Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010

I didn't want to let another father's day pass without mentioning my dad.
This cherished photo is of my father when he was just a little boy. George Malcolm was born 99 years ago this coming July, and lost his own father right around the time this picture was taken.

My father was a brilliant man and a wonderful dad but I didn't realize just how much influence he had on me until after his death.

I intend to add to this post a little later but I just wanted to save a place for him here now on this father's day. I am feeling extremely lucky and very greatful today.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gimli is Gone...

How could I let nearly a year go by without posting? Silly question. Years just slip by, they fall away like leaves from the trees in autumn.

This entry is dedicated to Gimli the rooster. If you are not familiar with him, posts from the past will enlighten if you are interested. I'm not going to go into detail of his life as this story is mainly about his death. When his mate Brighty passed away over two years ago, he seemed to be ok with it. He was a good father to their nine half grown chicks, choosing friends and making a few enemies among the cockerels.

The photo below shows a few of the new generation and Gimli standing next to Brighty very near the end of her long life. She wasn't well. He sensed this and stayed by her side, even bowing his head to let her know he was there.

As the youngsters matured, some major fights broke out as Gimli was challenged for supreme ruler of the roost.

Gimli gave in. He decided to banish himself from the flock by night by refusing to enter the coop, choosing instead to roost in the outer covered area up in what I called 'Obama Corner' for obvious reasons. (hey, I used what I had on hand to block the wind and rain).

This worked out great til the winter set in and I began grabbing Gimli from his perch, carrying him in to the barn to a separate area, placing him on top of a bale of hay each night. After a while, I didn't have to 'grab' him anymore to keep him from escaping my arms, I would simply place my goved hands near his feet and he would step on and move to my forearm and just 'ride' to the barn without the slightest alarm. I actually think he enjoyed it as I would always give him a treat once he settled in for the night.

Northern Michigan winters are hard on chickens, but we made it through this one with no frozen toes, combs or wattles. Spring seemed to arrive early with the first day of March. Temperatures of 60 degrees and higher coaxed the flock outside of their pen to enjoy dust baths in the sun, and bare, unfrozen ground to peck and scratch.

Photo: Gimli off to the left, butt to the camera with two long curled tail-feathers. This photo was taken just two days before he died.

All was well and good until an up-and-coming younger roo began to roost out in Gimli's Obama Corner. At first, I thought they might have become friends and tried to put Gimli up there with him. Nope, not the case. I had to hunt for Gimli at night (he was never very hard to find) and bring him in to the barn leaving the new guy to fend for himself if a predator came around in the night.

The 15th of March was a gorgeous sunny day and the chickens were all out and about doing their thing when Jack our dog suddenly acted like he needed to go outside. I let him out the back slider door and he went straight to a feathered heap on the ground, stopped and sniffed at it. I ran outside to find it was dear Gimli. He looked as if he was just strolling along and fell race first into the dirt. I picked him up, he was still a bit warm, but his feet were cold and he was just not there anymore. He had no wounds, no feathers were missing, no sign of a struggle and the others were quiet. If there had been a predator such as a hawk, they all would be sounding alarm. He just up and died, I guess. Or perhaps he simply decided it was time to go.

I placed him on a snow drift with the plan to bury him later in the day. As the sun began to set, I took Gimli out into the woods behind our house looking for the perfect resting place. I had decided not to bury him after all and just let nature take it's course. Finding a large tree fallen and uprooted, I placed him down where the roots had been which had made an opening like a small cave and walked back toward the house.

It was late enough now that all the others had gone inside for the night (even the guy that stole Gimli's roost, abandoned it that night). All at once they were making noise as if a predator was in the coop. I rushed in to find nothing was after them but they continued to squawk and holler.
I decided it was a send-off to their father (and grandfather), a chorus of farewell and safe passage. I told them all goodnight and made a quick check of the nest boxes, even though it had been several months since any eggs had been layed. There in one box was the first egg of 2010. True story.

Portrait of Gimli and Brighty by artist Mary Jill...


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wiki'd Women

Metal junk mail. what could be cooler?

My second entry to the 2009 EBSQ Junk Mail Show. I don't know if AOL still sends out offers in these nifty little tins, but I found one that I had stashed a while back.

I sanded the lid to give it a distressed look, added snippets of my collection of envelope security linings, along with a half dozen stamps my father had saved from old correspondence from the 1950's and topped it off with vintage blue rick-rack just because.

Then I Wiki'd the women on the stamps as a bit of a history lesson. First we have:

Susan B. Anthony 1820-1906 the B. is for Brownell. American civil rights leader made famous for her role in the 19th century women's rights movement to introduce women's suffrage into the United States. She also learned to read and write at the age of three!

Martha Washington shown here on the one and a half cent. 1731-1802 The first first lady. At the tender age of 17 she married a rich planter 20 years her senior. She had four children, became a rich widow at 25 and married George two years later. George and Martha had no children together.

Mother Mary Aikenhead 1787-1858 Brought up in the Church of Ireland, but became a Roman Catholic in 1802 and later founded the religious order, the Sisters of Charity.

Lucy Stone 1818-1893 Prominent American abolitionist and suffragist, and a vocal advocate and organizer promoting rights for women. She was the first known woman to keep her maiden name after marriage and the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree.

Queen Elizabeth (QEll) 1926-present. She is currently enjoying the ipod that Barack & Michelle Obama presented to her recently.

Lady Liberty 1886-present. A gift from the people of France, she stands tirelessly on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, welcoming visitors, immigrants, and returning Americans traveling by ship. Before it's demolition, the Coney Island Elephant was actually the first structure seen by immigrants arriving in New York.

See the current EBSQ Junk Mail Show here. Entries accepted til the end of April.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Vintage Cats overtake Nibblefest!

The February theme for Nibblefest, an ebay art contest is Vintage Cats, and this month's event should be howls of fun. My piece is a mixed media (but mostly acrylic) painting on the surface of a repurposed wooden kitchen cupboard door I found at Habitat for Humanity Restore.

"You disrupted my nap for this?" sez our recently adopted cat Kitters.

Below you will see the the inspirations for 'Katze' which can be found on auction HERE Search NFAC on ebay from now til February 27th to see all the fabulous vintage cats each beginning at just 99 cents!

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

New Corvid Art Calendar for 2009

I admit, I got behind. The NEW CROW ART CALENDAR I had planned to leisurely create beginning last spring got pushed to the back of my mind and I had to scurry to complete it while there was still a little of 2008 left. Some of the art, I am less than ecstatic about, but perhaps the other images will make up for it.
I will be offering what is left of the original pieces featured in the calendar in my etsy shop Saraphina.
There are only a couple listed right now with four more to be added soon.

I also made a NEW HOLIDAY ORNAMENT (available with or without cherry) using the February image through my cafepress shop as well and I am pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

a new puppy in the whitehouse....

I can't let this day go by without a small entry on what took place in America yesterday. This outcome was my ultimate wish, my hope and I wasn't always quiet about it. Now, we need healing for a country that is still divided but the walls are beginning to crumble. I think the most moving moment for me was how a father vowed to kept a promise to his young daughters last night; there will be a new puppy as promised as the new first family moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reluctantly revealing my first WIP

My artist friend MJ is posting a WIP or work in progress in her blog Mary Jill Lemieur Designs. Check it out, isn't she fantastic?

Portraits are something I have always dabbled in, thanks to my mother who was also intrigued by faces, being a photo-colorist back in the day before color photography was available or affordable for family photos. High school graduation 8x10's were the staple of mom's work-at-home business. I remember as a small child seeing package after package arriving in the mail for my mother to paint and box up and return to the big studios in Detroit. Mom was a professional and she was in big demand in the 50's and 60's.

She didn't get much money for this work, about $1 or $1.50 per 8 x 10, but if you asked her why she didn't raise her rates, she would reply 'I really can't because many of the studios are switching over to natural color as the cost of it comes down and I have to keep my prices low to stay in business.'

Today photo-coloring is an fine art form that not too many people have the know-how or equipment to undertake. Mother had special artist photo-grade oil paints she ordered through the mail, a compressor driven air-brush for the background effects, assorted brushes for those desiring a 'heavy oil' portrait and lots of pure fluffy white cotton to pull and twist onto pointed sticks which she used to apply the paint and rub down to the correct transparency. And turpentine, lots of turpentine.

I would watch in awe as she worked quickly before the paint started to dry. She seemed to pull and twist that cotton onto a stick, add some detail, and flick off the used cotton and twist on a fresh wad in the blink of an eye.

Ok, so here are Cathy and Bill. Extraordinary people I have met though common interests right here on the wonderful world wide web. I chose photos where they happen to both be wearing hats and I am painting them on 6 inch textured ceramic tiles which were a salvaged supplies item that I have found to work out quite nicely in the past.

Here first are the rough pencil sketches on the prepaired tiles (a coat of white Kilz) and then my first applications of paint. I can already see that Cathy is too pink and Bill is jut too dirty looking but I will hopefully remedy this as I move along.
Comments, laughter and snide remarks are encouraged. More photos to follow.

OK, this is harder than I thought, posting pix of an unfinished portrait. Whenever I look at my own work, all I see are the flaws. My first mistake in my initial sketch was not following the slight tilt if Bill's head. It threw everything off. But it is a little late now. His forehead should be taller, I've made his chin too big, his nose a tad too short. I need to put this painting aside for a bit and concentrate on how I can mess up Cathy's...ha!

NOVEMBER 25 UPDATE: Where does the time go? I am starting to stray from the photo a bit so I am not sure if this is looking like Cathy or not since I only know her face from pictures. Also, I need to ask her what color are her eyes. I have made them blue for now.


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