Friday, May 11, 2012

CPSC acceptance and life update

Time to give an update on things around here...goodness my last post from back in March had snow pictures! Well the tulips have now blossomed here...yes the flower on the left is a tulip, does remind me of a peony though and ya'll know I love peonies... :-)

So first up, I am delighted to announce that three of my pieces have been juried into the first national Coloured Pencil Society of Canada exhibition! The exhibition shall be displayed at the Shenkman Arts Centre here in Ottawa, July 3 until July 31, 2012. A vernissage and awards ceremony is scheduled for July 7th (I shall definitely be there). The exhibition will go on to travel to the Montreal area. The Galerie d'Art 249 in St Sauveur Quebec shall host the exhibit from August 1st until the 19th. A vernissage in St. Sauveur is scheduled for August 4th.

Jack Pine Kaledioscope is one of the accepted pieces. This work started off rather simply. I snapped two pictures of pine cones while out on a forest walk with my dog (no angst ridden lengthy photo shoots with props and all). I was attracted to the Jack Pine pinecones as they are not the usual ones we imagine when we think of pine cones. I drew and coloured the cones first (went right for the candy, lol) but oh dear, those needles drove me batty. Okay, I confess to a twisted nature - I made it a sort of personal challenge to follow through on the needles. What I mean is that if you were to look at a certain needle and you were to follow it through under and over the other needles, it would actually continue on like the real needle did, I didn't allow myself any fudging in the piece such as simply suggesting needles. Of course the average viewer probably wouldn't even notice but I wanted the image to have absolute drawing integrity. In the end, it tickles me that I can look at it and follow the needles.
My Swiss Chard is in the exhibition as well. Now this one involved the angst ridden photo shoot! I remember well the trips to various markets in search for the perfect chard specimens. I set up the chard on matboard on a table on our rear deck and took tons of pictures. Things were not going well and the chard was wilting fast (it was a hot day). I bent down and saw a moment of wonderful light. The chard was backlit by bright afternoon sun and I grabbed the camera. In the end I got captivated by the hills and valleys in the chard and I let the colours explode. This piece is definitely not what I was going for when I headed off to market and I think that is terrific.

 Finally there is Blue Blooded (my husband really likes this piece so it has become NFS). Blue Blooded is actually inspired by the same chard photos that resulted from the photo shoot described above. I was sifting through reference photos and I was intrigued by a small dark patch of chard, a bit hidden in the shadows. I saw blue and green colours that reminded me of the swirls of cells, like what you would see if you examined blood under a microscope. From there I abstracted my idea of blue blood. (some of you faithful reader may recall my works in progress entries detailing my feather boa and my flamenco dancing - not all cp work takes place seated and at a drafting table! :-)

I am really looking forward to seeing the work of my fellow Canadian cp artists in this CPSC exhibition. By having a work accepted, I have earned the first notch in my belt towards having my signature status. I will need to be juried into two more exhibitions over the next seven years in order to claim sig. status. I was thrilled to earn signature status with the Coloured Pencil Society of America (I am no longer entering their exhibitions due to the many issues I have had with US and Canadian customs agencies) and goodness now I start all over again. Life is like that eh? Just when you think you have settled somewhere, you end up continuing on again...

As you can probably imagine, I have been gardening quite a bit. Here is picture of  the inside of my cold frame (think mini greenhouse) which has early salad greens growing like crazy. I got this planted up back in March. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago and you should see the giant heads of lettuces, spinach and radishes now. Yummy...

 I have hundreds of seedlings growing under lights in the basement. I planted these seeds in late winter and I shall be transplanting them into the vegetable garden over the next week or so. This picture is of a flat of beefsteak tomatoes.
Well gardening plants aren't the only things growing here. Meet Aaron, our four month old German Shepherd pup. We were devastated to lose our last G.S. back in December. He had had a great life and he had a 'good' death but it was sudden and we were so not ready (and I know we are never really ready). It just didn't feel right to not have a dog around here so after researching breeders we found this guy and we took the plunge. Going from an old, well trained dog to puppyhood was scary but Aaron is turning out to be a great little fellow. He is very smart, loving, willing to please and rather calm (for a puppy). We are attending puppy kindergarten classes and having a blast.

This little chick arrived last week. It is a day old in the picture. (They are shipped out when just a few hours old.) We ordered 15 chicks from five different breeds. I had forgotten how adorable baby chicks are. I am enjoying watching them and listening to their peeps. It is hard to believe that these small chicks will be laying eggs by the end of August but they will be. 

This little day old Barred Plymouth Rock hen is called Bobette. I would just call her Bob but that doesn't seem quite right, perhaps Bobby? :-) She has this name due to a bit of a gimp leg that she has. You might be able to see that the leg on the left is arched up while the other leg is splayed flat on the floor. This leg is a bit wonky and she reminded me of Bob Cratchit - hence the name. Ah, are you are confused?...well goofy me got mixed up and of course Bob Cratchit is the father in the story and Tiny Tim is the child with the limp! She had been called Bobette for a few days before I realized my mistake so Bobette it is. (and she kind of bobs when she walks) :-) She is smaller than the other BPR chicks and she doesn't scoot around like the others. She doesn't seem in pain and she does eat and drink at the feeders so I hope she makes it. She does sleep a lot though. Anyway, perfection isn't required on our wee farm, not by a long shot and I look forward to watching her grow up. Noah and Keeah (two of our goats, if you are new to the blog) were not well as babes either and now they are robust and thriving. So maybe one day soon Bobette shall be ruling the roost!

The veggie garden is underway. 250 onions are in and a year's worth of carrots. Potatoes and peas and more salad greens are planted too. Each day some new things get planted. Here in Ottawa we are still not out of frost danger so whatever goes in now has to be cold tolerant or slow to germinate or is something I am willing to cover.

Here is my Ruth Stout inspired potato patch. The potatoes are ones we didn't eat over the winter and they started to go to seed in the root cellar. I am assisted by a chicken while the goats supervise. The chickens are no longer allowed in the garden as they will scratch up freshly planted seeds and pull up onions and such. I do like them in the garden in early spring and in the fall as they are great at tilling up bits of compost not to mention eating nasty things like slugs - I have yet to see  slugs in my garden.

Wildlife is getting busy this spring. I don't mind seeing deer in the meadow in the evenings but having a bear raid your backyard feeders isn't so welcome. A bear paid us a visit last week and he/she must not have seen the gate! :-) We have had bears here several times but this one must be a heavy one as we have never had the fence damaged before. Feeders were shredded and the feeder poles bent to the ground. We slept through it all.
Here is a picture of some of the scratches that the bear made on the tree as it climbed it. Yes I am looking over my shoulder during my morning forest walks. Aaron and I spied bear poo in the meadow this morning and it looked very fresh. The bear should move on soon. We have had foxes trying to kill our chickens (two different ones, i.e. they look different so we are not seeing the same fox over and over). We have lost one, one survived when my husband scared the fox and it dropped the hen and another attack caused a hen to lose lots of feathers. She took flight and the fox was left with a mouthful of feathers. Foxes have been here regularly for the past year and a half. We have watched them hunt for mice in the meadow and they have left our chickens alone. We are mindful that wild creatures need to eat too (there may be young kits in a den to consider) and our goal is to co-exist with animals. Having said that, while our hens are locked up at night and are currently restricted in their daytime free ranging area, we are no longer willing to let our animals live under siege. If nothing else, the goats are stressed by having a fox coming within feet of their fence. The fox sauntered up the driveway today while I was out checking on the chicks.Thanks to Rainah, our goat herd queen, I was alerted to the danger and I chased the fox off. Electric fencing is being considered as well as many other options. We are thinking more like Rambo than Gandhi these days and if necessary I am willing to fashion a fox pelt into a Davy Crockett style sun hat for gardening. Definitely not a Gandhi inspired thought :-)

Well, from Cratchit to Crockett, I guess that is enough of an update. I am working on a new piece and once it is further along I shall post a work in progress picture. Now to catch up on all of the blogs I haven't read in the past month...