Friday, February 19, 2010

Sheep Go to Heaven

Pinceau, aka The Goat

I never fully understood the connection between goats and the devil until I owned a goat, and then it all became clear. It's not their horns or their weird eyes that make them seem evil. It's their personalities.
Sheep will test your fences, get into your garden, run when you don't want them to, or refuse to move when you most need them to, but what sheep seem to lack, and what goats possess in abundance, isn't so much intelligence as it is a creative imagination: the capacity to posit the big "what if ", as in

"What if I turn the key in the tractor ignition?"

"Suppose I eat this bucket handle?"

"I wonder what would happen if I picked up this handsaw and
ran away with it?"

Sheep just don't think this way.

The Goat never ceased trying to find new ways to amuse himself- amuse himself and torment us. Ever the nimble escape artist, he broke, jumped, or climbed his way out of every stall, pen, or paddock he was put in. From his point of view, a fence wasn't so much an enclosure as it was a suggestion: "You probably should stay in here and eat this grass...but then again, you might prefer to be out there eating those currant bushes. Really, it's entirely up to you."

He ate through electrical wiring in the barn, pulled insulation out of the walls, broke windows, collapsed feeders, and destroyed the slop sink by standing in it. With lips as quick as the Artful Dodger's fingers, The Goat could go through your pockets and grab your wallet, a pen, a utility knife, a syringe full of penicillin, a pair of hoof shears, or just about anything else you'd care to mention, and be off with it in a flash . You wouldn't even know something was missing until you found yourself patting your pockets, saying, "Now where the heck did I put that...."
Too many times my tool belt clad husband would go out to the barn to repair some goat-related damage and come back with half his screw drivers missing. Or his tape-measure. Or his pliers.
And that myth about goats eating anything and everything? Well, that's not a myth. They really will eat anything. I didn't believe it either until I witnessed The Goat cheerfully scarfing down a plastic bag with a side order of latex glove.

In the end it wasn't his appetite for destruction that ended The Goat's tenure here as much as it was simply his appetite. One day The Goat got out into the yard and ate my husband's plantation of cherry trees. And that was that.

Now, The Goat lives at my friend Anna-Maria's place. No, it wasn't an act of revenge for those horrible (but ultimately tasty) Muscovy ducks that she gave me. As crazy as it sounds, she really wanted The Goat. Honest!

Julius Caesar, Border Leicester Ram

What's on the Easel

I have almost finished all the collages for my upcoming exhibition, and yes, many of these new collages feature my sweet, beautiful sheep. I promise to have all the photography done for the next post so that those of you who can't get to the show itself will at least be able to see a virtual version of it. Until then I'm happy to share with you some of the reference photos which serve as the inspiration for my work. And no, there won't be any goat collages!

Fabulous Fionna, Border Leicester ewe

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Culture - It's Not Just a City Thing

We are fortunate out here in the Chateauguay Valley to have a rich cultural life, and no, I don't mean that we get HBO on cable. This is a rural community that takes culture seriously, and not just imported "city" culture, but local culture. Besides our sizable population of cows, we also have a large number of professional, high calibre artists of virtually every type: writers, theatre people, all manner of musicians, and visual artists. And the really nice part is that, as a local artist, you can put on a show, or a concert, or an exhibition, and people will actually come out to see or hear your work and support you. I went to a vernissage last weekend for a local painter and the exhibition space was absolutely packed. I've seen Montreal galleries with smaller crowds at the opening of a show. So, all you city people, don't be fooled by our laid-back rural ways. Interesting, stimulating things do go on beyond your crowded streets and highways. There is definitely some culture out here in the heart of agriculture.
Photo courtesy of MRC du Haut-St-Laurent

One of our little jewels is the exhibition space in the old "Chateau" hotel in the town of Huntingdon. Salle Alfred Langevin (above) is an elegant, open and beautifully lit gallery space which is administered by our MRC -a sort of association of rural municipalities. Every year the cultural committee accepts proposals from artists looking to mount exhibitions. This year I am getting the exhibition space from March 14- April 4 and I will be showing my collages. The MRC prints your posters, invitations (and mails them), supplies the food and drink for the vernissage, and sends out all the press releases to the media. OK, so it's not Berlin or New York, but the space is free and there is no commission on sales. From an artist's point of view, it doesn't get much better than that!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Paint, Paper, Scissors and Glue

"To have all your work and to have them along the wall, it's like walking in with no clothes on. It's terrible."-Andrew Wyeth

I'm getting pretty excited about my upcoming collage exhibition. Excited and a little nervous. Although I am looking forward to showing my collages for the first time, I'm also concerned about the public response. Most people who know my artwork know me as an oil painter, primarily as a painter of horses. I have been making collages regularly for the past year or so, and generally the response from the people who have seen these new works has been positive. But a solo exhibition of only collages? Will people love it? Hate it? Or simply be indifferent to it? I just don't know. I do know this though, I have greatly enjoyed making the collages. I can only hope that some of my pleasure in making them is transferred to the viewer.
Mauve Iris -painted paper collage mounted on canvas, 24X20 ©Alyson Champ

The above image is the last of my large scale floral collages. Yes, I am still very much hooked on the phthalocyanine blue and quinacridone blue/violet. Below is a recently completed collage of the same dimensions and similar palette, but with a slightly different subject. I have been trying to come up with a suitable name for it. For now it is called Tranquil.

Tranquil- painted paper collage mounted on canvas, 24x20 ©Alyson Champ

The invitations to the vernissage will be in the mail soon and I have just seen the lay out for the poster, which looks very nice. I will post more details about the exhibition closer to its March 14th opening date.