Saturday, January 22, 2011

Odds and Ends

It was a funny week here in St. Crazy, both weather-wise and art-wise. The weather was all over the place: we had bitter cold, then above freezing temperatures, sleet, freezing rain, and snow. Now we are back to bitter cold again. Winter in Quebec provides a little something for everyone, I guess.

As for art projects, there was also a little bit of everything. My plan was to continue with my Clothed Dogs series of collages. I was waiting for an opportunity to photograph a friend's mini-Dachshunds in their sweaters but the weather conditions and my schedule were not co operating. I did get as far as photographing one of my own dogs, though. Here is Toby looking smashing in a royal blue, form fitting, little knit number.

Toby in Blue - photo by the artist

With my dogs- in- sweaters plans thwarted for the time being, I shifted my attentions to making the preparatory drawing for a big collage that I had been planning for several months. I was having a good time working on that one until I realised that I wouldn't be able to get beyond the drawing stage. The reason? My big garage/studio does not yet have proper heating (not good when it's -20 degrees C) and my indoor spare bedroom studio lacks adequate workspace to accommodate the large panel. So...what to do?

Happily, mid-week my husband came home with a bag of cast off neckties- a gift from his father (thanks M.) - to add to my Cache of Truly Hideous Neckties, bits and pieces of which regularly appear in my collages. Check out these babies:

Photo by the artist

Now, when you look at these ties, I don't know what comes to your mind, but to me they said, "Rooster!". Lucky for me, I had already made drawings for some rooster collages which hadn't gotten beyond the planning stage, (Hmm...anybody else beginning to notice a pattern here?) which meant that a fair bit of the work was already done. I simply had to get a-gluing. Here is the result:
Rooster - 9"x8" painted paper and fabric collage on panel ©2011 Alyson Champ

There are still some small details on the image to work out, but he is very nearly complete. And, I am pleased to add, he is already sold.

Rooster detail -front end....

...and back.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Well Dressed Dog

My first collage of 2011, and the second dog collage in what I hope will be a series of Dogs in Coats, is finished. The subject of this collage is Gus, a pug who belongs to a friend. Here he is below.

Gus- photo by Alison Taylor

Cute little fellow, isn't he? And also strangely noble. Big dogs often look goofy, but small dogs have a way of exuding self importance: they really don't seem to understand the whole size-thing. I guess that's just part of what makes little dogs so endearing.

As you can see, the photo of Gus shows him in a black coat. Black is not an especially easy colour to work with when making art. As colours go, plain black looks flat and dead and really dominates the composition. So, the black was out. I could also see that for design purposes the stumps would be problematic. As much I liked the original picture, clearly some changes would be in order.

Sorting out the background and removing the stumps wasn't much of an issue. But the colour of the doggy coat? Well, would it be Red Gus?
Photo by the artist

Or Blue?
Photo by the artist

After pondering this dilemma for a while, I remembered that I have a collection of silk neckties in the craziest colours and patterns. Finally, a solution presented itself.

Gus- 8x6 painted paper and fabric collage on panel ©2011 Alyson Champ

Here is Gus in his new sport coat made from a silk necktie dating from the early eighties. It's what all the fashionable lap dogs are wearing this season.

Gus -detail

Next up, Dachshunds!

Monday, January 3, 2011

So You Say You Want a Resolution?

Welcome, 2011!

I don't normally do the New Year's Resolutions thing. Tackling bad habits it has taken years to acquire, and thereby attempting to remake one's life in a short list just because it's January, smells like a set up for failure. I resolve instead to choose resolutions that are do-able, things I might be inclined by nature to do anyway, but just haven't gotten around to doing yet. I hereby resolve to:

Use the word brachycephalic more frequently. English is chock full of fabulous words. Bamboozle is a beauty, as is mukluk*. Just saying mukluk aloud is guaranteed to lift one's mood. You doubt me? Go ahead and try it.


See, I told you.
Just recently I started making a series of collages featuring dogs in sweaters or doggy coats. Why? Well, as with the word mukluk, a dog wearing a sweater is so inherently ridiculous that seeing a canine so attired makes me smile. What could possibly be better than a dog in a sweater**, you might ask? Why, a brachycephalic dog in a sweater, of course! When I saw a friend's photo of her pug in his little coat, I could not resist. Say hello to "Gus", everyone. Isn't he handsome?

Pencil sketch of Gus
(Oh, and incidentally that's two brachycephalics - no three- in one post! Bazinga!)

Quit Slacking Off and Actually Get Some Work Done. I went into the studio to work today for the first time in a couple of weeks and it felt pretty good. I was a little slow getting started, but did manage to get some drawing done and to get a panel prepared for the new collage of Gus. However, my studio assistant, Tabitha, was more than an hour late. During the Christmas break, she got into the habit of sleeping in a rocker by the woodstove - guess she forgot it was Monday. That's coming off your paycheck, cat.

Tabitha on the job- photo by the artist (that would be me).

Make more drawings of sinister-looking rodents. Shortly before Christmas, I began a drawing of our rabbit, Jasper, to give as a gift to a friend who has a fondness for rabbits. I was quite pleased with the drawing until my daughter looked at it and said, "It's nice, but he looks kind of evil." I ended up giving the friend a tin of Bag Balm instead. What can I say? Bring on the mice and squirrels.

Jasper - Pencil drawing ©2010 Alyson Champ

Stop swearing. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! NEXT.

Spend more time discovering the work of other artists. Here are some artists whose work I have recently discovered.
Elizabeth St. Hilaire-Nelson is a collage artist who lives in Florida. We recently "met" (in the virtual sense) and have exchanged Christmas cards (in the actual sense). I think her work is colourful and gorgeous.
Claudia Roulier makes assemblages, collages, and paintings which are funny-bordering-on-disturbed.
I have my husband to thank for turning me on to the work of Brian Dettmer. This guy carves books - yes, you read that right- carves books. Check it out. I guarantee his work will blow your mind.

Pay my hay bill. Sorry V. The cheque is (almost) in the mail.

Stop worrying about money. I have been poor, but neither I, nor my business has ever been bankrupt. Donald Trump has been on the verge of personal bankruptcy and his businesses have been bankrupt not once, but TWICE. So.... who's the failure again? Plus, this is really my hair.

Spend more time petting my dogs, playing with my cats, talking to my sheep, and less time arguing with the humans in my life.
That's about it. Happy New Year!

* If it's in the OED, it's word.
** If any of you are dog owners and have photos of your dog in a sweater or doggy coat, and you wouldn't mind seeing your dog so immortalized in a collage, please send those photos to me at: Extra points for brachycephalic dogs. (That's four times, baby!)