Sunday, September 30, 2007

the longest post

Where to start...

Draft Horse Classic: my sixth year showing there, I had a lot of new stuff and a new booth configuration. I was pretty optimistic, but mother nature did not cooperate. The first day, as always, was a complete waste of time. The out-of-towners like it because it makes the travel easier or something, but dang it's just a waste, didn't even make enough to buy lunch that day. Friday was better, did pretty well that day. Saturday and Sunday are usually jammed with people (except for a few "dead times" like during the Saturday evening show). But with the rain on Saturday and Sunday morning, the hoards simply did not show up, so sales were WAY down. I definitely covered expenses and then some, but compared to last year it was pretty bad. Oh well, not much I can do about that. You never know...

I love that show, so it really doesn't change anything. I'll be back next year. :-)

I got a lot of good feedback on the paintings, which is funny. Maybe not funny, but sometimes I think if I had to cut back one thing it would be the paintings, but that seems to be everyone's new favorite, so go figure, I'll make more. ;-) That was the general encouragement..."make more, those are marketable." Yes, that is incentive! I showed my little scrimshaw piano keys around a bit and people really liked those too. The booth was set up different this year (the shelves are new, and I reconfigured it to make a storage space, GREAT setup!!! For anyone who is not familiar with art shows, you show up and there's a 10x10 space for you. You provide the walls, lights, carpet, furniture, and of course all the art. That booth was a big investment but a very wise one.

I had a number of visitors at the show from all areas of my life. Some I expected, some surprised me, and it was a delight to see all. Truly, thank you, it means a lot when people come to a show. :-) Saturday night when the public was all at the horse show we had a little artist party with munchies and drinks and some of the artists are also fabulous musicians. That was really nice. The artists there are just some of the nicest people in the world, I so enjoy that crowd. It was bitter sweet this year, being the last show ever for some people who have become dear friends over the years. It will not be the same without them next year, but I know that we will keep in touch.

The downside to being an exhibitor is that I really don't get to see the horses much. I went out for an hour Friday morning and saw a bit of the halter classes but didn't get any really great photos, so if I ever manage to draw/paint a draft horse again I'm still working from old photos.. But I'll stick some pics here anyway.

That's a lot of horse to handle!

Exercising the Budweiser Clydesdales, that looks fun!!!

So... plenty of time to get ready for next year and have a lot of new stuff and hope for good weather.

***** changing directions now *****

I have debated on whether to talk about this or not, I try to refrain from discussing personal stuff but it's been on my mind and does explain part of my blogging absence. Two days after getting home from DHC I flew down to San Diego with my mom to visit family, to see my grandma for what was probably the last time. She has been in poor health for the last several months (she is 90), and what was planned originally as just a visit ended up more urgent. It was a hard visit, and it's hard to talk about. She didn't look like herself anymore, and for the most part didn't act like herself except for the occasional glimmers that almost made me laugh, like when she rather suddenly looked at me and suggested I go mop the floor. :-) It felt more like a vigil than a visit, and I felt like I didn't know what to do or where to be or quite how to handle it, tiptoeing around and trying to be quiet when in truth she couldn't hear me anyway. I've not experienced this before. I have lost relatives and I have lost friends but I've never seen someone in the last stages of life.

She knew who I was when I was there, but said very little. Talking seemed difficult. She would talk about things that didn't make sense though, and ask about things that nobody understood. She would see and converse with relatives who passed away years ago. My uncle suggested (seriously or not I don't know) that maybe they were there in the room, and that has just boggled my mind ever since. I would have no trouble believing it though. Maybe the nonsensical things make sense to her, I wish there was a way to know what and who she really sees.

Leaving to catch on plane on Thursday was a heart-wreching goodbye, knowing it was probably the last. I am teary-eyed just writing it. She said to me "I hope you have learned something." It may take me a lifetime to know exactly what that means.

I feel terrible for my grandfather. For 70 years she has been his life. He is with her every minute, so in love, so devoted. It is beautiful but tragic to see him dote on her, knowing how lost he will be when she passes. That just rips my heart out to see him go through this. A love like that is something most people can only wish to find.

She is still hanging in there, but keeps saying she wants to go, she wants to leave. She does not fear death, she seems to see it as going home, and she so clearly wants to just go. She said to my aunt "I should be home by now, the guru is not doing his job." That makes me smile, in spite of it all.

***** completely changing directions again *****

Since returning home late Thursday, I've just been attempting to get things back on track, I am so far behind on work it's not even funny. I still have not managed to completely unpack from the shows, and I have so much cleaning to do. I have way too much art. It needs to be sold, but sometimes in desperation for some place to stash it I even think about giving a bunch of it away. I'd probably regret that, but it crosses my mind. Or maybe it needs foster homes or something. Maybe I just need to make smaller stuff. ;-) Scrimshaw! OMG, I am so far behind, I am going to order blanks tomorrow or Tues and get going on a bunch of jewelry soon. I haven't even finished the lion in color. Sigh.

I saw Sourdough Slim in the security line at the airport on Thursday. Totally random.

Today I baked three dozen chocolate mint sandwich cookies, and a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. The cookies went in the freezer for later, and the whole cake went to the neighbors, since I owed then for help welding new stuff for the art booth, and for feeding critters.

The trail ride adventure is soon. And the poultry shows start soon. October is nearly as crazy as September, but in a more laid-back way.

Postings still might be few and far between for a little while, there is still SO MUCH going on.

Monday, September 24, 2007

checking in....

I don't have time to say much, but just wanted to say I'm still alive. The show was loads of fun but not very profitable. It rained Saturday and much of Sunday, so the crowds were noticeably smaller than normal. *sigh* I'll write more and post pics when I can.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

calm before the storm

Well, the minivan is all packed up and I'm sitting here wondering what I forgot. All the boxes and stuff fit in there really well with room to spare, which is not what I expected. How did that happen? Hmmmm. Tomorrow is setup day, and the show itself (Draft Horse Classic) is Thursday through Sunday at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley ( Come visit me!!!!

The next three weeks are the insanest ever. September is always sorta nuts but oh my it has just gotten rather chaotic this year and extended into October. It'll be fun, mostly, but dang!

I finished this today:

12x16 inches
acrylic on canvas
for sale at DHC

I started a sketch for a drawing to work on at DHC. It's dreadfully boring to sit there all day with nothing to do, as there tends to be some serious down time while people are out watching shows, so I always bring something to work on. None of the commissions I have are feasible to work on there (wrong media, too big, need to research stuff and don't have time) and I definitely can't do scrimshaw there so I just started a new one. It's a "green legged hatch" American game rooster. I hope I can do justice to how gorgeous they really are!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Today was the Chicken Festival. My impression at the moment is that I likely will not participate again, but as always "we'll see."

I got up at 4:30. Arrived at 6:30. It took 2.5 hours to set up. It looked good. A bit cavelike in the dark green tent, but it was nice weather and not too windy and the booth looked nice. I was the only artist there. Lots of crafters with the usual homemade pot-holders and Halloween craft items, and some commercial vendors, food vendors, etc. I didn't get much chance to walk around except beforehand, but upon asking around I found I was correct in noticing the lack of anything really chicken oriented there. I mean sure, there were loads of chicken pot-holders and stuff, but I wanted to see more info, like why are there chickens in Fair Oaks anyway? How bout someone with some info about birds for people who are interested in owning some? (everyone asked me about chickens). I think it was really just a Fair Oaks Festival, and the chicken happened to be part of the city and make a cute logo. It was not a "chicken festival" like I had hoped.

So I had put all this work into making chicken drawings and getting a crapload of new chicken note cards printed up, thinking they'd sell like hotcakes in this chicken-loving crowd. What I found was that most people didn't seem to give a hoot about chickens. Dogs, on the other hand, wow. Not that I sold much dog stuff, but the dog paintings were totally what drew people in, there were loads of dogs being walked around, and I have never had that many people ask about commissions. I gave out 15 brochures and a ton of business cards so hopefully a few will follow through.

I am not crazy about doing outdoor shows, I don't like the work to be out in the sun, the varnish got tacky in the cool of the morning, the ground isn't level, etc. I certainly would not make a habit out of outdoor shows.

Sales were okay, thanks largely in part to a last minute (as I was packing up) sale of "Mr. Grumpypants" (see previous post). Also sold the original painting "Tempura" (cat) and a few small open-edition prints and note cards. Had the painting(s) not sold it would have totally sucked. It was really not a "fine art" crowd though. The hard part about being the artist in a sea of crafters is that my work was WAY expensive compared to other people's knick knacks, and the shoppers were probably more in the craft-fair mode. Whereas at a fine art show, there is certainly some variation in pricing, but it's all (justifiably!) high, and the atmosphere is totally different and the shoppers are much better prepared for this.

The worst part of the day was a woman who came into the booth, looked around, complimented my work, and asked me how much one of the paintings was. Well, they are all quite clearly labeled, so I said "all the paintings that size are three-twenty-five." She looked thoughtful for a moment and then said "okay I'd like to get this for my mother." Sweet! So she brought it up to me and handed me a five dollar bill. And I kept looking at her like "aannd...." and she looked at me like "welllll?" I finally pointed to the price tag and said "I think you misunderstood. This is not three dollars and twenty five cents. This is three hundred and twenty five dollars." (like duh, what the price tag says). She said "WHAT?!?!?!" And I said "this is an original painting." And she said "oh hell no, I am going to buy that, it's not THAT good" and she stormed off muttering to her friend about who the bleepity bleep do I think I am. All I could think was "f#$% you, b*&%$!" but I just smiled and said "sorry for the misunderstanding." Bleepity bleep her. Bleep. That really frosted my cookies, and unfortuately tainted the day. Seriously, a big painting for three bucks? I don't think so.

It's that mentality that sometimes makes me hate this business. People just see the price tag, the final cumulative number of hours and expenses that go into a piece, and they think "that's a lot" without stopping to consider the time that went into it. Like art doesn't just happen *poof* I have to create it, whether that's hours or days or weeks or months. People don't see the breakdown when they see the pricetag, they just see it as a big number all that once.

But it all just reinforces how much I am looking forward to getting away from this a little bit and really delving into the scrimshaw. I have gotten so much positive feedback from people who are BIG in that art form, once I get through these art shows and the craziness that is September, I'm really diving in head first and spending a whole lot more time at the scope. Of course I am still taking fine art commissions too. But no more little shows. If it's not an "art show" I don't want to mess around with it. Then again if some commissions come through then maybe that's a reason to do shows that non-art-show people attend. Obviously I'm too tired to be making conclusions tonight.

I did meet a lot of neat people, I know I am sounding way negative right now, but it wasn't all bad! I'm just zonked.

Words cannot express how much I am not looking forward to getting up at 5:30am and taking birds to auction tomorrow. It'll be all about the nap when I get home!

Anyway here's the booth:

Friday, September 14, 2007

what am I forgetting?

The night before an art show means there is usually one main thought in my head: what have I forgotten? Hopefully nothing, but it's happened before! The entire day was spent labeling, organizing, packing, loading, etc. And one final trip into town to get a couple rolls of bubble wrap. I actually finished loading the minivan around 8, so guess what I did tonight. I baked nine and a half dozen chocolate chip cookies. Because I'm a lunatic. No, there's a story there. Last year for Draft Horse Classic I decided that a good way to get to know my fellow exhibitors would be to bake cookies for everyone, since I'm not very good at just going around and saying hi. But walking around the room with a big container of cookies tends to gather the crowd. It worked well, but I know that means I've started a tradition that must be maintained. I won't be taking them all there, I will bring some to the people I am staying with next week, and also I have a potluck to attend later this month. So I froze them all for now. It's been a crazy day. A crazy last few days. I am hoping next week will be easier since I've already done so much. There will be a few other items to pack and label and I'll need to reorganize after tomorrow, but unless I need to get more note cards or something, it should be pretty much good to go. I ordered some new parts for my booth (shelves) so I hope like heck those arrive on time.

Anyway, these are the two paintings I did this week, which will be at the festival tomorrow. I'll take pics of my booth and if I get a chance to wander around I'll take pics all over (don't count on that).

"Mr. Grumpypants" (Dominique rooster)
acrylic on canvas

"Big Mama" (White Laced Red Cornish)
acrylic on canvas

Cross your fingers and wish me luck, there's nothing like going to a new show for the first time...

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I have a few spare seconds, so I thought I'd write a few things. I am stressed out and crazy busy getting ready for the shows. Everything is framed (new stuff pictured below, the ones that aren't matted in white went to Draft Horse Classic), I picked up 680 note cards on Monday (using a new print shop now, they look great. Nothing was wrong with the old print shop other than the turnaround time was often too long for me to deal with when I procrastinate as always). I folded all the cards yesterday but I still need to bag them. I finished two paintings today but need to varnish them still, and scan them. Still need to do all the price tags, pack, figure out the layout for Saturday.

If you are coming to visit on Saturday at the Chicken Festival, you need to look for the GREEN tent. Not a white tent. :-( Oh well. If it's windy I will cry.

I have a new website somewhat up for my scrimshaw, It's a work in progress and the really important stuff (the images and the for sale items) are not yet there. I just don't have time. Aaaaaaack! After the art shows I will be buying some ivory blanks for jewelry. A few people have asked about these, so if you've had some interest in getting a necklace pendant (b/w only for now, still working on the best way to do color work...) think about what size oval you want (18x13mm, 25x18mm, 30x22mm, bigger sizes too) and whether you want a sterling silver or gold-filled mount for it.

I am severely neglecting emails lately, sorry anyone who is waiting to hear from me.

Okay, gotta get back to work, I have approximately a gazillion things to do. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Museum of the Chicken Art Show

Tonight was the Second Saturday reception. I was there til shortly before 8, at which point I was feeling sort of bored so I left. There was a steady stream of people going through the gallery, but it was obvious some visitors aren't into chickens! Thanks CS for visiting. If I missed anyone after I left, sorry!

I started two paintings today for the Chicken Festival. Things will really go nuts starting on Monday when I pick up frames and cards. After that, I pretty much don't get to breathe til about the 25th. Wish me luck.

Here are a bunch of photos from the chicken art show.

And here's one I forgot to post from the State Fair award ceremony:

single combed birds

I have had a request to post these.. So pardon them if you aren't into chickens. ;-)

The really nice SC BBRed cockerel I photographed last time.. I am keeping him around and will possibly show him (as what?) Nick, you have dibs on him (or any of them).

Black Red cockerel (thanks for explaining that). Purebred Rosecomb. Minimal chest coloration, very nearly solid black chest. Nice lobes. Fairly dark back. I use these birds (if rose combed!) for breeding BBReds, I've had good luck with the Black Red males reducing the red ticking in the chests on the BBRed males. If unclaimed, will sell this bird on 9/16.

head of same bird:

Black Red pullet, purebred Rosecomb. Nearly solid black. Looks like she will stay dark faced. So far no darkness in ear lobes. If unclaimed, will sell this bird on 9/16.

head of same bird:

The BBRed pullets are sisters. They are NOT purebred Rosecomb. Their mother is a BBRed Rosecomb. Their father is a golden (?) duckwing crossbred (Silver Duckwing OE X Black RC). So they are 75% Rosecomb. Both are pretty tiny. Ear lobes still questionable. I like this female's color a lot, depending if her lobes stay white I'd consider keeping her. Definitely staying around for now.

head of same bird

The younger pullet. I don't like her color much, she is laced with gold, and I need to avoid this. So if you don't want her I'm taking her to auction on the 16th. If you want her I'll keep her around.

head of same bird

BBRed male with "sebright-style" type, I think he's horribly ugly and can't imagine anyone would want this. So, off to auction if nobody wants him.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Yup, it's begun. The month of stress and worry and less sleep and too much to do and not enough time to do it. First things first, please come visit me at UPCOMING ART SHOWS!!!

Saturday September 8th, Second Saturday gallery reception @ Cje's Art and Fiber Printing, Fair Oaks, CA (this is for the Museum of the Chicken Art Show). 6-9pm. I will be there 6-?.

Saturday September 15th, Fair Oaks Chicken Festival in old town Fair Oaks (I do not know my booth location). 10am-5pm. Admission is free.

Thursday September 20th through Sunday September 23rd, Draft Horse Classic, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley, CA

So.... Friday I took the birds to the fair (left here at 6:15am). Took three chickens, woo hoo. I usually spend the whole day there and see all the horse shows and everything else, but by noon it was over 100 degrees and after a cinnamon roll, a corndog, and a large lemonade, I wasn't feeling too perky in the heat so I headed home and zonked out on the couch. So, it was kinda crappy this year since I didn't see much and none of my chicken buddies were able to stick around. I got best and reserve of class with the birds, which isn't a lot to brag about at that show... I don't know how many birds were there but it wasn't many. I usually go back Saturday to watch the judging, but instead...

I left here in the morning with J&L and headed up to a family reunion in southern Oregon. I slept a little in the car but not nearly enough! It was a 5.5 hour drive. It was great to see the relatives. The Plumers are a wild bunch. Rude, crude, lewd.... thank goodness I'm there to be a good influence eh? ;-) Saturday night was the big dinner thing, followed by sitting around yacking til I couldn't keep my eyes propped open any more.

Sunday morning I was up around 9 and left around 11:30 or noon for a ride on my grandparents' pontoon boat out on a lake that I can't remember the name of. It was really super pretty out there, had a nice time on the boat talking to people, but probably got a bit more sun than I needed (no sunburn, just tired!). We were out there for several lunch stop...hmm. Got back around 4 or so and maybe 15 minutes later got tossed back in the car for a ride up to some rugged mountain property to check out a trip-camera (way awesome photos of a bear on that camera!). It was a steep and winding road but a lot of it looked like a great place to trail ride. :-) Back around 8, dinner, showed off the art portfolio, hit the hay at midnight and slept like a brick.

Monday morning we all went out to my grandparents' house (what a gorgeous place! right along the river!) and yacked for a while. Took off around 12:30ish, delayed over an hour on the bridge over Lake Shasta, home around 8, barely conscious.. I had a great time up there but it was exhausting! :-)

This morning I left at 8 to pick up the birds from the fair. Then JC arrived with the trailer to take Shylah up north. We hung out for a few hours and went to see an adorable newborn foal a few miles away, then J and Shylah left, I hit the couch for a half hour, and then spent the rest of the day setting up note card files for printing.

So now I'm getting into stress-out mode. Gotta get stuff printed and framed in less than a week. Gotta get stuff bagged and labeled and inventoried, pick up the tent, find someone who can take my art to Draft Horse Classic on the 15th since I'm tied up with the chicken thing (crap!!!!), need to get a few things photographed, aaaack. Two art shows back to back is really really a bad idea, this'll test my limits. I really don't anticipate getting much art done this month, unfortunately. I need to do the next stage on the color scrim tomorrow or Thurs. I want to finish a horse painting I started ages ago and maybe try to get some chicken paintings done (I had grand plans for that!) All commissions are on hold til October though.

I gotta go figure out some framing plans, I should try to head out to the shop tomorrow. Or maybe I can just phone it in, I'd better figure out what I need right now!

Here are some pics from Oregon: