Homage to the neighbor's very strange guinea hens. He has a whole flock of them, really strange looking birds that have an equally strange call, and can make quite a racket when they want to. I was getting my mail the other day and they followed me home. Chicken Master came out, yelled "get out of the street!", and they all hustled back onto the lawn. Honestly, it's a circus around our neighborhood these days. Or maybe Old MacDonald Farm time, as there are chickens (and a frenetic little rooster) all around me. Couple of goats, too. And then there are the turkeys who stroll by regularly. Sweet.
Some things are just easy, like this. I spent about an hour from start to finish, now think this is all she wrote, done. I think it is about being in the zone. Don't know how I got there, just really happy when it happens. And I got pretty much what I envisioned, though a couple of little accidents did something really special as I went along. Portraits of animals are just so engaging for me. I fall in love with every one of them, even the ones that don't succeed. Every one teaches me something valuable. Here I learned to look more deeply into my subject, but not complicate the work. Simple, but not flat. Sweet but not cute. Exaggerated in some places, understated in others, and that was pretty much about being on automatic pilot. HP guided my hand, for sure. Love it. Now. That could change after further perusal. I am nothing if not fickle.
Pickle is peeved. Even though we dodged this bullet for a long, long time, we got FLEAS. Nuts. And Pickle ate the fur off her rump, so off we went to the vet for a buttload of medications, for both the poopies. Pickle is not the trooper her big brother was. Boo would have worn that blasted collar for the rest of his life if I asked him to. But Pickle moped. I picked her up and put her outside. Half hour later, she was still sitting where I set her down. Sigh. And Punkin is so worried, he makes all kind of really obnoxious noises, sort of like the kind the smoke detector makes when its battery is dying, little supersonic bleeps that sear the eardrums. And he did this the whole first night of this ordeal, too. Really, he is just worried about his big sister. He sits by her and whines a lot, too. Keeping him in the bedroom with me just meant he could only bother ME. So, I let him sleep out in the general population last night so I could get some rest. Owies do heal, and the collar will go back into the closet for the next time. Just hoping it will be the Punk when it happens. Life would be a lot quieter. Meanwhile, major milestone, Pickle got herself, collar and all, out the dog door, and back in again. Small miracle, that.
I started out to do something esoteric and spare. It just got away from me! Is anyone surprised to know I absolutely LOVED fingerpainting as a kindergartener? Now, I pick up a palette knife, and it's off to the races. I don't worry any more whether it is art or not. It is if I say it is. And this is actually on canvas. I picked up a pad of canvas sheets, triple gessoed, at Blick to see if I liked it. And I do! I do!
It has been kind of a time of inertia here. Low physically, not going many places unless I am expected to show up there. Okay, Target, Costco and Trader Joe's do not expect me, but, gee, that is shopping. Ditto the art supply store. Need so many things you know. But, I digress. I signed up for a "sketching on the trail" at Pepperwood, my old stomping ground, this Sunday. Excited to get out the watercolor pencils again. Excited to be out in nature again. Excited to have even taken the step to sign up. I worry, you see. Am I good enough? Will I get something ARTFUL from this endeavor? Will someone curl his/her lip at me in artistic comtempt? Getting over myself even as we speak. It is what it is. There will always be SOMEONE who will think it is art, even if that someone is not me. And how can I improve unless I keep trying stuff? Okay. Off to try some stuff.
I spent my happiest hours of my youth on my grandparent's chicken ranch. There were five hen houses, one dedicated to the brooders that Gramps set up every spring for the new chicks. I didn't get to handle them nearly as much as I wanted, but I got to look at them a lot. So, shades of my childhood rose up and painted this little thingy, which is, of course, not done, but, gee, when are they ever? For the moment, I had a lot of fun and am now about to go back to do some abstracts, and, after perusing it some more, decide what still needs work on these little guys. This process, it is really tricky, you know. And how lucky am I to spend hours and hours doing it.
I reworked this piece, actually, something I hardly ever do. Body was too long, legs too short, some muddiness in the feathers, now all tidied up. And cannot decide if this is all okay or not. Definitely, this is not what I had in mind when I started. It just got all tight and kind of designy. Probably it is the acrylic paint. It waits for no one, not even the artist. I think I will stop thinking about this and just let it sit there, where it is what it is. Meanwhile, feeling really grateful for my two healthy fur persons while a dear friend is nursing her puppy back from parvo. Sometimes I feel that I should not be grateful because I am not suffering. Nuts to that. And I get to start another painting today.
I got an idea from the paintings I saw at the Center for the Arts last night, when my cow made its premiere on a foreign wall, to let my paintings be more primitive, less finished looking. So, I dippy-dabbed away and then quit. Some parts of this are as they were when I first put brush to canvas. Some have been refined, but only minimally. Don't know if that is okay, just know I like the looks of the finished product, kind of edgy and less sentimental. And these horses are not beautiful, though they have these windblown manes. I think they are elegant though, with those long, long noses. Some non-local color here and there, it all just seems to work in a less futzy, more artful way. I think. Oh, hell, I just like it.
There is a moment in the creation of a painting when it is fresh, virginal, and to go beyond that moment is to turn it into just another old painted whore. This one is not at its virginal prime yet. I managed to stop for now, so I can look at what needs more explanation or refining, without marring the looseness and elan I want to leave on the canvas. Yes, working on canvas again. It's a new world here in the little yellow house, one where there is a real artist in residence. Convinced that this is really my calling, and, with persistence, I will improve and become a minor but evident force in our local art world. Uh huh. Now off the the opening reception of the Salon Show, where the purple cow is gracing the wall. Oh, just get over myself!
The horse went north, the cow went west, both to be hung on public walls where erstwhile connoisseurs of our little community can mull over them, and maybe take them home to love them on THEIR wall. I stood in line with the other artists, just like I belonged there, both times. Said hello to a few I already know, got excited about the reception Friday night, and the big Art for Life event on Saturday. Gee, guess I am one of the guys, after all. And this weekend, a friend and I sojourned up the coast to Sea Ranch, where the affluent retire to this lovely community on the coast, to do their open studio event, and I saw a bunch of abstracts not unlike the ones I have been slapping away at lately. Maybe I am on to something? Like, frame them in shadowboxes and put a hefty price on them? I actually like mine a lot better than most that I saw, and got some dandy ideas, too. What a way to live this is. What grace.
Not only did I step WAY outside my comfort zone and join a local Center for the Arts (in my hometown, actually), where the artists are all de riguer and ever so edgy, but I am entering a show they are having next week. It is a Salon event, and they will be covering the walls floor to ceiling with paintings in a great mosaic of art. Members hang first, so we get the prime eye-level locations, and I will be there bright and early to hand my Cow Love piece which I created especially for this event. You see, I worried that my pastels would fade and get lost in the melee, so I wanted something you couldn't miss in the crowd. And now, I am worried that you can't miss it, and it is not up to snuff, and what was I thinking anyway? Ah, tender little artist ego. Frankly, no one went tsk tsk when I filled out my form and handed over my check to join this prestigious group of artists in a tiny podunk town in Northern California. I am a real artist, as far as THEY are concerned. Now to begin to believe it myself. Ready to sign it and send it forth hoping someone will fall in love with it. Of course, it is not exactly what I had in mind when I started it. Paintings often have their own ideas, you know. Love it when that happens.