Wednesday, July 25, 2012

puzzling over the next project(s)

There are two projects I'm attempting to start on.  They both have been on the list for a LONG time, and they both have me pretty thoroughly stumped.  Sometimes composition comes so easily.  Other times... not so much.  One's a drawing, one's scrimshaw.  I'll only be able to show the scrimshaw on here at this time.

Here's the surface I'll be working on:

That's an ivory hammer head, and it was custom made for me to work on.  I'm creating a piece for John Rohner's engraving hammer collection.  To my knowledge this is the only ivory one that's been made so far.  Obviously a real engraving hammer would not be made of ivory!  Over many decades, Mr. Rohner has asked various engravers to engrave a hammer head for him.  It's a tremendous honor, and I think I've been a little intimidated to actually work on it...  The design is totally up to me, with just one specification: he wants me to include a grizzly bear.  I've been brainstorming for a long time about this, and in the last few days have sketched out numerous ideas.  I think I'm getting a bit closer to something good.  But I only have one part of it figured out for certain, and that's the flat face of the hammer.  So although I prefer to have things all figured out before I start, I think I'll go ahead and start work on the face even though I'm still not 100% sure what I'm going to do on the sides or on the back.  Whatever I decide to do won't change the face though, so maybe I need to just get this thing on the bench and see what develops!

As for the drawing that's got me stumped, well, I'm sure I'll have an "aha!"moment pretty soon.  Maybe I need to go outside and wander around the horse corrals for inspiration.  ;-)

"Lady Gouldi-Hen"

A bit of whimsy...

This is a custom piece I did for a friend/client. She got the idea for it years ago when I drew a couple of chickens with the plumage coloration of other types of birds (eagle, hawk). She wanted this hen to have the plumage color of a Gouldian Finch. Definitely used some colors that don't normally find their way into chicken art! ;-)

"Lady Gouldi-Hen"
colored pencil and graphite on white Stonehenge paper
6.25 by 12 inches
sold, custom commission by the blog commenter who goes by "BMc"  :-)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Olin is here

I moved my cat Olin up here a week ago.  He's actually handling the change MUCH better than I expected.  I was dreading all-night-meowing, thinking he'd be doing naughty things to my furniture.  So far he hasn't done any of that, though he does tend to want to get up between 4 and 5 in the morning and climb on things he's not supposed to be climbing on, which sometimes involves me stumbling out of bed to remove him from atop something precarious.  But mostly, he sleeps...  He's got one of those pheromone collars on, I read all sorts of good reviews about how they keep cats calm through things that would normally freak cats out.  I have to think that's helping, because he does seem unusually calm, even for him.  And he's EXTREMELY affectionate.  If that's a side-effect of the collar, I like it!  Or maybe he had just missed me in the month I didn't see him.  Why can't I get that response from anyone else...  ;-)

I still have a few doubts about how well this'll work out in the long run.  I think he's bored.  I don't want him to go outdoors though.  He's a fighter and a wanderer.  There are a couple cats around, some feral and some not.  There are also coyotes and eagles and bears and all manner of things that would like to eat a cat.  And I'm hoping that lack of exposure to outdoor crud will put an end to his allergies.  But... bottom line I want him to be happy, and not drive me crazy.  So I guess it's kind of a trial run right now.  I know if it came down to it he could live down in Wilton at my mom's house, but it's SO NICE to have him here, I missed him so much, and he doesn't act sweet to anyone else, I'm his person!

So here's hoping he continues to handle indoor living as well as he has done so far, because I really love that he's here.  :-)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21 work in progress

The fun thing about doing custom work is getting to draw things that were invented in someone else's mind.  :-)  Told ya it would be colorful!  Not done yet...

Monday, July 09, 2012

July 9 work in progress

This is one that's been "on the list" for quite some time!  This is a very colorful custom piece I'm doing for one of my most colorful friends.  :-)  I think she might own more of my originals than anyone else.  This kinda dates back to when I was tinkering with what I called "Fantasy Fowl" which were drawings of chickens that had the plumage color of other species of birds.

I seem to recall she had a title picked out but I can't recall what it is right now!

peafowl update and other things

Peafowl: After three weeks of being crated after breaking her leg, I let Nara out of the crate and into the aviary last Monday.  She'd been starting to put some weight on the leg and use it for scratching herself, so it seemed like the right time to allow some mobility.  She'd seemed pretty content in the crate all along, very calm.  She came out quietly, and unlike chickens there was no drama amongst the birds.  Omar and Jovi both came up to her and they did a lot standing around quietly with their heads together.  Funny birds.  And Nara still definitely outranks Jovi.

She continues to make progress.  She's walking on the broken leg, though she has a severe limp, and I don't think the bone healed straight.  But that she's putting her weight on it after just, well, now four weeks, that's impressive.  They will stay penned up in the aviary for at least probably another month.  I won't release them until she is as healed as she'll get, and until they are totally settled down.  They are MUCH more calm now, consistently coming up to me for treats, rarely pacing, etc.  Omar has started to display a lot more often, though they are still very quiet (which tells me they're not settled in yet, he gets pretty loud when he feels like he has a territory of his own!).

I think Nara will likely always limp.  I just need to be sure that she is able to roost at night.  Time will tell.


Chickens: I haven't seen them for almost a month now.  They're still down at my mom's place in Wilton.  I'll head down this coming weekend to check on things and take as many as I can to auction.  I'm not sure when they'll be coming up here, but I look forward to that happening.  The new chicken coop is currently in a pile in the driveway; it's one of those metal carports.  All in due time, and in the mean time I'll be back and forth every few weeks...


Other animals:  I miss them.  My old mare Gwen stayed down in Wilton, and there she will live until the time comes for her to go to the great pasture in the sky.  A few times in the last few years, I've thought that time was imminent, but thus far she's proven me wrong...  Of course I miss Angus, my walking buddy.  A lot of my friends were aghast that he wasn't coming with me, but believe me there is NO way that would have worked.  I live in less than 400 square feet of space, atop what I affectionally refer to as the "stairway of doom" because it's really more ladder than stairs.  That's not a combination of features that would work for 104 pounds of flatulent dog.

And of course I miss the heck out of the cats, particularly Olin.  I am still planning to bring Olin up here to live with me.  I second-guess this all the time.  He's been an indoor/outdoor cat all his life, he would have to be indoor-only here (too many things that would want to eat him).  He would miss the other cat, Homer.  I have to wonder if I'm really being fair to him, but if you've ever had a special bond with a particular animal, then you know how I feel without him here.  It's like I've left a body part behind, I need him.  And in the back of my mind I know that if it just totally didn't work, if he was miserable and made me miserable too, he could always go back to Wilton, and I'd see him when I'm down there.  But I'm his human, the only one he really is friendly toward.  So I think he needs me too.  :-)


Life up here: Well, it's hot.  But it's hot down in the Sacramento Valley too.  Actually it's been rainy up here a few times, which is totally cool.  It's so beautiful up here, I go out walking or riding and absolutely marvel at the view.  Lassen in one direction, Shasta in another.  The loft is sooooo close to totally unpacked.  I'm living in it, have been for... uh, maybe two weeks now?  It's a pretty awesome space, I have to say.  :-)  The last of the shelves were just put up yesterday, so I unpacked a few more boxes this morning.  Of course that means it's a disaster zone again, so I need to find the time to get it all tidied up and vacuumed for the umpty-billionth time.  And then I'll be ready for visitors!

I still feel weird using the word "home" for any particular location.  It'll happen, but life still feels strange.  I've been up here as a visitor so many times in the last 10 (11?) years, there's this strange little "shouldn't I be going home soon?" feeling as though I don't want to overstay my welcome, but well, here I am, they're stuck with me.  :-)  I'm trying hard to get back into a normal routine though... gettin' there...  I seem to have misplaced a number of items (how?!  They have to be within this space!!) and there's still a long list of things I need to get.

I really wanted to throw myself a small going-away party down in Wilton, but I feel like it's too late now.  Other than moving the birds and a few odds and ends, I'm already gone.  Blarg, I don't know...  There are lots of people I miss...  What do you think, too late?  Can't very well have a house-warming, nobody would drive all the way up here!  ;-)

Okay, back to work.  I'll show you some progress on a new drawing tonight if I can.

Gwen drawing finished

I finished this about a week ago.  I was on a deadline to get it done before I needed to leave town.  I'll be honest, if I could go back and do some things differently I would.  And likely I will make some changes to it after the show where I needed to enter it.  This isn't a custom piece, it's something I did for myself, a portrait of my mare Gwen, who lives 200 miles away from me now.

"Gwen in the late fall"
10.5 by 12.5 inches
graphite and charcoal on velour
not for sale

Sunday, July 01, 2012

maybe not the best buckaroos...

So, if you're one of my Facebook people, you saw the post last night saying how my horse Shylah and I would be helping out with a cattle roundup today, helping look for and gather 8 or 9 stray yearlings on one of the neighboring properties.  Seeing as how this is totally unlike anything I've ever done, I was a little apprehensive.  And if you know Shylah at all, you're probably thinking "hmm, she's not so much into things that involve moving quickly."  Yeah...

Actually it was fun, although it showed how EXTREMELY out of shape Shylah is.  The experienced horses were running all over the place, and by the end of 4+ hours going up and down hills and over creeks and around trees (And seemingly trying to scrape me off on oak trees?  Or was she just trying to get close enough to eat the trees?  Jury's out on that one, but I lean toward the former...) she was just flat out of gas and had nothing left to give.

We actually only saw two cows.  See, these strays are Limousin, a breed my family used to raise when I was a kid.  So when the cow folks say "those cows are nuts" I have to chuckle... oh yes, how well I know this!  Had some experiences with them in my younger years...  The non-Limousin cows are ever so much better behaved.  They managed to corral one of them, the other got away.

At any rate, I had absolutely no idea what to do, and just followed Jen, but our horses were kinda feeding off each other's slowness.  I have to say though that Shylah did get kinda amped up a few times, and did really get into the spirit of the chase at one point and covered some serious ground at a pretty good clip.  I was impressed, maybe there's hope for her.  I also don't know the lay of the land at all, and get TOTALLY turned around out there, so I don't have a real good concept of where the cows might be and where we are supposed to herd them.  All in due time, I guess...

That might be the last of the roundups here this season, I'm not sure.  I think the strays are getting left behind at this point.  They took all the other cows in May and June before I was moved up here.

Bottom line, Shylah needs some serious conditioning to be good at that, but maybe in time she and I could end up useful.  I was afraid we'd screw things up today.  Good news is we didn't mess anything up, but we certainly didn't manage to be any help either!  It was a lovely trail ride though!