Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Sentinel" game fowl drawing

(Racey Mug Game Fowl)
9.5 by 13 inches
colored pencil and graphite on tan Stonehenge paper
sold (custom commission)

The background may look "simple" but there are about a dozen layers of color there!

Friday, July 29, 2011

a fair day

I spent half my day at the State Fair today, which just makes me think "holy crap" because that could not possibly have been a year since I last did that... and yet it was. Criminy. Today is my 24th anniversary with chickens. Yes, July 29, 1987 was the day I got my very first birds, a pair of Spangled Old English Game Bantams. So, that means this is my 22nd year showing at State Fair!

I took two birds in today for the open poultry show, a Black hen and a Black Breasted Red hen. I don't expect to do much damage with them. There are not a lot of birds there (a hundred?) and they're all in fairly equal states of un-condition. This is NOT prime time for poultry. This is the time of year when birds lose all their feathers. State Fair is a big deal for other animals species, but is not a big deal in the poultry show world. The "fair circuit" is not part of what us chicken people would consider the show circuit. But it's still nice to win, and who doesn't love golden bear trophies! The trophies are awesome. I show just for the chance at winning one. That and it's tradition.

Speaking of traditions, State Fair is full of them for me. Like cinnamon rolls, for example. My fair day must begin with one of those giant freshly baked cinnamon rolls, preferably eaten in the company of a particular one of my "fowl" friends, so it was lovely to do that this morning. :-) After that though I was on my own, so I had to do things like play "find the bad taxidermy" all alone. Not nearly as fun as a solo venture as it was years ago. State Fair used to be absolutely teeming with bad taxidermy. Nowadays, not so much. Last year I don't think I found any. This year I found one county exhibit that was just bursting with poorly stuffed waterfowl. Glee! I had nobody to share my glee with, but I took a picture for proof!

Anyway, there are things about State Fair that I love. The animals, the arts and crafts... well all the handmade stuff really. And there are things I hate about the fair. All the commercialization, I just avoid all the vendors. The "good old fashioned" parts of the fair seem to be a small part of it, but they still exist. There was a whole building dedicated to a display of fair nostalgia this year, that was cool. A glimpse into the glory days, when it really WAS about agriculture and competitions and livestock and home-made stuff... you know, all the things that fairs seem to want to do away with now! It has changed even since I was a kid, the animal shows are way smaller, the horse display was pathetically small this year. I don't like to see that change. And yet every year I say "I don't know if I'll show there again next year." I really never do know from year to year, just depends what's going on and what condition the birds are in!

I still say the best fair I have ever been to was the one I went to in England. Now THAT was what a fair should be! Do they still make them like that in the US? In California? Here are the links to the pics of the fair in England that I went to back in 2006. Here, here, here, here, and here!

Here are a few of the things I saw today that made me smile.

A handmade rocking horse! That's awesome. Speaking of rocking horses, there have been a few for sale on CL lately that I'm oh so tempted to buy and restore, but really, I have enough to do!

Handmade finger puppets. Shrek! Look at Puss n Boots with the big eyeballs, OMG I about died of cuteness overload. And Star Wars! Chewbacca as a finger puppet, gah!

Anyway, I'm rapidly running out of awakeness, it's been a long day, so off I go! I'll pick up my birds next week, and supposedly a friend will call me tomorrow if I win anything. Don't hold your breath! ;-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

did I mention I like to bake?

Those of you who aren't facebookers have been missing out on a steady parade of dessert photos. I enjoy baking already, and do so on a fairly regular basis, but have been baking like a crazy person lately because, as I mentioned in another post, I'm testing a whole stack of dessert recipes for the upcoming wedding of a friend.

So I'm just going to tease you with some wonderfulness that I've made in the last few months. Try not to lick your computer screen, it won't work...

And lest you think I eat of all of these entirely myself, no no no!!! They are shared widely among friends and family!

Lemon-Filled Coconut Cake:

Chocolate Mint Meringues:

Peach Pie:

Mini Cinnamon Rolls (made from leftover pie dough!)

Yellow Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

Apricot Pie:

Fudge Brownies with Ice Cream:

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies:

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

Chocolate Ice Cream Cake with Baskin Robbins Gold Medal Ribbon Ice Cream:

Mini Pecan Tarts:

Chocolate Coconut Mint Squares:

Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies:

Mini Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes:

Yellow Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

Blackberry Crunch Cake:

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes:

Lemon Cream Shortbread Tarts:

Doubletree Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Blackberry Pie:

Some feller out there is seriously missing out on me! ;-) Not just the baking, but all my other supremely awesome qualities, of course. Golly, talk about shameless self-promotion eh? Ha ha ha ohhh yeah...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BIG project sneak peak!

If you're wondering about the big scrimshaw project I've mentioned a little bit, here's a sneak peak at the "canvas" (um, ivory!) on which I will be working. Those are grips for a Colt 1911, and an incredibly gorgeous Bowie knife. The theme: The Greatest Generation. I'm working on preliminary stuff now, sketches, ideas, making a million revisions before I even show my client, etc. This is where I LOVE photoshop, I can do a lot of my "sketching" there, and it's so much easier to selectively edit, add, delete, resize parts, etc.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

oh yes, I'm still kickin!

I read several blogs, and some people's lives seem so incredibly fascinating. Mine doesn't seem like it would have that same appeal, and yet people have told me they live vicariously through me. Me? Really? Well okay... I'll try to spice it up for you, it's been pretty bland lately.

Anyway I haven't been too good at coming up with things to write about lately, obviously. If there's something you'd like to know about, leave a comment! Ask a question! Unless it's horribly personal I'll probably answer it, unless I forget, which is likely, because my brain is in about 12 zillion different places.

I can't quite bring myself to bore you with the details of my daily life, it's not that interesting. And if it was that interesting I'd probably want to keep that to myself. ;-)

But here's what I've been up to lately:

Finished a drawing, pending approval.
Started preliminary work for HUGE scrimshaw project.
Have made 5 batches of jam (so far!), picked 27 pounds of blackberries (so far!), baking like crazy person.
Endlessly trying to organize/clean all my art stuff.
Raising too many chickens.

I did not do my spring sale on art this year. I may do a summer sale. That sounds better than fall sale. We'll see, I know you're all clamoring for art. :-) Right??

I am eagerly and anxiously awaiting word from an art show, cross your fingers and toes that I get in...

Anyway, I've obviously left out all the scintillating details but that's been life, in a nutshell. :-)

And I know it's still an hour before the 27th, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOUGLAS!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I guess I needed a reminder

Years ago I swore off ever showing art at a "craft show" or an outdoor venue ever again. Years went past, and my resolve slipped a bit, and I decided to have a booth at the Corn Festival. It was local and easy and didn't require a whole lot of prep work. And I only brought the "cheap stuff" (prints, cards, and old work that is heavily marked down to absurd clearance prices). It was a nice festival, please don't think I'm dissing the festival or the people involved, and I'm grateful for the people who came to visit me there and helped pass the time, but I was reminded of the many many many reasons why I chose not to ever show work at craft fairs or outdoor venues. It's a bad fit for an "artist" being in a sea of aprons and pot-holders and insanely cheap garden art, nobody is there looking for fine art! And stuff gets dirty, damp, and things that are made out of paper (like my really nice sign!) warp and now have to be replaced.

So yeah, I hereby swear to never again show art at anything that is not an ART SHOW and that doesn't have four solid walls, temperature controls, a roof, and a floor that can be vacuumed!

Picky? Yes. Well, one-day partial-outdoor shows might be negotiable, but nothing that requires leaving anything overnight!!!

Anyway it's not bad to be picky. :-)

Jan and I hanging out at the booth:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Art at the Davis Ranch Corn Festival

Heads up! I'm showing a little art at the Davis Ranch Corn Festival in Sloughhouse this weekend! That's 9am til 4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Davis Ranch on Jackson Road, you know, the infamous sweet corn and Christmas tree place!

I will have lots of small things available; note cards, prints, little paintings, etc. Come on out and say hi! And get some corn! And buy some art! :-)

Here is their website!

Monday, July 11, 2011

the barn owls fledged!

I was so surprised to walk into the barn this morning, look up, and see three heart-shaped faces peering down at me. Goodness, the owl babies were out of the box! Somehow I was expecting them to leave the box one at a time. I know that when I looked inside the box there were 4 babies. At first I thought maybe the youngest was still in the box. Could be, but more likely I think one had already left the barn by the time I saw them this morning. I'm glad I took some photos when I did because by late afternoon all three had flown out of the barn to parts unknown. One out over the pasture, one to the trees along the creek, and one was behind some boards in the wood shed last time I saw it. It's not stuck, and it was making threat postures at me, so I left it alone but will check tomorrow to see that it has come out of there.

Anyway, it was hard to narrow down the photos, so here are a bunch of them! According to my book, these guys are 50something days old now.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

and then I drove all over the place some more

I told myself I would never turn into one of those slacker bloggers, those people who only update on a weekly basis. Oops. Evidently I've let things slide a bit around these parts. I think my "gone all the time" time is finally over, so I'll be staying home and putting pencil to paper, and needle to ivory, a lot more. But for one last adventure I took off last Thursday and headed north, with two chickens, to Jen's place (200 miles).

On Friday, she and I went over to the coast for a poultry show in Eureka (170 miles). Have you ever driven on highway 299? I have many times, but I seem to forget from one time to the next just how windy that road is! Here is the one photo I took on the whole trip, because this entertained me ever so much, in a sad way. This was at a rest stop on 299:

So it was strange to wake up to cool foggy weather in Eureka on Saturday morning. Cool and foggy are not things that one experiences in the central valley in July. It was a small poultry show, around 100 birds, and really it's just an excuse to get together and see people on the "off season." I have missed this show for the last several years due to various date conflicts, so I'm glad I could go this time. It was really great to see people! And of course in keeping with tradition I had to walk to the back of the fairgrounds and see all the horses and play with the many cats that live at the boarding stables. One of my birds won reserve of class, but in a show of this size that's not really anything to brag about. My friend Dan won the show with one of his Golden Sebrights. Lunch was amazingly delicious as always, and it was a great day.

Oh, get this! It was a moment I thought might never happen, a moment I have awaited for YEARS. Drum roll please.... I GOT MY STANDARD!!!! For reals! Yes! The 2010 American Standard of Perfection that I drew all those chickens for all those years ago! I now have one! And therefore I finally, FINALLY, believe that it truly exists. I was a tad giddy, and I just have to say it's kind of amazing and freakin cool and still a little unreal to see my drawings in there. I grew up idolizing that book. And now I'm in it. *Squeal!*

Here I am modeling the large Buff Cornish, only because I happened to open that page and conveniently I think the sponsors of those illustrations might just happen to read this blog.

Anyway... we headed back over the mountains on Saturday afternoon (170 miles) and it was about twelve billion degrees in Oak Run. We went trail riding on Sunday morning, I rode a very adorable Gypsy gelding named Clancy. He's beautiful, headstrong, food-oriented, and rather lazy. Hmm, yes, sounds like a male equivalent of Shylah! The ride was nice aside from being stupidly hot, and I did see a juvenile golden eagle. Monday morning I got to help with the cows, which were brought in the night beforehand for vaccines and deworming and castrating... Ah, it was like going back to my roots waving my arms around and thwacking cows with tree branches to keep them from running me over... Aside from that, well, since it was stupidly hot we watched a lot of movies!

And then on Tuesday, I got to do the really exciting (not) drive back to Wilton (200 miles). Boy have I seen a lot of I-5 lately. It's uncanny how so often within a week of driving to San Diego I end up going up north as well.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, everything is just chugging along. I have oodles of "pet quality" birds to sell. I will have show/breeding birds available in a few months, but I don't yet know what varieties and in what quantities, so please don't ask. And of course as with the past few years, my bird outlook right now is "I don't know what to do." I really don't.

I've been baking all sorts of goodies from the wedding list (I talked about that in a previous post). It's lots of fun, I post all the pics on facebook but I'll post a bunch here too eventually, just to make you drool.... The apricots in the orchard are just about ripe. It's an ugly crop this year, and not a lot. I think I'll be grinding them all up for either jam or puree (for my infamous apricot kolachky pastries). I started picking blackberries tonight. 2.5 pounds so far, and it should be a HUGE crop this year because we had so much rain.

I started writing this a few hours ago and then got sidetracked with about a zillion other things, and now I don't remember what the heck I was going to say anyway, so I'll just stop, because I really could ramble on an on for quite a while in some sort of long run-on sentence that would lead you to believe nobody ever lets me talk even though that's really not the case; I just happen to write quite a lot compared to how much I talk.

HA HA! OH I crack myself up! ;-)

Yeah, I'll stop now...