Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hot Turkey Sandwiched

If I were a more hip, city dwelling artist, I might have a studio in an old warehouse or abandoned factory. Instead, as I am decidedly un-hip and rural, I have a studio in a converted garage on our farm. My studio has our barn on one side and backs onto the chicken run. It also features a spectacular view of the sheep pasture and our compost bin. No Brooklyn artist's loft for me! But it has good light (most of the time) and is quiet enough and big enough to make it a pleasant workspace. Believe me, I'm not complaining.

At the moment, my studio is less remarkable for what is on the outside than for what is on the inside. It has become a bicycle storage area and a makeshift plant nursery. I have also taken on some roommates. Now, if I were a Brooklyn hipster and I told you my roommates were turkeys, you would probably think that they were other artists who didn't clean up after themselves, or who didn't pay their share of the rent on time. But since I live on a farm, if I were to tell you that I'm sharing my studio space with a bunch of turkeys, you can safely assume that they are actually turkeys, and not just people of the sort who would eat your last ice cream bar and then lie about it.


Turkey poults. Photo by the artist

I'm not sure what to make of these turkeys. They look a lot like chickens and they kind of act like chickens....except for some subtle differences. They are gawky little creatures, curious and uncoordinated, and they have large, grey, ever watchful eyes.

When I decided to raise turkeys this year, many people warned me about the fragility of turkeys and their inherent stupidity:

"They will get into the waterer and drown in it!"

"They will be too stupid to find their food or water and will starve to death or die of dehydration!"

"Don't let them outside in the rain. They will drown themselves by looking up!"

And so on.

There are plenty of wild turkeys around here and I have yet to find groups of them drowned following a downpour, so how stupid can they be? For these little domestic turkey poults of mine, time will tell, I guess. Until their permanent pen is ready, they will continue to live in a big box in my studio. They have food and water and a heat lamp for warmth, and me for company during the day. I think I'm going to miss my fluffy little roomies when they move out. I certainly won't miss the plants and bicycles- those are just in my way!

Tomato and cabbage seedlings. Photo by the artist.

What's on the easel

I have recently completed another Well Dressed Dog collage. The subject of this one is my good
friend Brenda Castonguay's dog, Sisi. Here she is:

Sisi's Coat of Many Colours- 6x8 painted paper and fabric collage on panel, ©2011 Alyson Champ

Apart from being Sisi's mommy, my friend Brenda is a fabulous photographer, who specializes in intimate, creative, family portraits. Check out her work here. And yes, in case you were wondering, many of my friends are photographers.....or turkeys.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shh...It's a Secret!

Yikes! No posts in over a month! Things tend to get a little crazy on the farm once spring rolls around and whatever time I have when I'm not out in the barn, I have been spending in the studio. Yes, I have been busy creating, but no, not really too busy to blog. The lack of blog updates had more to do with the nature of the work than with a lack of time.

A couple of months back I got an email from an old friend I first met in art class back in high school. My friend, Tracy Martin, and her siblings wanted to commission a collage from me to give to their mother on her birthday. The collage was to be a surprise and Tracy's mom reads this blog (Hi Tracy's mom!) so no posting images of the work in progress on the blog. Now the collage is finished and delivered, the birthday surprise has come and gone, and I am free to show what has kept me busy for the past month.


"Blue Heron" - 20x24 painted paper collage on panel ©2011 Alyson Champ

"Blue Heron" - detail

This collage was something of a challenge owing to its size - 20x24 inches- and my increasing predilection for detail . Also, I really wanted to do justice to the reference photo which was supplied by Tracy, a professional photographer of considerable talent. It isn't everyday that I get to use such beautiful photography as a starting point. If you would like to see the original photo, it can be found on Tracy's blog, Photo Sage. I hope you'll spend some time looking through the photo archives. If you do, your effort will be richly rewarded, and you will find a multitude of images which are not only visually gorgeous, but which are also deeply moving. I encourage you to check it out. Tracy also has a more formal website, just click here.