Tuesday, July 29, 2008

21 years!

I got my first pair of show chickens (Spangled Old English Game Bantams) twenty-one years ago today. That makes me sound like an old timer!

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 28 work in progress

9x20 inches
colored pencil
(have not spent much time on this drawing in the last few days)

not yet titled
scrimshaw on micarta
1.5 x 4.75 inches

And a closeup:

I've been listening to an audiobook lately while working. This is GREAT! I'm so easily distracted most of the time and usually have about 47 billion thoughts in my head so it's really quite pleasant to be able to listen to someone other than myself, without having the somewhat annoying constant changing of songs every few minutes (normally I listen to music). I'd downloaded two audiobooks before going on The Adventure. I only made it through one of them on the plane, so I've been listening to Bill Bryson's "A Walk In The Woods" and it's really quite funny to be scrimming bears and listening to someone talk about bears and forests and hiking. It's a great book! It gets me thinking more about hiking and camping and wishing it was something I was better at doing, but the truth is I'm really a weenie about it. I dunno, I mean I get to the end of the day and I want a shower and a bed and somewhere to plug in my camera battery charger! Anyway, I get totally engrossed in books and this keeps me on track with art, so I'm going to have to find a way to have this in constant supply, whether audiobooks or books on CD or something.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

short skirts and wild women

Yesterday was the Battle of the Barns show out in Martinez. The theme this year was "Decades" and we (the Bay Area Equestrian Network team) were the USO Girls of 1941. Last year we won the whole show and the costume competition. This year the team seemed a little less structured. And one team member's truck died on Friday and she was unable to bring her horses to the competition so we knew beforehand we'd be getting several very large time penalties in the classes she was supposed to ride. Winning would have been pretty much impossible, and indeed we did not win. We got 7th out of 10 and did not win the costume competition. I rode in only two classes, which made much of the day pretty boring.

I screwed up the joust even worse than I feared I would. I don't want to get into detail but it was mortifyingly bad, probably quite painful to watch. I pretty much wanted to crawl into a hole after that. The only other class I was assigned was the relay, just carrying the baton from one end of the arena to the other and handing off to another rider. Got a little canter out of Shylah in this and it wasn't too bad!

The show benefits a local therapeutic riding center, so it's all for a good cause, and it's fun to hang out with horsey people for a day and certainly good for Shylah to get more exposure to all the crowds and horses and sounds, even if 99% of her day was just being tied to the trailer. But it was a bit of a letdown compared to last year. I'm not sure I would do it again.

And I will not be wearing this outfit on any of my road rides around here. That might attract some unwanted attention. Then again...hmmm... >;-)

Here are some pics from the show though:

Me and the cutest horse on the planet (she later had "USO" in white letters on her butt but this was early in the day):

Aww, she's got stars!:

The team. Left to right is Noelle, Wendy, me, Leesha, Christine, and Alena:

Alena riding Cindy:

Christine riding Tag:

Noelle riding Cadet:

Wendy riding Mischief:

I was sooooooo tired by the end of the day. Amazing how sitting in the sun all day wears a person out! I house-sat out of town in the evening, got back here in the late morning, did a bit of art today (will post WIPs tomorrow), but the thrill of the day was going to see the movie Mamma Mia. What fun! I'm a big ABBA fan and the movie was a hoot. I was half way hoping the crowd would spontaneously burst into song and dance as we left the theater.

I'm whooped.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 25 work in progress

Two nights ago my web host was being moody and last night I was gone, so this is two days worth of WIPs. Wait, where did I leave off (I have to read my blog and find out!) Ah, okay.

I connected the lightly dotted outline (with more dots) so I could better see what I'm doing:

I'm going to start with the foreground and work my way backwards. So for the tree I started with the limbs:

And then put in a "base coat" for the trunk. I'll be working back into this to create the texture of bark, this is just to give it some roundness and a base gray tone:

If you want read my ramblings, I mean words of wisdom, in great detail about how I do scrimshaw and this piece specifically, I am using this piece as a submission in a tutorial contest on The Engraving Forum. You can read all about it here. Can you tell I like to write? If only I had this much to say in person. ;-)

I have not had time to ride for the last few days. Today Shylah got bathed and braided and primped for tomorrow. I'll be spending the day in a ridiculous costume. I'll post pics when I get a chance. Nobody on the team seems too gung ho this year, me included, I think we all just have a lot of other stuff going on in our lives. But hey, I guess we all need to saddle up and wear a skimpy costume at least once a year, it builds character. ;-)

Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


July 23 is a day I never forget. It's been nine years since Thunder died. Hard to believe that, I remember it quite vividly, and yet it seems like soooo long ago that she was part of my life. I sure had some fantastic times with that horse! She was the perfect first horse.

And she had a great canter! I loved riding bareback. I'd just cinch on some saddle pads (no saddle) and ride like that a lot of the time. And she was super easy to canter bareback, she was so smooth (except when bucking, she did have a fondness for bucking). Don't think I could do that with Shylah! I was probably 14 when this was taken, so she was 18. Silly girl, no helmet! I was young and foolish. Sometimes I think about the stuff I did with her and I can't believe how crazy I was!

I was supposed to sell her when left for college. I tried, but there wasn't much interest in an old horse that looked like she might be getting some Cushings problems (she did not totally shed out the last few years of her life). She was 22 when this was taken.
And probably 23 in this pic. She didn't mess with trees, so she got to hang out in the yard a lot. She died at 24 from founder.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22 work in progress

It's starting to get more tolerable. The hard part is figuring out the colors. I have drawn so many chickens and horses I know by heart how to create any shade of brown, or any of the reds and oranges and grays, but throw pink and purple and blue at me and I'm stumped, gotta figure it out as I go. It's not like I just take one pencil and color something in. Oh no, haha, far from it. Depending on the color there are anywhere from 1 (rare, that would usually be a patch of solid white or solid black) to 12 layers of color, from light to dark. Unlike paint, there's no mixing on a palette, it's all mixed right on the paper! Layers and layers and layers of color...

It's really sort of abstract right now, that's hard for me! I want some lines!

9x20 inches
colored pencil on cream Stonehenge paper

Monday, July 21, 2008

June 21 lack of progress

It was a pretty scattered day, lots to do but not a lot of time for any one thing, so the progress on the drawing is less than impressive, I'll wait and show you tomorrow.

I'm submitting my bear cub scrim as a "tutorial" (hmm, more like work in progress, I don't feel qualified to tutor anyone about scrim yet) on an online forum, so I'll be back to poking holes on that again. In case you've forgotten, here's where we left off. The outline is there, barely visible.

Don't believe me? Here's a closeup:

Shylah almost redeemed herself on tonight's ride. She was great until we got to the end of the road to turn around and then I swear it's like her brain just fell out. She was all snorty at trash cans on one side of the road (OMG how many hundreds of time has she seen our garbage cans, everyone out here has the SAME ones) and then a big barking dog on the other side of the road. Jeez, getting her to go between them I might have been walking through walls of flame or something. And then the horse on the corner in the corral was all snorty so that didn't help, and she spooked big time at three large pigs. What do I do? I keep her feet moving in the direction that I want them to go, which is usually opposite the direction she wants to go, or at least at a different speed. I make her think, back up, circle, etc (granted this is a little hard to do on the road, if she's being stupid and a car is coming I just hop off, I have no qualms about dismounting, I'd rather have a skittish horse in hand than find myself spattered on the road if she spooks into a passing car.) I gotta say most of the time she's absolutely great but when she gets into stupid mode I just can't figure it out. Gotta keep doing it I guess, convince her that the trash cans won't eat her.

and the prize goes to...

Me! Well sort of.. Just found out that my two entries in the California State Fair Fine Art show ("Aragorn at One Year" and "Jessie") both received an Award of Merit. Technically that's kinda like Honorable Mention, but it sounds cooler. My art is just too normal for them! ;-) One of these years I must do a horribly ugly abstract piece. I even know the title already!

The reception is on a night when I have dance class. Hmmm, which one to attend....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

random crap

Well, no sooner do I finish telling everyone how great Shylah is when we have a day like today. Absolutely rotten little brat today, that was the worst ride I've had on her. My calm horse was a spooky, balky freakazoid. When we got back from the road ride (that's supposed to be fun!) I cantered her a few zillion laps around the round pen until she was absolutely worn out. Cantering of course being her least pleasant gait I'm curious who will be more sore tomorrow, me or her! (Yeah, I'm guessing me!)

The Battle of the Barns show is coming up on Saturday. I practiced a little jousting this morning before hitting the road. I will not make it as a professional jouster, I am sad to say. However, if I give up that class then I'm only riding in one other (the downside of having a slowpoke trotting horse is they don't put you in the speed classes!). So... eh.. The outfit this year is slightly less objectionable than last year's, but only slightly. Actually my biggest complaint is it's so scratchy! I'll post pics after it's done. :-)

More random bug pics today! I actually like these bugs though. I am still using the Coolpix camera for macro shots (I have not looked into getting it fixed, the flash is dead). I would like to get a macro lens for the D80, but for now, this works!

Now that is one smug looking bug.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 19 work in progress

Some drawings practically draw themselves. This is not one of them. I think my struggle with this piece is probably all my head, because it's a subject matter I tend to avidly avoid, but I'm making myself do this to prove that I can. Of course I can! At its most basic form, everything is line, color, and texture. Just takes a bit of convincing sometimes. :-) ("But these aren't the colors I normally use!" "But it's not an animal!" "But but but" Yeah...) I'm sure this will have a moment where it all clicks into place. It just isn't there yet...

In total randomness, I found a dead scarab beetle on the sidewalk and took some pictures this afternoon. Pictures similar to these were one of the first things I ever posted when I started blogging three years ago (wow, three years and I haven't scared you all off yet!). That one was alive though. These things are out in the garden/orchard all the time, they're huge and buzzy and scare the bejeebers out of me. I know these are kinda gross, I'm not a bug fan, but I think that color is way cool.

By my standards this is a huge bug. If I ever encountered one of those really giant rainforest beetles I'd probably keel over.

And on a cuter note, nap buddies...awwww.... :-) (Olin and Jessie)

Friday, July 18, 2008

July 18 work in progress

Ha ha, this does not photograph well at night! That yellow color looks pretty gross here, it's much prettier in person. What is this? Eh, you'll see. I'll give you the title later.

9x20 inches
colored pencil on cream Stonehenge paper

In other news, I sold the scrimshaw Nude #2 today. :-)

paved trail rides

That's what I used to call them with Thunder, "paved trail rides." Thunder was a great road horse. Gwen was great around traffic but she has that sneaky aspect to her personality that has always felt dangerous. Shylah has the makings of a great road horse too. Why I haven't done this more with her, well... I'm a wimp? It's the moment of going for it that's hard, but then I find out it's not so bad after all and it gets easier. I'm like this with life in general sometimes! :-)

I've had Shylah out almost every day this week for a few-mile ride. She's really good around cars. Big rigs (only seen one and I was dismounted at the time) may be a little iffy. Have not yet seen a motorcycle. Little yappy anklebiter dogs concern her. Sheep might be dangerous. But overall she's been very good and I've run into a few people along the way who want to chat and that's fun. I saw my hay guy this morning, he said the hay went up another $3.50 per bale between the first cutting and the second cutting. Good grief! Good thing I got first cutting! The feed store has grass hay for $14something per bale. That's insane. (BK you asked about the bale size, they are larger/heavier than the ones you have).

Anyway, it's just a matter of telling myself that even though I don't have great mountain trails in my backyard, or live along the river anymore, it doesn't mean I can't still get out around here and have a lot of fun with a great horse. Of course I still need to mooch trailer rides. The paper had a nice article about the El Dorado Trail the other day... that sounds fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Adventure: June 29: saying goodbye

As written in my journal on the 29th, edited now with comments in parentheses:

"Today I leave. Seems weird to be packing up again, as it really does not feel like I've been here very long at all. (hopefully I did not completely drive B insane!). I am going to miss this place and the animals and the scenery and pretty much everything about it. I am so glad I came on this trip. I have had a wonderful time here and wouldn't trade that for anything. I am so hyped up about art now, I must get my art into this place. I just hope I can maintain this enthusiasm when I get back to my relatively dull existence in the sweltering valley that is Sacramento. I hope to return here some day. I have so many fond memories from this trip."

So yeah, it was hard to leave, it felt like a very short ten days. I told myself that morning that I would not cry... phsaw yeah I totally did, a lot, it was a little embarrassing. :-) I'm not good with goodbye, and for ten days that was home and family and so much fun, and it was hard to leave.

If you haven't already figured it out, I had a great time. :-) The Adventure of a lifetime, but hopefully not just once in a lifetime. Being back home has been a big adjustment for a lot of reasons. I loved it up there. I really could see myself in a place like that. I know, I know, the winter would suck, but I'd stay in and make a lot of art. Anyway I have to have something to complain about on the blog! ;-) For now, you're stuck with me whining about summer in the valley. Artistically speaking, that place and I were a perfect match, I can't stop thinking about Jackson Hole. I WILL go back. I've traveled a lot but never has a place really pulled at me like this, I can't shake it. It is hard to keep the enthusiasm when I'm here. I have a list of art pieces to create that I think would be real assets to my portfolio as far as seeking gallery representation there. I am applying to an art show that takes place there in September 2009, but it's not a show I'd have to be present for (though if I got in I'd sure as heck go see it!). I will not get into details on this now. If I could find a way to spend a long time up there, like even a whole summer, and do a string of art shows, I'd jump on that.

To my dear friend B: thank you for the Adventure. I sincerely hope I see you again some day. I hope you stay there, I'll need someone to check in on those galleries and make sure they're displaying my stuff properly. ;-) May the Force be with you, and may "four hundred children" always make you laugh. And write that book gosh darn it!!!

So long critters!

See ya Tetons!

Farewell Jackson Hole!

Such memories. :-) Happy Trails!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

photographing turkeys

Oh yeah, now that's more like it!

There is this group of 2 adult females and 10 babies that I see around here every day. They're pretty cute.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Adventure: June 28: Granite Canyon Trail Ride

It was another lazy morning until the farrier came out and reshod Amigo (remember he lost a shoe a few days earlier in Teton Canyon). However, considering his problems with navicular disease he was still too sore for a ride that day so that ruled out another jaunt through the field.

So lacking any other specific plans it was decided that we would go out to Jackson Hole and trail ride with B's friend R. R has Rocky Mountain horses, I'd never ridden one of those before. Size-wise similar to Shylah (in height AND girth, lol). ;-) I'd also never ridden in an Australian saddle before. It was pretty cushy. My horse for the day was a chestnut mare named Sugar. She was okay but we didn't really click and she was kinda disrespectful at times (and not the time and place for me to do anything about that), so it wasn't as fun a ride as the previous ones had been. However, I did enjoy getting to do some gaiting, she was really really smooth and that was a lot fun. She weren't no Shylah or Sara though! :-)

Here are pics from the ride. This was in Granite Canyon (aptly named!) which is in the Grand Teton National Park. A lot of my pics came out very blurry, perhaps an indication that the coolpix camera was starting to have some problems.

Hmm, could that be some granite there in the canyon?

Look at those ears, she's contemplating tossing me in the river and making a run for it (she was NOT a fan of water and got airplane ears every time we were near it).

And then we saw bears. Bears! Plural! A female and two cubs! And where was my camera? Why it was turned off and put away in the camera bag. Why? Because I'd had to dismount and fix the saddle when Sugar suddenly managed to deflate and I started slipping over the side. And somehow it didn't dawn on me to get the camera back out. Yeah, I really have impeccable timing sometimes. See those brown blobs? Those are bears. We were REALLY close, like "OMG do we need to turn around?" close. I was concerned what the horses would do, recalling when Shylah saw a bear once. Eh, the horses were fine. I was in a bad photo spot, and the camera was slow and not focusing where I wanted it to.

The cute blob with the face is one of the cubs. Oh these are cinnamon bears. Or are they called cinnamon black bears?

Back view of the bear blob.


We all went to dinner at a little place in town, and on the way back what should I see but moose #3! Now I thought the third time was supposed to be a charm, but it was almost dark and she was moving fast and was looong gone by the time we turned around. Foiled again! Sadly, I have no moose photos to show you. :-( That of course means I just have to go back some day.

Next: my last day, sigh...

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 14 work in progress

The second illustrated matboard is now done. Geez that took a long time! ;-) I just can't decide which side is "up." (BM, if you have a preference let me know, since you're the one who'll be looking at it). I put 24 color names into a box and picked them out random, that's how the colors ended up in the order they are, if anyone's wondering.

I need to write a contract and invoice tomorrow morning for two new commissions. But the next drawing, well, I think I know what it's going to be. Something different. Might surprise you. Might surprise me! Something I've avoided doing for a long time but recently think maybe wouldn't be so bad after all. And I'll be working on the bear scrim again.

I took Shylah road-riding tonight. Well, half a road ride anyway. I hadn't had her out on the road for a while, and I think the last time might have been with another horse. Hmm, or maybe not. Anyway, it had been a while so I figured I'd just take her for a walk after doing some "arena work" in the field across the street for a while. There are so many yuppies out here now a person gets a lot of funny looks just for being out with a horse, but one gets even more looks for leading a saddled horse down the street ("hey, you're supposed to be riding the horse!"). It's an interesting way to meet new neighbors though (I consider anyone on this road to be a neighbor). So anyway I led her all the way down to the end of the road (1 mile) and figured since that went fine I'd hop on and ride all the way back. No problemo. We were losing daylight though so I had to trot part of it. If I did a lot of that I'd need to either think about getting her shod or getting her fitted for boots.

Some day, when the weather is good and I have a few hours to kill, I am going to ride her to the post office. :-) Road riding is dangerous, that concerns me, but unless she sprouts wings (or I do) the only way for me to get anywhere is to hit the road.

Oh! And I'm not done with Adventure tales yet. Can't top the wolves, though there was something pretty cool on the 28th, which I failed miserably at photographing, but there are still two days to talk about! I'll try to get through the rest of the pics tonight...maybe...

and the official word is...

Draft Horse Classic: I'm in! "Thankful" and "Sunday Morning" were both accepted, as was my booth. I actually found this out "through the grapevine" about a week ago but wanted to get official notice before I said anything.

So, September 18-21, 2008 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, CA. Put it on your calendar, it's a great show!

Woo hoo!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Adventure: June 27: Yellowstone: the grand finale

After taking all those eagle pics, we hoofed it on back to the truck and headed onward toward the exit. Bryan was in a hurry as he needed to be somewhere, so the eagles were to be the last of the photo-stops. He looked over at me and smiled and said something like "well, we saw everything but bears and wolves, that's pretty good." I agreed that was pretty fantastic (other than lacking photographic proof of mooses). It couldn't have been more than ten seconds later, as I stared absentmindedly out the window, saying goodbye to this wonderful place, that I saw a female elk running along the bank on the far side of the river. Wow pretty, I thought. B saw her too and said "did you see that elk?" "Yup."

And then my eyeballs just about fell out of my head and my jaw dropped open and I said something totally unladylike, like "oh sh*t, there's a wolf chasing her!!!!"

A WOLF!!!! Did you catch that!? A wolf!!! Chasing the elk!!! OMG!!!!

Well that was the quickest U-turn on the face of the planet. Time crunch be danged, we were barreling back down the road trying to catch up! We were sure we'd missed them, they must have gone up into the trees along the other side. B pulled off on a side road that went down to the river. We saw no sign of them, but figuring "what the heck" I said let me hop out and I scrambled down a trail to the shore, with my camera of course! I expected they were long gone, so imagine my complete surprise when I saw the elk cow in the middle of the river, heading back toward the riverbank on the other side. I fumbled for a moment, and that was as long as it took her to get out of the water and head up the bank:

Well cool, I thought, she must have lost the wolf and I got some neat pictures of her.

And again my eyeballs about fell out of my head when suddenly from around the bend I saw a wolf in the river, swimming toward shore. I just held the shutter down and shot, grinning like an idiot and thinking "I can't believe I'm seeing this."

Somewhere in the course of all this two more people showed up, they had also been following the elk but thought they'd lost her til they saw B's truck turn around and head down this side road. I can't remember if B had walked up by this point. Was it then that they said something about having seen two wolves?

Second wolf?

OMG! Yes, a second one, running along the far shore. This is the one I had seen chasing her originally, I had no idea there were two!

And just like that they were gone, and I think we were all standing there with looks of absolute shock on our faces. Had we been even seconds earlier or later we would have missed the whole thing. I still can't believe I saw that. What happened to the elk, I don't know. She seemed to have a pretty good head start on those wolves, but in what way nature ended up taking its course, I have no idea. That was the last thing I would have ever expected to see. I didn't even think about wolves because I thought "no way." I'm still just sitting here kinda shaking my head because I can't believe we saw that. Talk about once in a lifetime!

Fate, I tell ya, fate!

I don't think I stopped smiling the entire way back to Teton County. Actually I haven't smiled as much as I did on this trip in a long time. And every now and then one of us would say "I can't believe we saw that!" The ride back was gorgeous, that part of Montana is OMG beautiful, and B said it was the area where "A River Runs Through It" was filmed. Stunning. Unfortunately I did not see Brad Pitt's character wandering around, or I might have done something embarrassing like throw myself at him. ;-)

Wow. Wow. Wow. Still in shock!