Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Just Love

So yesterday it became official: I am coordinating my first printmaking exchange on! I have participated in 4 (or 5?) exchanges on WC now, but have never been a coordinator. But I had an idea to do a nature/wildlife themed printmaking exchange and ... with the help of many awesome WC members... set one up! Yahooee!

So if you are a printmaker (or wannabe printmaker!) who isn't a member of Wetcanvas, head over, sign up and join the exchange!

I am so excited to see what everyone comes up with. We are limiting to 20 members, and a paper size of 8 x 10. Any relief method (linocut, woodcut, etc), lithography, intaglio is accepted. Theme: wildlife, landscapes, nature.

Another fun project that is now taking place in the Animal/Wildlife Discussion forum of WC is a weekly Dog Breed challenge. A breed is highlighted every week, and the folks of WC are challenged to do a drawing, painting, sculpture, etc of that said breed, and post it for everyone to see. There is also a weekly Horse Breed Challenge. This week's Dog Challenge is the Saarloos Wolfhound and I think I am going to give it a try! I am such a sucker for dogs, especially the working type breeds (and hounds, of course... gotta love the hounds) :o)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finished Portrait!

The portrait of Bakely is finally finished! I forgot to post it (and thankfully I have it on file here at work, and thankfully I'm taking a very late lunch break, and thankfully it is a very delicious lunch of leftover Little Ceasar's pizza and a chocolate chip ice cream cookie! Healthy, yes?).
Paper size- 8x10", done in Oil Pastel with a touch of charcoal.
Renee came and picked it up last week, and was so excited about how it came out, so that makes ME excited. Can't wait to hear what her sis in Madagascar thinks!
I have been a bit remiss posting art-related stuff lately... my blog has gotten pretty heavy with greyhound and hiking posts which I love, but I'll definitely be posting more about art, creating, printmaking, sketching, etc. too!! I'm happy my creativity muse is back, and I'm working on 3 different woodcuts plus I have another pet portrait to do- a pit bull mix named Robin. Last night I organized all of my printmaking paper- Lotka, Hosho, Kitakata, Mulberry, Canson, Stonehenge, Hanji- can't wait to use it. Press room should get cleaned tonight and then I'm good to go. :o)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Visit to Aunt Tina's

It was nice having the day off yesterday, despite the heat! We took a trip to visit my Aunt Tina, who is one of the most amazing people I know. Two-three years ago, she started a cat rescue group from scratch and last year placed 1,500 homeless area cats into responsible, loving homes. She is so creative showed me her newest piece, a mixed-media altered book, which blew my mind! It was awesome! Lucy and Clifford loved her 2-acre fenced yard in the country- even the creek is fenced in. We explored the backyard (with her beautiful gentleman German Shepherd, Ivan), hiked at Pratts Falls Park, and then we sat on her veranda talking dogs, art, and animal rescue for hours with the dogs sprawled at our feet. It really capped the day!! She is really just the most awesome person and we had the best day-!!!!

Record High Temps!

Yesterday, temperatures soared to 91 degrees. A SAUNA for Central NY in April- we broke the all-time high! Lucy was having such a wonderful time sunbathing that I knew I had to get her pool out for her to cool off... unfortunately she isn't able to lay down in it anymore (bottom too slippery?) so I'm going to find some carpet to glue to the floor to make it less slippery. She loved dipping her pretty white feet. :o)
P.S.- Mowed the lawn for the first time this season! Woot!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday Hike

After visiting for a few hours with Mom and Dad, Clifford and I took to the back fields for a walk. I was hoping to see a coyote, since Dad had seen one in back last week. Unfortunately we didn't see any coyotes but we saw 3 separate herds of deer, a flock of wild turkeys, a single turkey, and heard lots of songbirds.

I was excited to find this track. An opossum? Raccoon? It was in the way back fields, near a stand of hardwoods that my Malamute Nelson and I used to visit all the time growing up.

It was wierd hiking the back fields with Clifford- places I used to hike every day after high school with Nelson- it made me a bit sad and nostalgic. And I felt a bit... not guilty, but like I was back there with Cliff when I should have been back there with Nellie instead. That was NEL'S walk area, not Cliff's. Which was strange, because Nellie died in 2002. I'm sure he was with us in spirit, but it made me think of him... and I felt a bit sad.

This is what we call the "horse shoe" field... way in back of my parents' place... if you can enlarge the picture, you can see a herd of whitetail deer in the upper right of the field fleeing from us. Cliff never even noticed... some sighthound LOL!

We were able to cross into a field that used to be for heifers when I was growing up (it looks abandoned now)-- I really had to look to find a place where I could get Cliff under the barbed wire fence. Nelson was always willing to bushwack go through the woods and go under fences... it isn't the same with greyhounds! And Cliff is a GUNG HO hiker... but he did NOT want to bushwack. And getting him under the barbed wire fence without ripping his back to shreds took some doing. But we did it and were blessed with some beautiful views from the high cow fields.

We even found a nice large cow pond and Cliff enjoyed a dip to cool off. It was a VERY hot afternoon and I waded in, too, just to cool off my feet. If you enlarge the photo, you can see three black dots in that back field... wild turkeys.

Trees were starting to bloom and flower, birds were singing, and all the deer and turkey we (well, *I*) saw... just a fantastic afternoon!!!

Lucy is too dignified to play with Pugs...

...but, despite that sweet face, she might eat them with ketchup and mustard.

Amos *hearts* Cliff

You KNOW a visit to Mom and Dad's wouldn't be complete without photos of Cliff and his "special boyfriend" Amos.... mostly Amos just shadows Clifford around the yard incessantly but then they get playing and it is soooo funny!

Sad to say, Amos definitely has the advantage. He is 2 (Clifford will be 11 in June!) and he is small enough to turn on a dime, while Big Lug Clifford trips over himself to pivot. Maybe this is why he only raced until he was 3 years old- too lanky, not agile enough and gets in his own way LOL!

Clifford is so patient with Amos. Amos just follows him around constantly like a lovesick puppy... I love this pic of them laying together in the backyard after a bout of play! What great boys.

Mom, Dad and Pugs Galore!

Yesterday afternoon (I woke up at 2, after a whirlwind Saturday in NYC!!!)-- the hounds and I packed up and went to visit Mom and Dad.

Mom and Benny ("Bit")...

Mom, Dad with Amos and Benny....

Dad with Clifford being chased by his boyfriend Amos!!....

Dad (after shaving off his mustache!) with Benny, Alice, and Amos (with "Red Duck").

And my favorite, beautiful Miss Alice!!! Look at that perfect face!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Whirlwind Trip to NYC and the Art Galleries!

My friend Kelly and I took a day trip yesterday to NYC. We had SUCH A GOOD TIME!! It was stunning weather- I would say mid 80's- and $55 round trip on a deluxe coach? You can't beat it! We spent the afternoon visiting the Chelsea District, oggling at gallery after gallery of... well... interesting artwork. Modern contemporary... abstract... not exactly our type, but it was fun anyway. We had lunch at the Empire Diner right near the galleries (root beer floats TO DIE FOR... the rest of the food was so-so).

This was a church we passed had an amazingly artistic fascade.

A few galleries in the district opened right out into the street (we visited 27-23rd Streets between 10th and 11 Avenues). Many others were in multi-floor studio buildings where we took really, really scary old grate-door elevators operated by bell-hops and explored floor by floor.

An interesting exhibit of abstract pumkins.
Later, after the galleries, Kel and I went to Chinatown... we were on the hunt for purses. :o) We both ended up with fantastic buys (striped purses of the same style, but hers was black and white striped and small, and mine was colorful stripes and large- I have too much junk for a small purse!) and she also got some wall-art for her daughter. I got a skirt from a Nepali vendor (which was wierd... two Nepali vendors in a sea of Chinese stores!). We had dinner at Mr. Tangs, a nice clean restaurant at the corner of Mott street and ....? (street running parallel and north of Canal). Kelly said the spring rolls there were the best she had ever tasted in her life. I had dumplings... they were, of course, delish. :o)

We left Auburn at 5:30 AM, and got to the city around 11. We lunched and did galleries till about 3, went to New York Central Paper in the East Village (I got BEAUTIFUL Lotka paper for printmaking! They had so much paper, I could have stayed there for hours... sigh), then swung down to Chinatown to shop, shop, shop and have dinner, and then Times Square to pick up Juan Valdez coffee for Kelly's husband... we then DASHED downtown to catch the bus at Herald Square at 8:30 for a long drive home... got back to Auburn around 2 AM.
It was too short a trip, so we are planning another one!

These are some of the postcards and brochures I picked up from the galleries we visited. Perhaps the most "interesting" was Heide Hatry. You can see the postcard of her Madonna-esque sculpture postcard in my photo above. She makes disturbing sculptures out of something (clay?) and then drapes them with Pig skin so their face skin looks real, like human skin- pores and all. The curator at the gallery told us that Pig Skin most resembles human skin and that the eyes of her sculpture are real pig eyes. If you want to see more of her creepy work, click the link above... yikes. I mean, not just the pig body parts but... wierd. She also had a "peep show" in the gallery area where you had to look through a hole cut into a curtain and there was a video of one of the heads with it's mouth moving (claymation?) making orgasmic moans. Kelly watched another video in the back of the gallery that I missed that was equally wierd. We were laughing about that show all day!!!! It was just SO out of this world!!!!
We saw a lot of abstract art - not my thing- and we saw, surprisingly, several pornographic shows. I was a bit surprised. I mean, I know I'm a prude but still... what is the point of making a wall-sized photo-realistic oil painting of a penis ejaculating on a photograph? Or a wall-sized oil painting of a bride giving a bj to a guy while being ejaculated on by a bunch of other guys?? Is that really necessary? WHO would hang something like that in their living room? Was the point of the show to be disturbing? I don't know, I was too embarrassed to go to the curator's desk and ask. We also saw a show called "Kids Gone Wild" which we thought would be about children throwing food or something but it was photos of teenagers banging each other, jacking off and stuff.... ugh. To ME, the line between art and porn had been crossed, but...I don't know. I'm a definite traditionalist when it comes to art. We saw several shows of computer art which was not really my style, or Kelly's style either--is that art, or is it tracing an image and then calling it your art? If you take a photograph, trace it on a computer and add a filter in Photoshop does that make it art? One gallery had a pile of grass clippings in the middle of the floor- is that art? How? If it involves sewing, does that make it art or craft? But I guess that is the purpose of modern art, and I am too stodgy with my ideas to understand it. Or want to try to understand it, LOL.
Art is so subjective and so... personal. What I enjoy, other people may not. What other people consider art, I might not. I guess that's what makes art so great... the diversity.... the way each person interprets an idea that is swirling like a tornado in their mind, taking that idea and making it real.

My favorite shows were "AutoMythography I" by African American artist Mequitta Ahuja. Her drawings (especially those in pencil) were fantastic- and the way she exaggerated the hair of her subjects blew me away-! My favorite image was "Fount" (if you scroll down to the bottom of the link you can see it)-- two African Americans facing each other across 4-5 panels but swinging their heads.. their hair exploding and intertwining into one... so cool.
I also enjoyed abstract forest/nature images by Gerald Monroe. Can't find a good link unfortunately but I enjoyed how he could SUGGEST a forest, a garden, a blooming tree without having to depict it in a photorealistic style.
Next trip I am definitely going to see the Cloisters. Traditional art. Religious art. Good ol' fashion stuff. Do the Fuller Building of art galleries in Midtown. And, of course, go back to Chinatown. I am CERTAINTLY not a girly-girl type of person, but one can never have too many purses. :o) Kelly wants to see Central Park and she is interested in Coney Island (I used to live in South Brooklyn, so Coney Island is one of my favorite places)... maybe this summer?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Greyhound Playdate!

Today was absolutely beautiful... warm (low 70's), sunshine, and bright blue skies. It was even nice at the office today- we had a "Campus Clean Up" day as part of Earth Day/Arbor Day celebrations and several of us staff members cleaned up some campus gardens (you may or may not know, but I also contribute to our office blog- here's some photos from our work!)

After work, I was psyched that my friend Renee and Rich, along with their greyhound Mercedes, came to visit. They also brought along their new puppy Morgan.

Morgan came up from Tennessee and was billed as a Greyhound mix. She is 7-8 months old now, and the vet say she will only be about 20 lbs. full grown. Her face is rather dauchsundy.... what do you think? Any ideas? My guess is dachsund/whippet- although how many whippets have "oops" litters with other breeds, they aren't that common!

Cliff was very patient with Morgan, and Morgan was very respectful of Cliff.

Lucy definitely didn't like Morgan! She would rather spend time snuggling with her Auntie Renee...

There wasn't much running or playing, but lots of sniffing. Morgan had a lot of fun exploring the yard, while Cliff and Mercedes mosey'ed around...

... and the one shot I have of all dogs together. Cliff, in the corner of the yard, dumping. Lucy following Mercedes as she ambled towards Potty Corner. Morgan, excitedly sniffing Mr. Mucus (one of Cliff's favorite stuffies).

It's always fun to have playdates! It gives the dogs a chance to socialize and stretch their legs if they are in the mood.
Tomorrow I am spending the day in NYC with my friend Kelly. SO EXCITED! We are going to hit art galleries in the Chelsea Area. Can't wait to see some art-!!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

'Twas a cold and overcast Earth Day...

Happy Earth Day to everyone!
It seems appropriate to post the video of one of my favorite singers, the late great John Denver... "Calypso", one of my favorite songs he ever did as a tribute to ecologist/naturalist Jacque Cousteau. It really is a beautiful song about truly loving and understanding the wild... totally appropriate for Earth Day! Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Cover of Coots

One of my New Year's Goals was to work on developing a portfolio of Central NY/Finger Lakes wildlife and landscape art. My cottontail woodcut bombed (although I AM going to try it again... third time's a charm, right?), but my Heiberg Forest woodcut came out better than I expected. After seeing mysterious black ducks with white beaks at MNWR this month, I decided to do a woodcut of them. Thanks to Amie and Christa, I found out they were not Scoters but AMERICAN COOTS. And Coots are not ducks, but a member of the Rail family. A group of Coots is called a "cover", not a flock. And they are nicknamed "Mud Hens" - when I was little and my family used to go watch the Syracuse Chiefs play baseball, there was another team called the "Mud Hens" although I don't remember where they were from- were they named after coots?? Is this where the saying "an ol' coot" came from?? And is Wikipedia right, in that American Coot fossils trace back to the Pleistocene era???

Anyway, I am going to do a woodcut of the American Coots I saw at the Refuge... this is the sketch. I've already drew it onto a block (10 x 5"- never worked that format before) and sprayed it with fixative. Lunch break is good for something, eh? Of course, now I stink like Fixative and I'm sure all my coworkers will appreciate me in our departmental meeting this afternoon, stanking up the conference room! Oye.


P.S.- I'm very proud of all the links I put into this post LOL.

Northern Flicker Sketches

This morning our yard was visited by 3 Northern Flickers! I have never seen these birds in our area before, much less in the city. Of course, I have never been much of a birdwatcher... but I seem to be taking an interest in it lately! Other than squirrels, birds are the most populous wildlife we see around here.

I quickly grabbed my camera, threw on the telephoto lense and began shooting out the kitchen window. I wonder if I got any good, clear pics? We'll see. After I took about 30 photos, I put the camera down and ran for my sketchbook. Sorry to say, my eyes are horrible (even with glasses!) and it was hard to see the Flickers well enough to sketch. And they were quick little buggers too, hopping here and there, looking for bugs to eat. As soon as I started to sketch one, he would hop and move into a totally new position! Ah well, such is the bane of anyone trying to draw a live animal, I guess.
It is always so exciting to see a new species-!
In other wildlife news, my parents report the coyotes have come back to the fields behind their house! They had been exterminated by hunters, but thankfully have made a comeback. I think Clifford, myself, the sketchbook and camera will have to go on a Coyote Hunting Expedition one of these weekends. I would DIE to see a coyote in real life!!!! I used to hear them howling all the time growing up, and would track them with my camera throughout the winter... but never saw anything except pawprints in the snow. Twice I have seen coyotes while driving to work, but that doesn't really count. I want a real coyote experience. Or fox. I would love to see a fox too....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Carpenter Falls- New Hope, NY

After our abortive hike at the Jug Trail, the Pups and I drove up Appletree Road to a parking area near Upper Carpenter Falls. Here was another part of the Bahar Nature Preserve, and a 2 mile (well, .9 down and back) path snuck through the forest along the falls and river. I parked in the shade and left Lucy in the car (she was heartbroken, but if she was tired from attempting the Jug Trail, she certainly wouldn't be able to do 2 miles along the falls!). Cliff and I hopped out to do the trail- we might as well see it- I still had calories to burn and Cliff still had hyper energy to use up!

I'm so glad we stopped to do this trail. There were several different Falls- the Upper falls was best viewable, and the middle and lower falls were partially blocked with trees- but boy, what a beautiful and peaceful path.

The trees along the path were spindly and ghost-gray... very ethereal. Bright blue sky, and you heard the roaring river the whole hike. The trail ended at a point high above the Lower Falls... couldn't see them that well (even with the bare trees) but the little bit you could see... wow. I could have sat there watching and listening forever. Unfortunately I was hiking with Mr. Impatient so after a few minutes of Zen, we got up, turned around and went back to the car.

I highly recomment this hike if you happen to be in the Skaneateles area!