Thursday, February 14, 2013

Horses and More Horses

Some new horse themed collages hot off the work table. The post parade at Saratoga is a favourite horsey subject of mine. I love the riot of colour that is Saratoga in the summer: the candy striped awnings,the lush green landscape, the flamboyant crowd of spectators, the jockeys' vibrant silks.  And then, of course, there are the colours of the horses themselves: browns, blacks, bays, chestnuts, and- least common - the variety of greys.

"Three Greys and a Bay" 14 x 20 painted paper collage on cradle panel. Copyright  Alyson Champ 2013

"Three Greys and a Bay" detail

I had fun trying to capture the look and colour of the wet track with collage paper, let me tell you!

And speaking of colour, the inspiration for the above collage came to me from some reference photos taken by my friend and fellow artist, Kimberly Kelly Santini. Kim specializes in canine art, and she is one of the best colourists I have ever seen in any subject matter. If you are not familiar with her work, I encourage you to check it out. Click here.

The next collage was inspired by the Rolex Three Day Event in Kentucky. Eventing is a discipline which I find both amazing and frightening: amazing in the incredible versatility of both equine and human athlete; frightening because there are some seriously scary accidents- usually in the cross country. The collage below  depicts the calm, restrained beauty of dressage.

"In the Moment" 10 x 8 painted paper collage on cradled panel. Copyright Alyson Champ 2013

My husband kindly constructed a batch of 24 X 24 cradled panels for me to use as supports for new collages. So will it be more horses, or something else? Hmmm.....What do you think?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Get Out Your Woolies

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that in addition to my work in the the art studio, my husband and I also run a mixed farm of some forty acres. And on this farm we have some vegetables, small fruit, chickens, turkeys, ducks and, of course, our famous flock of sheep. Famous flock of sheep? If you don't believe our sheep are famous, just ask the neighbours. Maybe infamous would be a better description.  I mean the sheep, not the neighbours.

When I have a little spare time, I work with the wool  which we have in bountiful supply from our Border Leicester ewes. I like to spin the wool and I like to knit, although I am not especially adept at either. Still, it's the closest thing I have to a hobby. Through keeping the sheep and working with their wool, I have also met a number of interesting and talented people. One of these people is Johanne Ratelle of L'Ourse Qui Danse alpaca ranch in Godmanchester, Quebec.

Johanne has been buying some of our wool clip to blend with her alpaca fiber. So when I received the invitation to attend the opening of an exhibition featuring the workings and wares of L'Ourse Qui Danse, of course I had to see what Johanne and her business partner/co-pilot Chantal were up to. And they have been up to quite a lot!

This huge contraption is a nineteenth century barn loom.

Some of Johanne's beautiful weaving.

Skeins like candy!

More handiwork.

And more skeins- these with natural dyes and a detailed explanation of dye plants, materials, and mordants. The mustard yellow colour of the shawl below left was produced with onion skins. 

The red and candy pink dyes are made with cochineal. Yes folks, that's ground up dead bugs. Sounds gross, looks great!

Below is super talented handspinner and knitter Amanda Carrigan giving a spinning demo on her nifty little portable wheel.

I feel the overwhelming urge to knit! Or spin! Or both!