Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween ... of course

Look ... it's the Travelocity Gnome!
Me, as the Rotten Tooth Fairy, pliers in hand
Showing off my wings

This robot turned and posed for me.

The adorable Magic Unicorn

   I fed Bruno early, and headed over to my sister Barb's new home. She lives in an area that is noted for its celebration of Halloween. I was not disappointed. Houses for several square blocks were decorated to the nines, and there were hundreds of people of all ages and manner of dress wandering the streets. I went out once with my nephew, to talk hockey, weird movies, and take photos. Then, I went out twice more with my niece, as official trick-or-treaters. I LOVE Halloween, and dressing up, but the best I mustered this year was my "Rotten Tooth Fairy" costume; I was surprised at how many people we passed who said,"Look, there's the tooth fairy"!!

A Commission

This is where I am right now.
   I'm working on a painting for a friend of mine. Mike had a hobby farm in Langley, and boarded one or two horses. The painting is of one of the boarders who became a close friend, with her horse. The photos from which I have to work are NOT painter-friendly, so we'll see what can be done.
This is the photo I am using for the pose.
This I'll use for color reference.
I was at this point a few days ago, and found the horse to have too much orange.

I am definitely at the point in a painting where I wonder what I'm doing - really an awkward stage. Let me know what you think of it , so far.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Word Concerning "Chins"

Baby, wondering how he can escape, and take over the world
Baby, in my work area 
   This morning's amblings were inspired by Baby's escapade today. I have, living in a huge cage on the kitchen counter, two male chinchillas. They were acquired from my sister, Steph, when her otherwise tolerant husband said they had to go. She called me almost in tears, so I told her to bring them out here. I have since found out IN SPADES why John wanted them out of the house.
   Chins are cute, incredibly soft, and chew everything they can get their teeth onto. They are a bit larger than a guinea pig. They move like stink ... running, scurrying, and jumping.
   Since they have moved out here to the country, [not that they'd notice, living indoors in a cage] the fuzzy little bastards have managed to chew my dressage saddle, a bridle and set of hand-made braided reins, and a bathroom! That was the primary damage; there was a lot of gnawing done on furniture, baseboards, and anything within reach of their teeth.
   Chinchillas must gnaw, as like so many rodents, their teeth are continually erupting from the jaw. In watching them, I have also come to think that they use their teeth and mouths to explore their environment.So it is quite natural, BUT .....
   Anyway, to give them time out of the cage, and time for a cornstarch bath [really, it's grooming] I bought a large playpen. This I set up in the kitchen, put in their bath, some toys, and cover with an old blanket which I batten down with bungee cords and a plank. One of the chins, Baby, is a master of escape. This morning, I didn't even know he was out till I saw him zip around the bedroom. He also looked wet. When I checked the bathroom , the floor near the toilet was wet. He had jumped up and fallen in. But how did the little bugger get out? Anyway, he had his romp, allowed himself to be relatively easily caught, and placed back in the cage.
   The other chin, Fat Bastard, is not as keen on being out of the cage. His quirk is  sprawling on his back for hours ... a most un-chinchilla-like posture. He also has a serious raisin addiction. Both chins like raisins, but he will do anything and go anywhere to get one.
Inspecting my bridle
Fat on left, Baby on right
   So, that's a little bit of my life with chins.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

HORSES ... can't live with'em, can't live without'em

   I am sitting here at the computer, listening to Bruno out in his field and paddock, screaming like a banshee. All his friends in the adjoining properties are inside, and being a herd animal, he misses them. I tried having a companion with him last winter - a cute and small retired school pony - and he was so possessive of me, he would chase her away when I went in the paddock. One morning, he was so intent on chasing her, and the noise next door, he ran into me. He sent me flying, and then ran through me as I was in mid-air. End of "roomie". Which is worse? a jealous and protective horse, or a neurotically lonely horse? I guess whichever causes me less pain!
   I've had horses now since I was 30. Almost never before that time did I have many accidents. A.H., [after horse] I was a regular at the hospital. Sweetie. my gorgeous Hanoverian mare, sent me flying innumerable times. Once, she got me off, and I stupidly held onto the reins. She started bucking, and her hind legs were coming down on my lower abdomen like pistons. After 4 or 5 solid thumps, I let go. My doctor later told me her hooves were less than an inch from the femoral artery, and if hit, I would have bled to death in less than a minute. So it goes. Another time, she also kicked out at a speeding truck, got my right arm, and presto! ... compound fracture.  Ah yes, her imperial highness and I had MANY adventures together!! Yet she could be SO sweet and gentle. I remember my mother bringing my 6 month old nephew to the barn. Her highness was in her stall, and came over to reach out over the stall guard. Julian was playing with her head, and at one point had his tiny arm up to the elbow up her nostril. And she just stood there with a slurpy, loving look on her face.
   Then there was Carlo, a handsome young thoroughbred who had been badly spoiled, and as a result, wanted nothing to do with training and riding. When he finally tossed me, and I could hear and feel my pelvis crack, that was it for Carlo.
Sweetie, geared up with fly mask, heading for the trails 
S. and me [yes, that's her tongue]
Her Highness and me, one summer morning
Bruno and Paulina [my niece] a month ago
   And now I have Bruno ... very tall, sweet and not too clear on the concept of carrying someone on his back. He was a successful pacer at the local track. When he had a minor injury, his owner decided to retire him. My trainer thought we would be a good match. I think so, too, but right now, we are going through a little period of adjustment. So, once again, I am feeling this little niggle of apprehension about riding him. It's cooler, and he is full of piss and vinegar. He has turned out to be quite athletic, an admirable and desirable asset, ONCE you have it more "under control". In the meantime ...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Session with the Model

   Last Christmas, for his wife, my horse vet commissioned a painting of her much-loved dog, Tobias. She was so thrilled with the painting, she cried when she saw it, and "Tobias" nows hangs in their bedroom. Now Mario has asked if I could do a portrait of their other Mexican rescue dog, Cindy. [ who I think is half or full sister to Tobias]
I think this will probably be the one to paint.

Very grumpy-looking here.
I don't know what to make of this pose!
   Today was another gloriously warm and sunny day, so I walked down the street in the late afternoon for Miss Cindy's photo shoot. She was not as cooperative as her brother, and I had to get down on the wet, newly-cut grass to cajole her into posing. She is as cute as a bug, and very sweet, but from some of the photos, I can't help seeing that she looks quite like an Ewok [one of the teddy-bear creatures from "Star Wars"]

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Process

  I've been fussing around with this for 6 or 7 days. It's a re-do of a painting I did almost a year ago. One of the dentists I work with said he'd like to purchase the painting, and I replied that I would like to paint it again. So, above is the "original" ...

   This is the first wash of background color, a soup of aureolin yellow, phthalo green and burnt orange. I wanted to get some color behind, to better ascertain the rose and leaf colors.

Some aureolin straight up, and mixed with a warmer pink for the flower, and phthalo green with burnt orange for a start on the leaves.

I've added warm pink, with some cobalt blue in the shaded areas. The leaves and some of the 
background have been intensified.
Below is the painting as it stands right now. To me, it looks like the bee needs a bit of plumping and darkening. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reality Check [ this is my day job ]

   This is my "day job", what I do on a part-time basis to support my vices. [horses and painting] I work as a dental hygienist, at this particular office in north Surrey, on alternate Thursdays and every Friday. I've been in the profession for longer than I want to remember, yet I find I look forward to going to work here. The entire staff is VERY caring to patients, and to each other. And the level of clinical expertise and practice is high. It's a good place to be if you have to work.
   The first person you'll meet is Patricia, our receptionist. She is very efficient, and loves my art. Thank you, Patricia!


   The next person you'll see is probably Laara, our tall and able-bodied certified assistant. OK, I'm 5'2" on a big day, and Laara is head and shoulders above me, so I let her get into the high shelves for me. She is calm and almost unflappable when things are weird [or patients are weird] and when Glenn is running behind, which is not uncommon. Like most CDA's, she knows a lot about the entire operation of the office. Thank you, Laara!
Glenn [staight posture, when he realized photo being taken]
Laara and Glenn

   Glenn, too, is a very compassionate person ... sometimes I could say a bit too much so, as that is why he's almost always behind schedule. However, I don't think I would want him to be any different. He appreciates his staff ... and likes my art! A thank you to "The Chief"!
   Glenn shares the practice with his sister, Jocelyn, also a dentist. And his dad practices in the same building; he is a physician, and a sweetheart. Mom is quite often there as well, working with her husband. Josephine always makes sure everyone has their coffee for the day. Josephine is also an artist; she worked for years as a fine artist and graphic designer. Trying to get a photo of Josephine today was like trying to herd cats! Most of the ones I got were of her beetling away and covering her face! 
So ... that's my day job!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving

    It's a gorgeous, sunny day. The temperature is in the high teens. [centigrade]  It honestly couldn't be better!! I think the earlier Thanksgiving date makes much more sense than celebrating it in November, when it's cold and dark, and much too close to Christmas. [which is my least favorite time of year]
    I spent the morning doing some decent painting  ... for a change.  And this afternoon, I've been out with the lad, having a great ride. I am still keeping our sessions short, as his hind leg still swells a bit, and the bone bruise is large. I'm also cold hosing after a ride. Rode him quite loosely today as well, all off my legs, and let his head pretty much go where it wanted as far as length of neck. I did it this way because yesterday I rode him more "put together" on the hands and legs. He was just fine with that today.
    I was also irresistably drawn to the garden early this afternoon. The flowers are still blooming, so I got my camera to collect some reference photos for painting this winter.
    Driving to work on Friday, I heard that a horrific winter is predicted for Vancouver ... the worst since 1955!!! My stomach was in knots all day thinking about it! I HATE winter: the cold, the dark, the snow. I will not drive in it. I've had two accidents driving in the snow, and now I completely balk when it comes to getting around in it. My version of Hell is not fire and brimstone; it's ice and snow and cold and dark.
    Enough about that! It's sunny and warm. Let me show you some of the photos I took today.

Roses are in bloom

Note the honeybee on the aster


Monday, October 4, 2010

A Bit of Success - Just Enough to Keep Me Going

Deb Strong & I at my booth

Yummy apples

Someone being introduced to their 1st horse 

Onno, Barb's husband & major behind-the-scenes organizer [ with a very dry wit!]

Lovely scene at the farm

One of the outdoor booths

Lots of fresh, yummy fruit and vegetables

More yummies

Crystal[l] and Deborah[r] setting up on Saturday
   The weather obliged, the vendors were great, and the crowds came. It was warm and sunny this last weekend, which I'm sure made all the difference to the event's attendance. And the cause was a good one for all us horse-lovers. These beautiful animals had, for years, raced their hearts out for their owners, and were now pretty much being discarded - too old, too broken down ... They deserve a good retirement after their hard life! I myself have a retired standardbred pacer, who is so sweet, willing to please, and full of character, I feel extremely fortunate to have him in my life.
   Back to the event. Initially, I found it difficult to sit around for hours, but then the nearby vendors started getting to know each other. Deborah Strong, who creates animal and nature art, is a fount of information and inspiration, with a truly wicked wit.  Crytsal paints large, bright and beautiful scenes of people's homes.  Her creative process is amazingly detailed, and I learned a fair bit talking with her, and Deborah as well.
   There were food vendors, leather-goods makers, jewellers ... it was a great mix of products and people.
   With all of us, there were also some of Barb's [the owner] family. Her husband, Onno, was doing a lot of everything, carrying, setting up, organizing parking, towing cars that managed to get stuck in soft ground when parking ...  Barb's mom was manning the gourmet foods handled by "Fields and Flowers". I managed to have a few brief conversations with her dad, who is a fascinating man, and was also helping with a bit of everything.
   I met a very interesting woman, Maureen, who had her degree in pharmacology, but had chosen to remain in her career as race-horse trainer. It was in her blood; her mother had been the first woman trainer at Hastings Park.
   All in all, the weekend was fabulous. And I even managed to sell a few paintings ... just enough to keep me coming back for more!