Thursday, May 31, 2007

May 31 work in progress

Bleh! The Gypsy Horse painting looks awful. Too awful to post. *sigh* I really picked the wrong background. It just doesn't suit Aragorn. He's a sweet quiet little guy, and my background is this crazy wild gradation of bold color from deep red to golden orange. It's neato, but it's not him and I hate it. Too busy looking, too "hellish." So, I could go for a more subdued flat red, or completely change and paint it blue. No landscapes, no barns, don't even suggest it! It's just going to be big bold color like the dog paintings. I am debating re-gessoing the whole thing and starting over, even redoing the sketch, but I have to have this DONE by Sunday, so I think I'll see how repainting the background goes tomorrow morning and if I still hate it I'll start over. Sometimes this happens, it's okay, it'll work out in the end. Doesn't help that I lost a day of painting when the well pump went out yesterday (no water!). It's fixed now.

I have been working on the chicken drawing too and now this is getting into kind of a funny situation. The end use of this image will be to scan the bird and drop him into a digital background, so the finished image will be a digital original (to sell as prints, etc). But I'm going to go ahead and finish the work on paper, even though it'll look totally different and have a different title. That's weird, the same bird will be used in two images, I'm having trouble thinking this through! Anyway for years I've wanted to enter chicken art in Draft Horse Classic just for kicks and so I figured this might as well be the one since I'm working on it anyway. I'm trying to keep the background simple, it's not anywhere near done though and that board will probably end up a lot darker.

So this'll be a crazy next few days trying to get this finished up. If worse comes to worse I will hand-deliver my entries. It would only take me three hours round trip to do that... Not my plan but if I had to do that to get them in by the deadline I would.

And finally, some ducks and hens eating watermelon, just for cuteness sake. The duck pics look blue because of the tarp over the top of the coop.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

adios, Day One

For the last nine days I have had a twice-daily barn sitting job about 15 miles away. The manager was away, so I fed horses, groomed horses, cleaned stalls, medicated lame horse, etc. It's really been a neat experience and I've enjoyed getting to know the owner. I've really never been around a barn like that, it's so beautiful and absolutely spotlessly clean. What an amazing place, and the house was stunning! Totally done in western decor, I was enthralled.

And you know the best part. The owner asked to see my portfolio, so I left it with her for a couple days. She fell for the drawing "Day One." And she bought it. OMG!!!! Yay!!!!!!! :-)!!! It looks soooo good in her house! I wish I had a photograph of how it looks there, maybe some time I can get one. It is truly the perfect location, and I am SO glad that drawing has finally found its home! (for a long time I wouldn't even sell it, it's a favorite of a lot of people including me).

This is the drawing... (in here, on the floor)

because I know you like the duck photos

Lol, they just keep hatching! I have these little guys for about two more weeks before they go to their new home. More hatched yesterday, so now they range in age from 1 day to 2.5 weeks, and amazingly they get along GREAT. The two WONDERFUL hens are taking good care of everyone, and it's one BIG happy family!

something is afoot

What is this? What have we here?

Ohh, it's one of those.... :-)

Monday, May 28, 2007

May 28 work in progress

The clock is ticking on getting Draft Horse Classic entries done. I redid the sketch for the painting and got the gold base coat on today. You'll recognize this horse from a photo shoot I did a couple weeks ago. This is Aragorn, the Gypsy stallion. It's going to have a less than exciting title because I want to really get the point across that he's only a yearling. He'll be MUCH more "feathery" and have a bigger mane and tail when he's full grown.

The sketch:

The camera flash made this pretty wild, but the gold is just the base coat for the background. It'll probably end up being red. Or blue. Or... eeny meeny miney moe. (in other words I'm still thinking about it). ;-)

"Aragorn at one year"
18x36 inches
acrylic and ink on canvas
price pending completion

And I worked on the Rosecomb too. I'm thinking if I drop some sort of simple barnyard scene behind him I could even use this as a DHC entry (it's on a 12x12 piece of paper, I'm just cropping it when I scan it). The bird itself will be scanned and placed into a digital image, but there's nothing saying I can't "finish" the drawing and sell that too!

bird 8x8.5 inches
colored pencil, graphite, ink


That's gotta be hard work.

This is one of those overachievers that hatched a day early (last weekend). It's pretty cool to have a chick actually hatch in one's hand, though I'm sure plenty of people would say "eww gross!" Not gross! Awesome!

oh THIS is funny!

So every now and then I check my web stats to see what pages are popular and what keywords are bringing people in, and lately there is something very funny bringing in a bunch of hits. It's the phrase "american idol chicken lady." LOL!!!!!! I know they mean that lady in the yellow feathery outfit! NOT ME PEEPS, NOT ME!!!!

pet peeve

This has happened several times in the last few months. I do a custom art piece, putting in loads of time and work. I put in more time framing it, make it look great. I tell the client I'm shipping it. I ship it. And I NEVER hear a word from the client. I check delivery confirmation so I know it's arrived, and I'd have to assume I would have heard from the client if it didn't. But I also have to assume one of several things:

1) they did email me to say it got there and I just never received it. I really do have a problem with not receiving emails sometimes

2) they just forgot to let me know, simple oversight

3) it didn't arrive. It was delivered somewhere else by accident, and the client has been abducted by aliens and never contacted me.

4) they hate it and don't want to tell me

If I ask about it, particularly after this long, it feels like I'm fishing for compliments. I'm not. I just want to know it got there in one piece and if someone IS unhappy I want to fix that! Seriously people, if someone sends you something they really care about, have the courtesy to let that person know it got there!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

May 26 work in progress

bird approx 8x8.5 inches
colored pencil, graphite, ink

I also sketched out the Gypsy horse on canvas, then stood back and thought "nope." Too much background, not enough horse. I was way too traditional with leaving a nice border on it. So, I slapped some gesso on there and will be redoing the sketch, MUCH bigger. Live and learn.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I hated to do it

But I can only stand so much crawling around on the ground underneath a horse combing out foxtail stickers with a fine-toothed comb. Every year at this time when I let the horses back on pasture, Gwen turns into a foxtail magnet because of her "feathers." (no problem with Shylah). I worry about the stickers burrowing into the legs, so I have to really stay on top of combing the darn things out, which is a huge pain and takes a long time. And every year I grumble "maybe I should just shave her." But *gasp* what a thing to do to a draft horse (well, half of one anyway!) Those feathers are a distinguishing feature! But yesterday I decided I'd had enough, so I took a scissors and chopped them off, and then borrowed a clippers from my neighbor and today I proceded to shave her. That was an adventure, Gwen has probably never seen a clippers before so she was about ready to run for the hills or climb the barn or something. But with a lot of time and coaxing I convinced her that I was not going to kill her or cut off anything vital, and then it was easy. She stood still like she'd been clipped a million times before, gave me no trouble at all.

So I hated to do it but I'm glad I did, this'll keep her foxtail free over the summer. It'll grow back. I DO miss her old look though! It's not a great trim by any stretch of the imagination, but it's functional and not cosmetic. I've never clipped a horse before, so this was new for both of us!

Beforehand.. feathers, glorious feathers!

After the scissor-trim.

Can you see all the foxtails embedded in there? Ugh! I can't believe how dense that hair is!

All done! The mare has legs, who knew it? :-)

Oh, and her spirits have greatly improved since being turned out again and she's put on weight, so I think she was just depressed. :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

May 24 work in progress

The back/saddle/shoulder are NOT done.

bird approx 8x8.5 inches
colored pencil, graphite, ink

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May 23 work in progress

Today I bought an 18x36 inch canvas on which to do a painting of a Gypsy Horse to enter in Draft Horse Classic... I have 8 days to get that done. No problemo! I also thought up a great drawing to enter...ever the procrastinator. Not sure I can squeeze that in but I'll try. There is no minimum size requirement, so...3x5? Lol.

Anyhow, for the first installment of the new chicken art, I am going to show Work In Progress photos while I do the traditional drawing part. When I get to the digital component I think I'll just wait til the end and then post up the finished art. This is a real stretch for me to wrap my brain around working digitally... but the ultimate goal is not the production of an art piece, per say, it's the production of an image (which can then be used in a multitude of ways). This'll make more sense later. There will be an original drawing, but only sort of. Clear as mud?

So this being the first one and all, I just *had* to draw a Rosecomb (not that I'm biased or anything! For anyone new that's the breed I raise). The color is not going to be a Standard color, and I keep having to remind myself that this is okay, I don't *have* to draw Standard stuff anymore (yay!) I have a photo of an American Game Bantam that is one of the most stunning birds I've ever seen. Entered as a Blue Golden Duckwing but he's much too dark, so that's the color I'm going with. It's sorta somewhere between GDW and Blue Red (red shoulders, golden hackle/saddle, gorgeous!)

bird itself is about 8x8.5 inches
colored pencil, graphite, ink
on tan Stonehenge paper

detail of head:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The last hatch of chicks was this weekend, woo hoo! There are plenty for show. If I was really motived I'd add up all the totals and tell you how many there are, but you may not really want to know that anyway, it's probably some obscenely large number.

But I will throw in some cute photos. The ducks aren't really mine. I mean, they are at the moment in that they are here, but I hatched those for a friend and am just ducky-sitting for a couple weeks.

The ducks with the chicks...

I couldn't resist a little photo shoot of a sleepy ducky...

I moved them out with the three week-olds this morning (not three-week-old) and bless their hearts the two hens took them in just fine!

So, what have I been up to. I mailed off my State Fair art entry forms today, so please keep your fingers crossed. That's a tough show to get into, but I've gotten lucky twice before! I entered three pieces. I am hoping to get one more something done for Draft Horse Classic, which I need to mail off by the 1st. Yipes! I think considering the time crunch it'll be a painting. I already have a lithograph to enter but I always like to submit more than one and once again I ran out of time to do the life-size Percheron head portrait and didn't get any chicken art done for it either.

I did start work a couple days ago on the new direction of the chicken art. It's going to start out pretty traditional... So I'll do the work-in-progress-photo thing til I get to the digital stage. ("digital?" yes indeed).

I'm actually starting to think more about GOING to the high school reunion. Ugh, I know I know. I'd rather regret going than not going though. *sigh* I dunno, that's a freakin lot of money and I have loads of expenses coming up.

Well, I gotta be up early for a barn-sitting gig, toodles!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Batch 5 chicks

Another one of those entries that'll be way boring if you aren't into chickens... this is last weekend's hatch.

Pen #O1: BBRed male X BBRed females = 2 BBRed
Pen #O2: BBRed male X BBRed females = 4 BBRed
Pen #E: Brassy Black (Black sport) male X Blue Brassy Back females = 2 Brassy Back, 2 Blue Brassy Back
Pen #T4: Cuckoo male X Cuckoo females = 2 Cuckoo
Pen #T5: Black male X Birchen OExRC and Blue Silver OExRC female = 1 Black
Pen #N1: BBRed male X BBRed and Brown Red females = 3 BBRed, 3 Brown Red
Pen #N5: Black male X Black females = 3 Black

Last hatch is today, other than some more Polish and mallards and maybe Dutch (haven't candled them yet) I'm hatching for other people.

Friday, May 18, 2007

barn swallow mourning

Those poor swallows! Every year it's something, it's like they have a dark cloud over their heads. There is a pair of swallows (probably not the SAME pair every year, but related maybe?) that has nested outside the front door for ten years. The very first year they started nesting as soon as they migrated in (mid March) and raised three broods of 4 babies. Every year they seem to get a later start, including one year of not raising anything, not even nesting, just hanging around (marital strife?). Last year the brood got mites and died. Thankfully they did renest and raise three or four (I forget).

I was at the computer this morning when I heard a bunch of wing flapping and squabbling out front. I dashed to the door to catch a glimpse of another bird (sounded like a starling but I can't positively ID it) leaving the nest. I've seen the house sparrows in there stealing nesting material, but this looked more ominous. I pulled a chair out front, grabbed a little mirror, climbed up and looked... Three babies, no more than maybe two days old... no movement. NOOOOOOO.

I grabbed some rubber gloves and stuck my hand in there and pulled them out of the nest. All dead, each with a bloody peck mark to the head. WAAAAHHHHH. I hate that!!! I love the swallows, they are one of my favorite birds.

I just heard more squabbling and looked out to see a male house sparrow on the nest. Would a sparrow kill the babies??? I was thinking it would be something killing them with the intention of eating them.

This is bad, very bad. This means war, I must defend the swallows. :-(

Thursday, May 17, 2007

rough evening

For the last couple evenings, I've seen Shylah laying down in the alleyway that connects the corral and pasture, just before sunset. I've checked her and she's been fine... but she's always been a funny horse and spends a lot more time on the ground than Gwen does...

I got back from dinner tonight around 8:30, and for some random reason decided to use the last snippet of daylight to visit the horses. They were out in the pasture, Gwen standing, Shylah laying down. What's up with that?! My fear is always founder. I'm obsessive about checking their digital pulses, feeling for heat in the hooves, watching for weight shifting, etc. Everything was fine there... I brought her into the corral and watched for a few minutes. She kicked her belly and went down on the ground again. Craaaaap. Colic.

I spent about an hour with her out there in the dark, first walking her to keep her from getting down and rolling. She was definitely uncomfortable, kept wanting to stop and roll, and she was pretty grumpy. Eventually she stopped trying to roll, so I sat down on a bench and just let her stand quietly for a while. It was really peaceful.. just the sound of crickets and bullfrogs... and finally gut gurgles and some big time equine flatulence. Ah yes, that's what I was waiting for.

She's fine now, all is well. I wish I knew what was causing this, as I'm now thinking she's had minor colics for the last few nights. There is nothing in the pasture that hasn't been there before, so I don't know if it's a particular plant, or if she's overeating, or... ugh!

Bottom line is she's okay and I'm immensely relieved, but I think I'll have to start restricting her pasture access.

That's seriously emotionally draining when a horse isn't feeling well. I'm whooped.

Bantam Blue Cream Light Brown Dutch

Okay, 2/5 of the committee has replied and approved so I'm calling that good enough!

So this is it, the last pair!

disjointed thoughts

Well first I guess I have to say that the results of last night's American Idol vote are a complete outrage. OUTRAGE. I am horrified that Melinda was voted off, I was going to vote for her to win. I can't stand Blake! Every time he does that stupid move where he turns his head to the right I want to flick him! Erg!

changing thoughts...

The horses are back on pasture turnout now, and Gwen is doing MUCH better. She's not moping around all the time, she's even been running around a bit, and she already looks like she's putting weight back on. Yay! Shylah of course only has to look at a blade of grass, or a dirt clod, or an air molecule, and she instantly starts to resemble a hippo. I'll have to keep an eye on her and maybe limit her turnout time or she will get absurdly fat.


My last hatch of chicks will be this weekend. I have a couple batches of eggs in there for other people though, and those will be finished up by early June. I remember when I used to hatch for 12 weeks. That means 12 weeks of brooder-cleaning, 4 brooders per week...ugh! This year will only be six weeks, so that's much better!

I am selling hatching eggs! See Random Rosecombs for more info,


I have a high school reunion this summer. Crikey. I don't know how it has possibly been long enough for it to be reunion time. On one hand it was a zillion years ago. On the other hand I still remember where I ate lunch, where I parked my car, etc. It could have been a year ago. So... what to do. Seems like about 2/3 of my friends are NOT going, and I'm pretty tempted to skip it too. $89 to get in?!?! Cocktail attire, I'd have to buy a dress... Do I really want to see everyone? Some yes, most no. I was never popular! Will I be the only one from the entire class who doesn't have a date? Quite possibly. Why does this feel like prom again? So... the message I seem to be getting from friends is they are saying "everyone I want to be in touch with is on myspace." Okay, I am the last one in the universe without a myspace thing (really do I need one more online distraction?!) but maybe it's time to do that. Would sure be cheaper than $89 and a cocktail dress, and that sinking feeling of walking in alone. Hmmmm. Maybe in another ten years when I'm a household name I'll put it on my list of things to do. ;-) HA ha.


So what am I doing now that the Standard is done? No shortage of things to do! I have several art show deadlines in the next couple weeks, and would like to do one more piece for Draft Horse Classic. It's time to start the new direction of chicken art, a combination of traditional and digital. I have paintings to do. I am finally redoing the art-for-sale section of the website... a new shop, a new venue. I have website clients who want major work done. No shortage of things to do!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

quiet victory

Raise your glass, here's to me. I am done with the drawings for the American Standard of Perfection!!! :-) It happened at 12:59am today, the last time the pencil touched the paper for the last pair of drawings, that feeling of knowing they were complete. It's pretty weird to be done, but oh my gosh it's good, it's like being released, moving on... It's been a lot of things, an honor, an accomplishment, a headache, a frustration.... My skills and technique have improved so incredibly much, I've added a huge amount of art to my portfolio. But there have also been some hard lessons learned, mistakes made, and things I will never do again. I've learned a lot about art, about business, about my time and how much I now value that. It's good to be done. It's been years. What a ride...

I'll post the art soon, I'm hoping for feedback from one more committee member.


I hatched a bunch of Bantam Buff Laced Polish for a friend, so that's what all the yellowish poofy-heads are!

Awww, adorable no matter how many times I've seen it!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

dog fashion show

Tonight was the Second Saturday art walk, and 4 Paws Pet Boutique (where my paintings are for sale) held a fashion show in conjunction with a clothing boutique. It was quite interesting. No art has sold yet, *sigh.* I'm wondering if it would be better to just do prints and then market the bejeebers out of them and try to get them into MANY boutiques. Might be worth setting up a table to pimp art out front of the store at a Second Saturday this summer. If anyone actually showed up to see me and you got there after 8, sorry you missed me. I was hungry, it was crowded, nobody knew me, I left. :-)

It was evening, low light, I didn't want to do flash photography so I shot everything at ISO 800. It was an experiment. They are pretty grainy, but the lighting is decent.

the overachiever

The overachiever, there's one in every batch...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Batch 4 chicks

Another one of those entries that'll be way boring if you aren't into chickens... this is last weekend's hatch.

Pen #B: Golden Duckwing OExRC male X Black, BBRed, Blue Brassy Splash females = 2 GDW?, 1 Blue Brassy Back, 1 Brassy Back, 1 Brown Red
Pen #E: Brassy Black (Black sport) male X Blue Brassy Back females = 1 Brassy Back, 1 Blue Brassy Back
Pen #T4: Cuckoo male X Cuckoo females = 1 Black
Pen #T5: Black male X Birchen OExRC and Blue Silver OExRC female = 1 Black
Pen #N1: BBRed male X BBRed and Brown Red females = 1 BBRed, 2 Brown Red
Pen #N2: Black male X Brassy Back females = 1 Brassy Back
Pen #N4: Black male X Black females = 1 Black
Pen #N5: Black male X Black females = 2 Black, 1 Brassy Back (sport, this happens from my blacks sometimes)

So yeah, really small batch. Two more batches to go, 5 and 6 should be bigger, and 5 has a bunch of Polish and Old English that I am hatching for a friend.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

baby horsies!

Yesterday and today was my annual springtime whirlwind trip up north to JC and DC's. You know, as if I hadn't seen enough of I-5 in the last week... Oh my gosh, you would not believe what I saw on the way home. 10 feet off the side of I-5, grazing in a field, near the Colusa County line-- seven pronghorns! What, are they stalking me now?! Before Saturday I'd never even seen one in California! It was all I could do not to drive off the road I was gawking so much.

Anyway, had a very nice visit, saw some super cute horses, made brownies, all the usual stuff! :-)

Hey look, horses!

TH Aragorn, yearling Gypsy stallion (Shylah's future boyfriend, hmm?):

Nuboso TH, week-old Azteca colt:

Torbellina TH, week-old Andalusian filly: