Friday, November 21, 2014

Some Exciting News and Some New Work

I was asked earlier in the year to submit some images of my work and brief descriptions of how I go about making my collages for possible inclusion in a book on drawing techniques. The book's author is renowned UK  artist and art blogger Katherine Tyrrell. Obviously I was very flattered to be chosen, as I have been a huge fan of her blog for years, but I didn't want to say anything about it just in case I didn't make the final cut, so I put the whole thing out of my mind. 

Now I am very happy to announce that I did indeed make the cut and some of my work found on the pages of an internationally published book! The book, which is called Drawing 365 in the US and Sketching 365 in the UK, will be published on January 1st, 2015, and is now available for pre-order from Amazon and North Light Books. I haven't seen it yet, so it's all a bit of a mystery, but I'm hoping Santa will bring me a few copies for Christmas (hint, hint).





The other bit of good news is that The Brush Off Exhibition has been extended until December 12th, so you have extra time to get down to Avenue Art in Old Montreal to check out all the fabulous art in this gallery show. 
Duck Day Afternoon - 24x30 available at Avenue Art, 
731 de la Commune Ouest, Montreal, 514-867-3745

Dressage horses have taken over my work table just recently. Here are a couple of new ones:

Big Grey - 8x6 painted paper collage on cradled panel


Blue Ribbon - 10x8 painted paper collage on cradled panel

I wish all my American friends and readers a very happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Birds of a Feather

On Monday I had the pleasure of meeting Mohawk artist Natasha Smoke Santiago. She came to my studio as a guest of the MRC du Haut St. Laurent, which is the regional governing body in my area of southwestern Quebec. The visit was arranged by Luc de Tremmerie, who is the Coordinator of Cultural Development for this region. Natasha and Huntingdon artist John Ryan (shown below) are collaborating in the joint creation of murals in the MRC du Haut St. Laurent and in Akwesasne, the Mohawk Nation territory - which straddles Quebec, Ontario, and New York state - where Natasha Smoke Santiago lives and works. 


Natasha Smoke Santiago and John Ryan

Natasha is a potter, painter, and mixed media artist. The first thing I noticed about her work is her love of the female form, especially evident in her sculptures of heavily pregnant bellies. I love the rich brown colour of this one.



Burnt Pot by Natasha Smoke Santiago


Natasha describes her work as " ...heavily influenced by her Haudenosaunee heritage, history and teachings. She also draws upon the experiences of her life as inspiration for her works. Much of her work tells a tale, or has a story behind it...".



Mother Fracker by Natasha Smoke Santiago


We talked shop for a while, comparing methods and materials as artists are wont to do whenever they get together. Our visit was also filmed by a videographer as part of a documentary. I hope to have more information about that soon.

Natasha and I also discovered in the course of our conversation that we have a mutual fascination with corvids, i.e. crows and ravens. (Go figure!) I especially like this painting by Natasha of a crow with a stolen kernel of corn in its beak. Typical crow!


Blue Corn Crow  by Natasha Smoke Santiago

If you would like to see more of Natasha's wonderful work, I encourage you to visit her website The Storytellers House.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Finally, FINALLY getting back into a regular studio routine.

Today I started a little 6x6 Rolex inspired collage. It feels so good to get back into my regular work schedule. No more interruptions for a while I hope!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Getting the Brush Off...for a Good Cause

I'm happy to announce that three of my collages:

"Reflections" 



"Duck Day Afternoon"



"Race Time, Saratoga"





were all recently selected to be part of The Brush Off painting competition at Galerie Avenue Art in Montreal. Avenue Art is a gorgeous art gallery located in leVieux Montreal - which as its name would suggest is the oldest part of the city - right on the Old Port.

(Photo source: montrealvenue.com)


(Photo source: montrealvenue.com)

The Brush Off is a competition, exhibition, and fundraising event, with a percentage of the sales going towards Art Based Projects for people living with Alzheimer's.

The opening night event is October 16th, 6:30 - 9:00 pm. Tickets are $25 at the door. The exhibition continues until November 14th. Galerie Avenue Art is located at 731 de la Commune West, on the second floor.

I'm curious to see the other artwork and to meet the other nine artists!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Culture Days: The 2014 Edition


Culture Days - or les Journées de la culture as we call them here in la belle province - are happening again across the country. Events begin today and run through to Sunday, September 28th.

My studio will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. The address is 138 Rang Ste. Anne in St. Chrysostome, just an hour's drive from Montreal.

Come and visit! You can check out my recent artwork, have a coffee, meet the chickens, and pet a studio cat.


I even tidied up...sort of.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Have We Any Wool?

Yes, lots more than three bags full- probably more like twenty!

The lambs were shorn yesterday, and I got twelve pretty fleeces off them. Including the ones from when the ewes were shorn back in the spring, we have a lot of fleeces to clean and send off to be milled into roving.

The lambs all look pretty silly with their new haircuts, and the really funny thing is that they no longer recognize each other, so ever since the shearer left there has been a lot of baa-ing.

A couple of the lambs have figured out that minus their wool coats they can now squeeze through the space between the gate and the gatepost.   I found this guy on the lawn outside my studio.


Here is a selection of the raw fleece colours. I think they are lovely, and the raw wool is incredibly soft to the touch.


Black Border-Leicester- Blue Faced Leicester cross

Blue Faced Leicester - Jacob (and unknown) cross

Blue Faced Leicester

Hand spinning wool is the closet thing I have to a hobby. I like to work at my wheel in the winter when labour on the farm slows down a bit and it's too cold to do much outdoors. At least, I liked to spin wool until a certain cat chewed up the drive band on my spinning wheel. Yes, I'm talking about you, Kevin. Oh, and by the way, Kevin is a girl...which is kind of a long story. I must remember to get that drive band replaced before winter!



Doesn't she look pleased with herself?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Water, Reflections

"Reflections" - 24 x 24 painted paper collage on cradled plywood panel

I completed this collage last month and submitted it for consideration for an exhibition at White Flag Gallery in Brockville, Ontario. The collage was accepted AND....



"Reflections" is being featured on the gallery's promotional material, which is pretty sweet.

  White Flag Gallery is located at 9 Sheridan Mews, Brockville, ON (613) 342 5548.



 The exhibition based on the theme of Water runs from July 11 - August 16. The vernissage is Thursday, July 10, from 6-9 pm. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Three Little Lambs

Spring is really and truly here at last. Everyday the landscape around us gets a little greener. The trees are getting their leaves; our pear trees are blooming.



My sheep are out on pasture now, which makes them very happy. Our fences aren't completely repaired yet, which makes me a little less happy since I have a hard time keeping the sheep where I want them.


I guess for now I just have to go with the flow. One way to keep those sheep exactly where I want them is to turn them into art. Collaged lambs don't sneak under fences!



Freckles 7x5 painted paper collage on panel.


Ewe and Lamb 4.5x7 painted paper collage on panel.




Spring Green 6x7 painted paper collage on panel.

These collages and some sheep themed greeting cards are travelling to Eastern Ontario next weekend for the St. Distaff Day Fibre Festival at St. Mary's Community Centre, 19659 County Road 19, Williamstown Ontario. If you are a knitter or spinner, I am told this is the place to be! Some of my small work will be on display and available for purchase at Pinehill Farm's booth. And check out Pine Hill's (aka my good friend Anna-Maria Nicolov) beautiful yarn and roving.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Island Bound

Yes, it's almost that time of year again. No, not tax time. That should be over for most of us, unless you are very naughty and LATE. No, it's nearly time for the start of the Season at Mackinac Island, and with it the annual opening of Mackinac's Little Gallery.



My collages are lucky enough to go on vacation to this beautiful place. Here is a new collage in progress bound for Mackinac:




And recently completed:




This collage of the Iroquois Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI, is unusual in that it consists of two 6x4 panels which are meant to be displayed together. Or apart:



Officially, in the art world, a work of art made of two panels that go together  like this is called a diptych - which is also one of my favourite weird words. (Say it out loud, I dare you.) And, yes, three panels together is a tripych, which is also amusing. Almost as good as mukluk.

This diptych and the above lighthouse collage in progress will headed down to Mackinac next week.

And here is a random picture of my chickens doing something weird. 


Looks like they are logrolling, but who can tell with chickens.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Carriage Parade Number Two

This collage took much longer than I thought it would. In part this was due to a series of "real life"  - as opposed to "art life" -  distractions that kept my studio time  restricted for the past few weeks. That is over and done with now, so no more excuses!

Carriage Parade 2 - 8 x 10 painted paper collage on cradled panel

Now on to the next!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

More Snow, More Lambs, and a Video!

If my calculations are correct, today is our 124th day of winter and we are enjoying yet another snowstorm. This must be pretty close to a record, I would think.




I made the mistake of walking out to our back pasture this morning to get a shot of the farm. I should have gone on skis because the snow was over my boots. As you can see, even my dog wasn't sticking around.

Normally by this time of year the ground is bare and my crocuses are poking their heads out to catch the first rays of warm spring sun. Never mind crocuses, we haven't seen the ground since late November, so I broke down and bought a pot of daffodils. Spring has almost arrived in my studio. 


The lambs keep coming, too. So far we have four sets of twins and a single with a couple of ewes left to go.
Here are some of the babies cuddled up together in the lamb creep. A creep is a small place for little lambs to go where they get introduced to eating grain and hay without being disturbed by the big sheep. They also like to hang out in there and I frequently find them all sleeping together in a warm, wooly little pile.


And now for the exciting art related news:

 Last spring my photographer friend Tracy Martin came for a visit and shot a couple of hours of video footage of the farm and of me working in my studio. Now I am happy to be able to share with you the results here!  






Thursday, March 20, 2014

In Like a Lion and Out Like a...?

March arrived roaring in our little corner of La Belle Province and it shows little sign of quieting down. Here we are, the first official day of Spring, and it is snowing. Again. Apparently Mother Nature wanted to celebrate the Vernal Equinox this way:



More snow is announced for Saturday. I hope wherever you are there are daffodils. 

The only place on our farm where you can catch a glimpse of spring is out in the barn. Yes, we have lambs!



Now if that doesn't cheer you up, I don't know what will.  Cheers me up. There aren't too many things more fun to watch than a baby animal experiencing the world for the first time. This little girl is getting acquainted with her Auntie Violaine. 

Tempted as I am to spend the day watching lambs frolic, I do actually get some real work done. Even when it looks like this outside my studio.


It's always bright and comfortable inside. With some music on and a collage on my work table, I can forget about our lousy weather.

I finished a new collage just this afternoon. "Carriage Parade"  is slated for Mackinac's Little Gallery for the seasonal re-opening in May. A big thank you goes out to Bree's Mackinac Island Blog for the reference photo.

"Carriage Parade" 8X10 painted paper collage on panel.

I really like the green collage paper in this one. Sigh. I remember green.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Child's Play

It was March Break this past week which meant I also had a week off from my regular classroom gig. I have been teaching art classes for children for over a decade now. More than ten years! How did that happen? Some of the kids from the very first elementary school art programme I was ever involved with are now married and are having children of their own. It makes me feel like an art grandma.  Perhaps in a few years I will be teaching those children, too.

One of the joys of teaching children is witnessing the surprise and pleasure they get out of exploring a new technique. I like to introduce to them things they might not otherwise get to try, things like found object sculpture, print making, and, of course, painted paper collage. I also like to push the kids a little.

Our projects in February were all about drawing and learning to "see". We worked on grid drawings - what artists call "squaring up" - in order to help the kids understand that they can observe the parts of an object in isolation and just draw what they see bit by bit instead of trying to make sense of the entire object all at once. Often seeing the "whole", especially of a complicated object  like a human face, can be very intimidating, so these grid drawing projects are real confidence boosters.


As February is Black History month, I had the kids work on an iconic drawing of Nelson Mandela. They made an 100% enlargement of the original drawing (above) to go from an 8 x 10 to a 16 x 20. It took a couple of classes to accomplish this. I was stunned by the level of patience shown by a class of 9 - 12 year olds. You could have heard a pin drop in the art room, these kids were so focused!





Once the drawings were completed, we then moved on to making a black and white poster out of the drawing. I supplied the class with four values of paint from black to light grey. The kids were responsible for figuring out which value went where.




Pretty impressive results! It will be fun to see all these posters displayed together.




I will be back to school this coming Wednesday. With Spring just around the corner (I hope) it seems appropriate that we begin to discuss the theory and uses of colour.