originally i built this blog to chronicle the folk dogs, but now that they are sort of self-sufficient, i don't have a lot to say. look, here is a folk dog. and here is another one. and another. it gets sort of, er, repetitive. so now, the folk dog blog is going to be folk dogs plus some, aka a way for my to chronicle everything from folk dogs to pinterest adventures to health & fitness to photography to (fill in the blank). because it turns out i need a place to put all this stuff, and also i spent a ton of money getting some degrees in creative writing, so, you know, i figure i should write.
i have never been good at resolutions. it seems like i'm so busy over the holidays that the new year sneaks up on me and then it's july. so, how about easter resolutions? resurrected resolutions?
now that spring is here for real, it's high time i sorted out my priorities. so here it goes.
1) stop eating junk. i gave myself a break over the holidays and the holidays have lasted 4 months. i mostly eat a pretty great diet full of protein and veggies. but, in the past few months cookies and m&ms have taken over part of my diet pie chart (those jerks!). so, i gotta back off. although i am at an ideal weight for my height and age and all those other factors, and although i consider myself to be pretty fit, i just don't need the sugar. google doesn't think i need it either ... i googled "oreos" and look what i found. this creepy hugging oreo and mean-looking glass of milk may have cured me of my problem.
2) get to work on the quilt i am going to make this year. i have never made a quilt. i figure now is the time to start. when i look at quilts, i see the design work in them, and as a designer and lover of colors and projects, i think i will really enjoy quilting. i **think.** in fact, now that the folk dogs pretty much take care of themselves, i sort of need a new hobby. quilting, here i come.
this is the quilt i want to make:
gorgeous, right? mine won't be exactly like this, of course, but the colors and half-square triangles are what i'm going for. according to my mom (who **has** made quilts), this will be "easy." naturally, i am terrified. nevertheless, i am collecting fabric, taking my sewing machine (a kenmore i inherited from my mom after she bought her fancy new sewing with swanky buttons and actual brains. the kenmore is older than me; we are talking 35+ years old, here, folks. i hope those parts are good) to the sewing machine repair shop in belgrade for a tune-up, and obsessively re-reading the blog post from which the above image came.
my goal is to get the triangles cut over the course of the summer, sew the squares and rows this fall, and then do the quilting (by hand?!?!?!) in the late fall/early winter. this seems like a completely reasonable timeframe for my first-ever quilt. i may get to it all faster depending on how fast my ancient sewing machine gets fixed. because after i make this one i want to make like a gazillion more.
so the point of this goal is to stop talking about it and start actually in real life doing it.
3) spend more time with these three.
they are growing up too fast. period. kristen, on the left: we share a middle name (marie) and nearly a birthday (she's 8/15, i'm 8/16). she is athletic, funny (knock-knock jokes made up on the spot!), and creative. according to my mom, she is just like me. god help us all. charlotte, in the middle: we share an eye color (green) and the burden of being the oldest sister. she is smart, sensitive, and giving. i witnessed her birth, an event i will remember and cherish for all of my life. danni, on the right: we share a love of life and all of its surprises: balloons in the sky, ants on the sidewalk. she is the sweetest, most precious baby girl, savvy for her age (thanks to her older sisters), and very coy (in case you can't tell). i love her sense of self, how big it is for such a puny little thing.
they're in denver, and i go down as often as i can. as they grow up, i hope i can be as inspiring to them as they are to me. and now that their mom has an iPhone, i figure it's my duty as their aunt to teach them about FaceTime. ;-)
4) keep up a blog. oh wait, i am sort of doing that, right? this was an actual new year's resolution for the past two years, and i am only now acknowledging it. better late than never.
i got a nice email the other day from an administrator at gallatin gateway school. she was letting me know that students in the art classes at the school were using the 'folk dog style' to paint portraits of their own pets. what fun! the image at the right is by morgan, who is in 8th grade. nice work!
since that email, i've had a chance to correspond with the gallatin gateway art teacher, and she invited me to come to the school to talk to the students in art class. this is something i've never done before, and i'm really excited. my art teachers were really important to me when i was in school; in one way or another, all of them have something to do with turning me into an artist. i don't remember having local artists come to our classes to talk to us, but i know i would have loved it. plus, it makes me feel great that the folk dogs are encouraging and inspiring kids to stay interested in art.
coincidentally, i was in contact with yet another school administrator this week, about donating to a fundraiser the school will have this fall. all of this has me thinking about being more involved with art in schools programs. i'm not really sure what's out there, but i'm going to poke around and see what i can find out. yay for art!
i've written a little bit about folk art in the past -- how much i love it, how it resonates for me. one of the things i like the most about folk art is that it is virtually impossible to define; it can mean different things to different people, and different artists have varying philosophies, approaches, techniques, etc.
i have a tendency to latch on to the winsome and whimsical, when it comes to folk art. i've mentioned a guy called cornbread, whose guinea hens, in particular, i am very fond of. i love their HUGE eyes and their general spunk.
since i live in a small town and don't travel all that much, i don't get to see a lot of folk art in person. we have some great galleries here in bozeman, but not many of them carry folk artists as much as fine artists. there's a great little place in the emerson center for the arts and culture called tart. the tartress and i go back a few years, and she has been a big supporter of the folk dogs from very early on. so i am partial to the place, for sure.
for the two years or so (or maybe more, memory fails me), tart has carried these super awesome paper maché animals by adair peck. i have loved them since i first laid on them. the big animals -- moose, antelope, etc. -- captured my attention first, maybe because in this part of the country those are the kinds of animals we see. i always liked the idea of hanging a 'trophy' folk animal of some kind. adair's dogs are awesome too -- i was flattered recently when someone asked me if i made those into addition to the folk dog paintings. i wish i could work in 3D like that!
ok, so what is the point? the point is that a paper maché moose is now mine, all mine, in one of the best surprises ever pulled off in the history of surprises. (i don't like surprises, really, and i'm a bit difficult to surprise; thus the praise for this one.) the moose that is mine is one i have been eyeing for a little while, complete with polka-dot antlers and delicious-looking green moose food. i love it! LOVE.
you can't really tell from the photos, but it's about four feet wide from antler to antler, and probably two feet from antler tip to chin. this is not it's final hanging place, but it will do for today. or maybe a few days.
so, the quest to fill my life and house up with folk art continues ...
i am trying to be better about this blogging business ... between painting, and more painting, and making stuff, and running the actual folk dog business, i feel like i fall behind on the blog. boo. sorry 'bout that.
so ... let's talk about dog toys. my three dogs have more toys than they collectively know what to do with, and they each have their favorites. frida and selah both love balls for fetching outside. inside, frida loves these funny little 'fidgets' made by Go Dog ... which, incidentally, happen to be the ONLY stuffed toys that selah doesn't disembowel. mae prefers her frisbee outside, and inside, well, she likes ... socks. it's totally my fault, because i have let her have my socks since she was just a puppy. she doesn't put holes in them or anything; she just carries them around in her soft, gooey lab mouth.
i've been thinking about breaking her of this. then, the other day, i came across an entry about these boiled wool dog balls on phetched -- an awesome blog 'where form and function meet fido.' i love boiled wool stuff, myself, partly because of the feel, and also because of how bright and colorful and cheery and charming a lot of boiled wool products are. so i clicked on through to muttropolis.com, where i loved everything i read about these boiled wool balls. i ordered two.
yesterday, the balls arrived, and they are awesome. the dogs love them! mae spent some time making hers all slobbery and bringing it to me over and over to toss for her. frida is so smitten with hers that she drops it on the ground and rolls on it -- her way of making it "hers."
i don't know if these balls will break mae of her sock habit, but i do know that i'm glad we have some in the house. they're perfect for fetch, and even if the dogs don't notice their artistry, i certainly do.
i was at the vet the other day with all three of the knuckleheads, for their yearly check-ups. my vet happens to be a friend of mine, which is a good thing. i highly recommend that you befriend a vet if you have animals. anyway, as the vet was doing black lab selah's exam, she asked what "selah" means and how selah got her name.
now, anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that i love word etymologies. i gave the vet the short answer right then and there, but later i went home, did a little bit of research and emailed her a big, long answer. because that's how i am.
so, back to selah and her name. first off, it's pronounced "SAY-luh." and second off, i didn't name her. selah came into my world about 3 years ago, when her then-owner decided to move to hawai'i. at the time, hawai'i didn't have rabies on any of the islands and therefore had a six-month quarantine for all visiting animals. selah's owner decided not to put her through that, and a friend of a friend mentioned that selah needed a good home. so that's how i got her.
her previous owner is some combination of an old testament scholar and a yoga master. "selah" is a word that appears in the old testatment a lot, and it appears to indicate a pause or stillness. that's the short answer i gave the vet.
the longer answer is that "selah" ("celah") comes from the hebrew word "calah," which means "to hang," and implies hanging a weight for measure, like in a balance. "selah" came to mean "weigh," as in "weigh someone's words," or, basically, that we should measure or value what has been said. that's why so many old testament verses end with it: "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." (Psalms 4:4).
i'm no biblical scholar, but i find this pretty fascinating.
it's a great name for a great dog -- unusual, meaningful, and, in selah's case, fitting.
so, how'd you decide on a name for your dog(s) or cat(s)?
recently, a few people have asked about folk cats. yes, there are folk cats! i haven't really marketed them very much, because the dogs are doing so well. but i know cat people love their cats as much as dog people love their dogs; i'm no dummy. one of these days i'll get around to posting these guys in the gallery, or maybe the folk kitties will have their own gallery. who knows?
i don't usually sketch out dogs on the canvas before i paint them. i just sort of, well, start painting. occasionally, though, someone asks me to paint a specific breed of dog, and for the life of me i cannot conjure up what the heck that kind of dog looks like.
case in point: irish setter.
i started shuffling through the catalog of dogs in my brain: not the wolfhound; not a spaniel; not terrier ... irish? what the?
i must have run through 15 breeds before i caved and googled it. lo and behold, irish setters sort of look like frida. i know for sure she's half golden retriever, but the other half is anyone's guess. certainly she exhibits the paranoid personality some sites attribute to the irish setter.
anyway, i found a good image, quickly sketched it on a notepad – complete with not-very-detailed notes – and started painting. i think i didn't get the ears quite right, but at least i know what an irish setter looks like now. this little guy will go up in the march show at tart in the emerson.
more folk dog anatomies coming in the future! and happy new year, everyone!
i'm finally getting this website in ship-shape, thanks to the fine fellows at thermal creative in bozeman. drupal is making it so i don't have to actually crack any code. which is a good thing, believe me.
also, yesterday i came home from work to find five -- that's 5 -- boxes of canvases on the porch. poor fedex guy; he probably hated having to make multiple trips to the front door with the dogs barking at him through the picture window. tucked inside of one of those boxes were three tubes of paint. i'm trying out some new paint. so far? i like it. more paint, please.
so, considering the fedex guy did all that work lugging this stuff to the door, i guess i better get painting ...
for as long as i can remember, i have been a fan of folk art. i think what i like best about it is the ’self-taught’ aspect. i love that it’s a genre where people who sort of don’t know what they’re doing (in comparison, i guess, to fine artists, and i know that this is not always the case) — and therefore have almost no pretenses or expectations – just go for it and make art. these people are like me. i mostly don’t know what i’m doing. i put paint on a canvas and shape it into a dog.
i also like the grassroots-ish feeling that folk art has — the way it captures a certain culture or attitude or way of being. missionary mary proctor has always been on one of my favorites, and lately i’ve been enjoying looking at work by lucy hunnicutt, after receiving a postcard with one of her paintings on it from american folk art and framing in asheville, nc. (see "Rev. Lowery's Prayer" Painting by Lucy Hunnicutt, 2009 at the right.)
recently, i bought a small painting by an artist called ‘cornbread‘. i mean, the guy goes by ‘cornbread’ — how could i not want to buy his art? the painting i bought is only about 5×7 and is of a mini red guinea hen, acrylic on cardboard. i LOVE it. it’s got this giant eye that is simultaneously freakishly cute and all-seeing.
people have asked how the folk dogs got their name. well, this is how: my lack of technical skill and love of folk art. i’m not sure precisely when i realized that the dogs i was painting were folk dogs, but one thing’s for certain: that’s exactly what they are. it fits. and now, i’m going to go covet some more paintings by cornbread.
yesterday i took a much needed break from painting and played in the yard with the dogs. frida and selah are ball hogs, and mae loves her frisbee. it was cool and windy out, with crazy high clouds. after the dogs were too tired to retrieve any more (which takes awhile, for retrievers), i got out the camera and decided to have an impromptu photo shoot. i have this crazy idea that someday one of my dogs will make the cover of the orvis dog catalog. heh. i mean, my dogs are AWESOME. here is the proof:
frida, frida, selah
there are no pictures of mae, because she took her frisbee inside and headed straight for the couch. she’s no dummy. one of these days i’ll try for a shot of her making a leaping catch …
well, i’m not quite finished painting my house, but it’s an amazing transition, and totally worth all the time and effort. i’m an early riser, usually up before the sun, and this morning i noticed that the new house color, which is a sort of redwood/red/brown, makes the light inside the house seem warmer at sunrise. i don’t know if it’s the way the new color absorbs the sunlight, or if it’s some kind of refraction or reflection, or if it’s just my imagination, but it’s really nice, and i like it.
it reminds me of an email i got from a woman who commissioned a painting. i’m behind in my commissions, due to the unexpected onset of barkwheats (no complaints, only cheers!), but i’m about to get back on track with them. i’d emailed this particular client a couple of weeks ago to ask what kind of background she was thinking about for the painting of her two awesome dogs. i sent her to my gallery page so she could get an idea of what colors she might be interested in. her response was so beautiful that i’m posting a bunch of it here:
“I’m … looking at all your backgrounds of all your dogs on the website. One sticks in my mind. If you go 9 rows down on the gallery page the one in the middle (2nd one from left)– there’s a yellow-ish guy with flopped over ears. The background is magenta-ish, with some nice depth to it, and looks like a cloudy sunset just before rain. The Navajo have a ceremony called the Blessing Way that starts like this:
In the house made of dawn In the house made of sunset light In the house made of rain clouds… With beauty before us, we walk That yellow dog’s background reminds me of that imagery.
What do you think? Would it work with our knucklehead twins and their colors? Be honest. I just dream; you paint what it is you dream.”
this blew me away. what a lady. i can’t WAIT to paint her dogs.
this weekend, while painting my house, i had this sort of epiphany …. that painting is really just pushing around some pigment with a brush. controlling it, if you will. for the most part, i can be fairly sloppy on the house: throw the paint on, move it around some, et voila — total exterior makeover. it’s really rewarding to see the fruits of your labor so quickly.
of course, painting isn’t really just pushing around pigment. there’s a concept involved, and usually a goal that’s more specific than ‘i want to turn my blue house brown.’ one of the things that i love about painting folk dogs is that often i never know what i’m going to get. the dogs seem to take on a life of their own once i start filling them out. it’s not as if they’re directing me, necessarily, but there’s a sense of freedom and exploration that each dog gives me.
someone asked me the other day how many folk dogs i’ve painted. i don’t really know, to be honest. i’ve been painting these guys in earnest for the last 18 months or so, and i’ve probably painted close to 120 dogs. that’s about 1.5 paintings per week. sometimes, when i have three or four easels out, it’s overwhelming. painting starts feeling like a job, instead of something i began doing as a hobby. and i have to remind myself that this is a **good** thing.
last night i was working on the ginger & parsley canvas for barkwheats … and i ran into some issues that i haven’t really encountered before. by pushing some paint around though, i got them resolved in fairly short order. and even though the problem-solving was a little bit of work, it was totally worth it in the end, because it only added to my so-called ‘toolbox’ when it comes to painting.
i think there might be a lot of mixed metaphors in this entry, and i’m not sure what the point is. i know that i’m grateful for the folk dogs — for the freedom they give me, and for the challenges they present. standing in my “studio” (which is really just a little space off the kitchen) and looking at easels of folk dogs in various stages of grinning back is one of the most rewarding things in my life, and something i do not take for granted, even when it’s “work.”
i’ve been painting my house. the outside of it. let me tell you, **that** is a capital-C Chore. it’s a biggish house …. and i need a 20-foot extension ladder to get to the tallest parts. so when i say ‘i’ve been painting my house’ what i really mean is ‘i’ve been running up and down ladders all the live-long day.’ the house is not quite 1/2 finished, but i am pleased with today’s progress. plus, i super-heart the new color — a brownish redwood-ish reddish warm hue.
during the little random rainstorm we had, i managed to get the outline done on barkwheats painting #3. paintings #1 and #2 are both nearly done, and i’m really happy with both of them. i’m not going to post them until the People In Charge Of Barkwheats have posted them on their own site … so no spoilers here. i’ll make more progress on #3 tonight, after it’s too dark to run up and down ladders. it’s entirely possible that my hands will morph into paintbrushes, given how much time i seem to be holding one lately.
also i’m still learning how to work this blog thing. so, you know, it might change. or i might mess it up. who knows? like, if anyone reading this knows how i can get the dumb footer off of this thing, let me know. (edit: no dumb footer thanks to new content management system!)
man. i think i just figured out how to paint a ball into a dog's mouth. which is not the same as painting a dog into a ball's mouth.
i also think i figured out that balls cost extra. in fact, i think all props cost extra.
i'm about 2/3 of the way finished with the 4 dogs for the father's day commission. i've sent pics to the commissioner and so far she is way pleased, so that's good. haven't sent the dog w/ ball in mouth yet, though.