The preparations for the Fall Art Tour began as normal. The cleaning of the barn! Lots of cobweb hunting, vacuum sweeping and hauling of displays around. Progress was being made and a sense of the last crunch week was on.
September had brought me a raft of orders through my Etsy shop. Thanks to a happy customer, I had a mention on social media about the photo box I had made for a talented young photographer. The orders piled in like I had never experienced before! I was overwhelmed and worked like crazy all month to get the scores of photo boxes out the door. I even planned to do photo box making as my art tour demonstration!
At the one-week-before-show-time I had the notion that I really needed an evening ride with my three horses out to the big hay field. Recharging with pony energy would be the great reward for having put forth a huge effort and this would be the last chance before the final show set up.
My mistake was in choosing the wrong horse to ride that evening. My favorite Cheyenne had just had her hooves trimmed and was a bit sore so I took Cerra to be my mount. We four rode out to the big field in the early evening glow. Grazing over the thick alfalfa, Cerra's trot suddenly turned into a crow hop, and a buck! While I was surprised and trying to keep my seat the NEXT buck sent me flying onto the ground on my left shoulder. All that alfalfa wasn't really that fluffy!
I had to regroup for a few minutes while the herd was happy to munch next to me. Assessing my injuries I felt my collarbone jutting upward and now all I could do was get myself the half mile home. Slowly. I had a rope in my hand and thought I had Cerra with me on the way home. Half way across the field I thought,"She's really following nicely!" I looked back and found I was dragging an empty rope.
My adrenalized state got me home to the patio where I sat to rest. I heard Don coming out the door and I called "help" in a tiny voice. He found me and set into motion getting the horses in and me to the ER. When you live in the country you have a great appreciation for NEIGHBORS! Our neighbor Tom came over and he and Don got the horses in and then drove me to the ER.
A broken clavicle, scapula and five ribs layer.......I'm at the three week mark now and still paying a price for a little bit of fun!
The days of summer lasted three minutes each and now the apples are falling and the leaves will be turning next.
While summer was passing by the SherriStudio Etsy store has outdone itself and put the old lady into work mode again! Kind of like when I was 40.
One of the more interesting projects arrived this summer........ as posted from my Etsy store listing, here is the story of the zucchetto.
I didn't even know what a zucchetto was until I got a request to custom make a display case for one!
My customer was so kind to send this message upon receiving her order. She shared with me the purpose of this custom order. Her words follow..........
"Hi Sherri! The case did arrive in one piece and from the pictures my fiancé has shown me, it looks AWESOME. My fiancé has a radio show on SiriusXM satellite radio, on the Catholic Channel; and he works for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of NYC. We go to Rome regularly and through a friend at the Vatican we were able to get a zucchetto (the white hat) swapped out with Pope Francis'. It's a long standing tradition that if you buy the zucchetto from the store in Rome that makes the pope's clothing (and hat), and you have the occasion to meet the Holy Father, he will "trade" you. Although we didn't get to do it in person, a friend presented it to Pope Francis on our behalf and got the swap! It's something very special to us so I knew we needed to find an equally special way to display it, and your case was just the ticket! My fiancé Periscoped (live video stream) today about it and folks were asking how we found a "zucchetto case". Little do they know! :) Thanks for helping us out! We couldn't be happier!
The irises have put on a stunning display this year. Wish they could last all summer.
This tiny turtle was so colorful on the underside. What a cutie! I turned him loose by the creek.
The spring morel mushroom season was pretty good this year. We had this stray one pop out by Don's boat. It was spared the frying pan. Maybe the spores will spread for next year.
Another snake painting was completed for the Snake Man. This one is the Timber Rattler. He might want me to do a hawk this fall. That would be a nice change.
A oil painting of spring loveliness in a baby lamb. All soft and wooly amongst the pussy willows.
We lost kitty Paisley last Sunday. We had no idea he had a tumor in his tummy until he took a sudden turn for the worst. He was an FIV kitty (feline immunodeficiency virus) and was always sneezy but survived with us for seven years. Rest in peace, dear one. Your friends here will miss you.
We were thrilled to spot Stanley across the creek and he seems to be doing well. His antlers should be amazing this year.
Molly had a visitor on the patio. Not sure what they are chatting about.
Had friend Susan Yergin here with Bruce Miller to collect and process red willow bark. It is used as a tobacco for indian ceremonies and it was really interesting to join in the process.
Cool moth out on the chick waterer. Haven't been able to identify it yet. Very unique markings. Kind of like Paisley.
And finally, an old lady taking selfies! Got my official old lady short haircut, too. Keeping things simple as the days are busy. Not quite used to all the wrinkles!
One of my new paintings is titled "Promise of Spring". It will be on exhibit at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library in Eau Claire this summer. Their exhibit is titled "Eggsactly" and artists were invited to create art to the theme. I was hoping to do another stained glass wall relief, like Equus, or Bees, but I couldn't find the materials I was looking for to do my idea, so that one will have to wait for another time.
April's Awakening is also an oil. As the colors of spring started popping I worked on capturing those few days before the colorful buds turn green.
No....this one isn't Catfish Corner. It's just down the road and is a lengthy serpentine flowage of twists and turns of the Chippewa backwaters that eventually meets the Mississippi.
Wings Over Alma Exhibit - Wind and Water
The new exhibit at Wings was installed and our reception was held on Friday. The wind and water theme was perfect for getting out two paintings that haven't been exhibited which I did in 2011.
Moonlight Swim - 2011
Just Swimmingly 2011
Mysterious Wings - 2015
Wild Glory - 2015
It's interesting to see the evolution of my style over the past four years. It was a good winter for painting and I have several more, all of which will be added to the Fine Arts America page.
Spring Work Marathon
It was all fun and games until the weather turned warmer and the seemingly unending list of spring chores presented themselves. The barn, the gardens, brush cutting, all things that need doing before Mother Nature takes over with weeds and pests. I'm quite surprised my body has held up for the amount of physical labor I've put it through the past few weeks. It feels good to get a handle on sprucing up the place and it results in some very solid night's sleep!
It's not a new fitness program, but rather the process for starting on my latest painting project....for hire this one! My past few weeks of painting was a warm up to this project. The subject is the beautiful African Black Forest Cobra. Was it my choice? No, but I'm very grateful to have a project to paint something for a real live customer! This one will definitely stretch the imagination and skills.
The path to the painting
When I agree to take on a project it begins in the mind. The ideas, the researching of images, the preparation of sketches, ideas, a color scheme. It takes very little ACTUAL working time at this stage, but it consumes my mind for some days and even in my sleep as I think about how I am going to go about painting the image. It might look like.....stalling.....looking at snake pictures. Then the drawing....fiddling around ...... a few afternoons with the actual drawing, scaling and putting the pieces into perspective. Then, that magical day arrives when the inevitable cannot be put off any longer....I clean off glass palettes (more diversion).....squirt out a few colors .... and I paint!
After that initial drawing I spot colors upon the pristine white canvas. It takes the first bits of mid-tone color. I have been working with an approach of taking the boldest color of the palette and covering the canvas with it. I use a very loose mixture of pigment and light medium. It's almost transparent and my underdrawing will show through this layer which will guide the next layers.
At this point it looks silly and weird! But I do not despair, for this is only the start. This is usually when Don comes out to see what I'm doing, looks at it, and walks away! This isn't the pretty stage no matter what the subject.
The next session has me adding more definition to the subjects. Yeah, it's still weird looking, but trust me; it will all work out!
I like to listen to our DirecTV soft jazz station while I paint. It is motivating but doesn't demand my attention. I like to drift away on the tunes, not even knowing the artists, but enjoying the flow while I paint. Three hours will pass and I won't know it until I come up for air.
Winter weather helps
The details of each snake are now starting to develop. Another few hours to bring it into focus. I am continuing to work wet-into-wet even after several days. I use Grumbacher Medium II which is slow drying, but not THAT slow drying. The canvas and the palettes are stored in the frigid main area of our barn when I'm not working. It prevents the paint from drying as is equal to putting everything in the freezer!
The final product
Scales are painted, highlights and a general fine tuning. This will sit for a few days to dry before I put a protective spray of matte acrylic on the surface. Into a frame and it will move to its new home. Giving it a break for a few days will give me time to come back with "fresh eyes" to decide if it really is done.
What did I learn?
It doesn't really matter what the subject is.....find the art in it. I found myself being very fascinated with snakes having spent these weeks studying their own version of beauty. Everything boils down to shapes. The shapes I represented happen to belong to a large poisonous reptile. I like them a lot from my end of the brush!
Mercury retrograde offered up some strange days last week. I usually don't put too much investment in that happening until tragic events started happening. It wasn't just the miscommunications and inconvenience of misbehaving mechanics. This was real life and death.
The week started with the disappointment of getting notice that NONE of my entries made it into the ArtsWest show. Bummer. Dang!!! Not tragic, but has me scratching my head about my brilliant art career. (Yes, note sarcasm.)
Next, my friend accidentally ran over her border collie killing her instantly. Poor Lilly was a youngster and it was just heartbreaking that this bundle of joy and energy had her life abruptly cut short.
The last shoe dropped when the Pepin County Sheriff and deputy knocked on our door. They wanted to know if they could access the railroad tracks by passing through our woods. Seems there was report by a train engineer that there was a BODY just off the tracks behind our home.
Shortly before the sheriff arrived we heard a loud sudden shudder from a passing train. A bit later a helicopter was circling. The engineer had spotted the body and slammed on the train brakes and called it in. Fire trucks and rescue vehicles were parked on the highway in front of our house for the next two hours and gave the horses quite a thrill.
Don offered to go out and help, but they had scads of people to go out there on that blustery15 degree day. His plastic otter sled was used to haul the person out who was quite dead and frozen solid. He was wearing blue tennis shoes. We watched them work in our driveway as they loaded the plastic wrapped body into a white bag on a gurney and loaded him into the awaiting vehicle for the ride to the St. Paul Medical Examiners office.
A couple days later the young black male was identified as 35-year-old Steven Jouie Glaze. The link tells his story up until 2008. It seems things literally came off the tracks to the sad end of his life. It's still a mystery why he was on the tracks and not dressed for the outdoors. Pleas by law enforcement to contact family members have gone unanswered.
After a week of sad events, it is good to appreciate having a warm home and a great life. Things could be so much worse.
This will be my third year of entering the ArtsWest competition that is sponsored by the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library in Eau Claire. It's always fun to have something like this to look forward to and this year it was my goal to enter glass works instead of paintings.
"Equus Glass Co." is a stained glass sculpture on wood.....the end of a glass crate to be precise. A few embellishments turned it into Equus Co! The nordic tattooed horse head is made of black iridescent glass is copper foiled. The mane is twisted lead came and the whole thing was treated with black patina. The light will dance across the glass in an array of colors.
My second entry is called "Something About Bees" and is layers of glass, starting with mirror. Etched honey comb on frosted glass flanks the amber cathedral and opal hexagons. The base hexagon is framed in recycled brass window channels. Super large bees are dimensional. If bees were really this big we might be paying more attention to them! The plight of honey bees is real and this "squeeze on bees" is illustrated by the outside (dead) combs encroaching on the live hive. Ultimately the source of the problem? Look in the mirror.
That's as deep as I can get today! Now to await the jurying process and think about all the fun new creations to work on this year.