budda,
Do dogs and cats believe in an afterlife?
Curious About Kitty

Dear Curious,
Cats do, but dogs don’t. Now I know what your thinking. But before you start judging me as a speciest, I’ll explain why I believe dogs aren’t as self aware as we cats.

Dogs have spent the last thousand years or so becoming “man’s best friend” (I really hate that moniker) through hard work and obedience. All that herding of livestock and retrieving of sticks have left them no time for deep introspective thought. I mean really, they spend all their free time at the feet of their humans waiting for their next command. . . and drooling.

Ummm . . . yeah. . . Anyway, since we cats shun both hard work and obedience, we have a lot of free time to just ponder the mysteries of the universe and our place within it.

Recently L. from Iowa wrote,
I wonder what advice Budda has for an artist to cat-apult to success, and what “success” might mean to Budda.

Dear L,
As I stated in the previous question we cats avoid work at all costs. So success to me is enjoying the simple pleasures in life. A full tummy, a warm spot in the sun and someone to love and be loved in return.

How does a human achieve their own personal artistic goals for success? Bliss through toil baby. Bliss through toil.

Note: these “questions” were based on search terms that brought people to my blog as well as reader questions. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. If anyone has any questions they’d like to submit for Budda’s review, you are all welcome to do so. Just leave a comment here or contact me directly

If you want a couple of Halloween stories to tell to your “kitties” here’s a couple of my favorite blog stories about me.

“Boo”dda the Naughty kitten
Tale (or is it tail?) of the Slap Happy Kitty

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Strength & Glory– Percheron Team
Original Oil Pastel Painting
19 x 29

Well . . . as official as anything can be a year away from the event. Let’s just say a booth has been reserved with my name on it. Um . . . well actually with Carol Herden’s name on it. (but you know, it’s kinda the same thing.)

My good friend and bovine/equestrian artist extrandinaire, Carol Herden and I will once again be sharing a booth with our equine (in this case Percheron and draft) art at the 2010 World Percheron Congress in Des Moines, Iowa. This is our second artistic (ad)venture together. You may recall our trip to the Kentucky Horse Park for Breyerfest 08.

At any rate I am excited. Mostly because the idea of spending a horsey week with a friend is one of my favorite things to do. I am not thinking this is going to be a money maker. (Mostly because people aren’t coming to these kinds of events to buy art.) But it is certainly going to be loads of fun.

I plan on packing both cameras (digital and film.) Despite having many thousands (yes, that’s literally thousands) of Percheron reference photos, my motto is “one can never have enough.”

Upcoming Posts

I know I need to post my Frieisan painting but I’m soooo close to being done, I keep putting off posting it, because I want to post it as done. Not as really, really close to done.

So tomorrow will be Ask The Budda (Halloween edition) And on Halloween I may post a ghost story of my own. Or I may just delete it as a bad, bad idea.

But after that, my horse painting will be done. I know this for a fact because my deadline for the next Apples ‘N Oats issue is November 1st.

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And I turn one year older. And except for Budda we are all showing our age.

I would tell you my actual age (I may have already somewhere on this blog) but I’m feeling a little paranoid about handing out that kind of info on-line.

I have never been ashamed of my age. I figure it’s a miracle I’ve lived this long, (yes, death has tried to take me more than once) so I’m grateful. I like to think of all this gray hair as highlights. (ooh it’s so sparkly) I mean women pay good money to have that done . . . don’t they?

My brother who is four years my senior (and has a birthday this month as well) says it’s a sign of hard livin’. (not to mention our genetics) He recently had someone complement him on his good-looking grand kids. And yes you guessed it . . . they were his kids, nothing grand involved.

A huge thanks to Brenda from Sioux Land Bricks for helping us get bricks that were almost a perfect match to our building.

The gallery building is showing her age a bit as well. I’ve been here 9 years but the building is nearly 100. Mike has been hard at work tuck-pointing her. (That’s where the mortar gets scraped out and replaced.) A hugely time consuming job. But it will be good to fix a few cracks in the bricks before winter sets in.

Old buildings like this need a lot of love. But they have so much more character than new construction. Most of the visitors we have come in and touch all the old woodwork. And oh and ah. Which is almost always followed by the question “Was this a bank?”

We recently went through a bunch of old postcards showing Rolfe in the 1910-1930 era’s. None of them had a good view of our building. I’ve heard a rumor that someone in town has a early photo of our place back when it was a car dealership, which is what it was built to be. Oddly enough it had a bunch of Ford tractors parked out front.

I got a little off topic there. I’m easily distracted. So anyway, Happy Birthday to all of us. The business, the Budda and me.

PS Next post will hopefully be of a finished horse painting.

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So it’s Saturday morning and I’m looking forward to a full day of working on this painting. Followed by Sunday. I am probably being overly optimistic, but I am hoping to just about finish it off by the end of the weekend.

Tall, Dark and Seriously Handsome
Frieisans are one of my favorite breeds. Yeah, I know I’m totally alone in this.

Any one who likes horses . . . even a little, likes Friesians. Anyone who is a romantic. . . even a little, likes Friesians. But they really do have all the attributes I admire in horses. They have size. In general they have great temperaments. They’re black. (Ever since I read Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion that has been the color of choice for me.) They have unbelievable hair. Seriously what’s not to love?

And the Friesian that sealed the deal for me being a fan was when I met Nero at the MN Horse Expo many years ago. Since then I have come to know many wonderful Friesian horses, but Nero still holds a special place in my heart.

The handlers were so giving of their time with Nero and the public. The thing that instantly impressed me was how calm and dignified he was in the mayhem that is the expo. He was always surrounded by groups of people reaching out and petting him.

People I think forget what an amazing thing that is. Here you are in a foreign place with hundreds of horses and thousands of people. And here is this stallion completely calm, while total strangers are touching him (I’m sure often in places he’d prefer he wasn’t touched) and there’s chaos all around. I mean a stallion for Pete’s sake. Often times someone was on him bareback with only a halter and lead.

To be clear, there are other stallions that do as well, but also plenty who don’t.

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Here’s the latest.
His neck is looking a little weird and wrinkly here, which is how it is in the reference photo (which I will be posting as soon as I take the time to scan it in.) I will be making it more subtle once I get my mane in. Or eliminating it all together if it still bothers me.

I have somewhere around 20 different colors used in my horse’s coat color with very little black. The majority of my base coat is done in Ink Tense Deep Indigo and Dark Chocolate with a little Derwent Rexal Blue Gray. I’m not really relying heavily on any one brand of WC Pencil here. I’m using Ink Tense, Derwent Rexel, Faber Castell and Prismacolor.

His coat is made up of various shades of violet, indigo, and cocoa-y earthy colors. I’m using the browns to offset the unreality of the violets. Mike says I should leave my horse purple and blue. He’s all “What’s that you always say? . . . Let’s not quibble over reality.” I think the deciding factor in how realistic the horse gets portrayed will depend heavily on the background.

Black horses are rarely black. (But then nor are they all that often purple.) About the only time a horse stays black is if it is kept in the barn, sometimes for the express purpose of doing so. (Which I have serious problems with. But perhaps if I were a breeder I’d think differently.) Otherwise they fade in the sun (just like everything else.)

Photo Right is of my tracing. (It shows up better than my drawings in photos) I included it so you could get an idea of where this is all going. The plan is to have the mane flying every which-a-way,

I am so glad I discovered this tracing off my drawings. I may have not figured it out for doing suede had I already not been doing it for the handmade paper.

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Recently, at the art talk one of the members surprised me. I should preface this by saying I may have annoyed her because she opened the conversation with, My name is . . . and I was the one who asked you to come here and talk several years ago and you said “No it was too far.” Ummm . . .yeah. She wanted me to come and talk about my artwork. At that time I always believed my art should speak for itself. This time I was coming to talk about my business . . . and that’s totally different. (This was of course pre-blog. Now all I do is talk about my art.)

I burst out laughing because I’m easily amused and I tend to laugh inappropriately, but mostly because I was surprised she would think that I should feel bad about myself because some other artist was achieving some success.

Anywho, she mentioned she first saw me at an event where this other local wildlife artist was also showing. She then began telling me all about how much press this other woman was getting. I know this artist, though not as well as I know her sister, who is also an excellent wildlife artist. I listened intently as she went on about all of this artist’s honors and write-ups in newspapers and magazines. I nodded and smiled and said I was glad for her (and i was.)

And then she reached out and patted my arm and said with a you-poor-dear look on her face “But you’ve done well for yourself too.”

I burst out laughing because I’m easily amused and I tend to laugh inappropriately, but mostly because I was surprised she would think that I should feel bad about myself because some other artist was achieving some success.

I said “I know I have . . . (looking her in the eye and holding a pause) but thank you.”

The incident got me to thinking. Why is the mindset that if someone else succeeds then you lose, so prevalent? Especially in the arts? Sports I can see. You progress by being better than everyone else. As an artist though, you progress by doing continually better work and getting people to connect with it. Whether they connect with your neighbor’s work is irrelevant to your success.

Why is the mindset that if someone else succeeds then you lose, so prevalent?

Collaborative Economy
So I just agreed to a joint venture with a photographer friend who is opening a studio in a neighboring town. She wanted to offer framing but wants no part in the actual doing of it. So I’ll set her up with some samples, she works with the clients, I place the order and frame them, she delivers. It’s win win. She offers a convenient service for her customers, I get extra framing work. Plus I give her a kick-back. (um . . . I bet it’s called a commission.) At any rate I already have this sort of situation with two other locations. One is an artist and one is an interior decorator.

I have long been in the practice to offer my friends up for services I don’t provide. I take on very few portraits (and then only horses) For everything else including people who don’t want to wait or pay my prices I hand them over to someone who does the job well and in a timely manner. One of my dearest friends is an equestrian artist (Barb McGee) locally that I have sent people out my gallery door off to hers. I also have a couple of other artists who I hand their cards out, in addition to Barb’s. One of whom is Angela Finney.

I know all the frame shop owners in the area by name and have sent work to them when I couldn’t do what was needed. (mostly over-size work.)

As an artist you progress by doing continually better work and getting people to connect with it. Whether they connect with your neighbor’s work is irrelevant to your success.

Could I possibly lose these people I send on, as a customer? (Client, Patron take your pick) Yes. But to me it is more important for them to can get what they need done, than to hold onto them out of selfishness, greed or insecurity.

Okay so here’s the thing. Many of the artists (including Barb) and shops in the area, send people to me as well. And that my dears, is my definition of a collaborative economy and how because of it, we better all our chances for achieving success.

What is success anyway?

It’s completely different for everyone. Personally, success is paying my bills while doing something I really enjoy. AND (here’s the part I need to get too) having enough free time to explore my other loves like my horse and the outdoors.

If Barb becomes an unbelievably wealthy equine artist, it will have very little effect on whether I achieve my personal success goals.

I would love to hear from any of you who wants to share your personal idea of what success means to you or any incidents regarding success, competition or how you participate in a collaborative economy, Please comment.

I apologize for the length of this post but when I chopped it in two, it just didn’t make as much sense.

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I’m not sure this really needs a step by step but there are a few things I’ve learned that may be useful to someone. I perhaps should have waited to do this on something other than a black horse. But here we are.

This painting is done a crescent matboard C7101 Perle.

Step 1: (Photo Left: Bottom of jaw) Color is lightly scribbled in DRY. If you press too hard you may mar the suede. You can apply color densely, just do it with minimal pressure.

Step 2: Apply water. (Photo Left: bulk of face) I’ve been using a Q-tip to do this, since it holds more water than a brush and yet no too much. Work quickly to allow for a smooth absorption so when it’s dry there will be no hard edges.

Remember Suede absorbs and pulls (wicks) moisture and color onto dry areas. So apply water to outline areas carefully.

Step 3: Wait until area is completely dry. (bottom right photo) Then you can begin working the area with either another layer of wash or the dry detail work. Since this is a black horse. I tried to keep my color mid-range so I could go lighter and darker with ease.

A Question
Something I’m considering doing for this painting is creating a covering for the background part. WC Pencil does dust some and will transfer. Again since this a dark horse I certainly don’t want it to dust onto my negative space, which will eventually become a soft blue/green background. I’m thinking some sort of low tack paper to create a mask to protect my negative space.

Has anyone ever done this? I’m thinking CP artists working on velour paper, but anyone who may have tried this or something else. (I pondered a workable fixative but I’m dubious)

I’d love to hear if anyone has created a barrier and if it was successful.

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So here’s my latest effort.
This painting is yet unnamed (not even a working title yet) and is once again done on suede board.

I really like the look of suede, but I am torn about using it, since so far it has been a little moody to work with when it comes to profiling it for prints. (Mike, says the suede’s fine, that I’m the one who’s moody.)

Um . . . Anywho, my last couple of pieces didn’t profile as well as I would have liked. The prints look fine (perhaps a tad darker than the original) but it was a real effort to get there. Sometimes that’s just the way of things. But it may have to do with the suede being so dimensional. In real life the light gets captured in depths of the fibers that doesn’t reproduce in print.

In case it is the later, I am working on a lighter shade of suede to see if that helps. I am kinda counting on it actually because I just invested $80 in 3 sheets of the stuff. (and they’re not really colors I use in framing) My two other pieces in the works to go on suede are a giraffe painting and a portrait of Alborozo. (Though I imagine I can’t legally call it his portrait. It will just have to be “inspired” by Big Al.)

Cross Breeding
This painting kinda looks like the love child between my Natural Grace oil pastel painting and my portrait of Catch done in water color pencil. Which is all good because both are extremely popular sellers and you got to feed those that feed you. Meaning give the people what they want or shut it if you’re not selling.

Okay, okay . . . I’m getting off my soap box now. (I’m feeling feisty today)

At any rate Natural Grace was all about design, while Catch was all about. . . well . . . Catch. This one however is going to be all about the hair.

My inspiration for this was my recent trip out photographing the Percheron brood mares. With all their lovely, floaty manes blowing in the breeze. My actual reference photo however was from my horse safari trip to Noble Friesians last fall. This was one of their young stallions making tracks away from me when he discovered my camera was not a giant horsey treat.

Sundays are a day of rest.

Since it’s Sunday, I have the whole day to work on it. Which is good because even though it was a few short months ago since my last wc pencil on suede, I seem to have forgotten how to work it and needed a little time for a refresher.

I am wearing the same horse slobber stained sweatshirt as last Sunday (It happens to be my favorite) I did however put on makeup and jeans after last Sundays humiliation. I can’t put my DO NOT DISTURB sign out because Mike is working on the front of the gallery and thus takes away all power from the sign. We shall see what comes of it.

Note: I haven’t quite figured out where I’m going to crop. The board I’m working on is 21×32. The painting however will be much closer to 20 x 20

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