Monday, October 1, 2012

The Old House, 24x18, Oil on Wood Panel, 2012

Well, so here we are. It's no secret that I have been spotty about posting here for several years. I have always WANTED to keep it going but I just kinda lost my words and direction. I felt like I had told all my good stories and didn't want to start repeating them. eventually I just felt like I just didn't have as much time or the right energy to sit down and put together a good post. I guess facebook played a part, it certainly was an interesting challenge to communicate in a less wordy format and I like the immediacy of the feedback too. So for whatever reason(s) after almost 7 years, 773 posts, almost a half million page views, countless new friends, many of whom I still adore despite having never met in real life, I have decided to stop posting here.


While this could be considered goodbye, it's really just goodbye blogger. I have finally gotten The Painter's Farm website up and running and there just so happens to be a blog feature there, which I plan to take advantage of. I am not sure yet how that will evolve, but I do expect that the website will be a process, many new updates, photos, art talk and hopefully plenty of chit chat and silliness too.

So let's do links, 'cause I know we'll always be together (obscure movie reference!).

The Painter's Farm

Mostly farm talk (and cute animals!) at The Painter's Farm on facebook (I have been kinda quiet there lately, but will be picking it back up now that everything else is set)

Mostly art talk at Tracy Helgeson Art on facebook

Twitter ( I am not very good on twitter, but you can follow me if ya want. I put out a few gems here and there, but can't seem to keep up with the conversations very well, oops)

In closing, I would like to say that creating this blog has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. It gave me a voice, reminded me that I could actually write, and introduced me to many fascinating people at a time when I was so isolated on a farm after a cross country move to a new town. It was so wonderful to connect with other artists and receive their support and friendship at a time when I was trying to build my career.

And now after writing that, I really feel sad about ending this! But I know it is time to move on. I will leave this blog up for as long as blogger will have me (hopefully I will get around to documenting my posts before they kick me out!) as I think there is some value in this thing we did.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Clear&Opaque, 10"x8" Oil on Panel, 2012

In a true partnership of my current interests, I am currently spending my days painting in the studio AND tending to goats, chickens, kids and an expanded garden. The chores MUST be done each day but we also still need my income from painting, despite the fact that making art as a day job sounds completely ridiculous. And yes, the irony of voluntarily choosing two of the lowest paying professions has not escaped me either. heh.

Anyway, the farm thing is on track, well as much as something so unpredictable can be. And I am pleased to report that the art part is also picking up and while I hate to be TOO optimistic (at least not out loud and in print:)) I do have a feeling that there might be some shifts in the art world air. I had a very successful show at The Harrison Gallery in March marked by great feedback from the director and also by the fact that I didn't have to go back and pick up any unsold work, a good sign. They kept the few pieces left for their inventory and just shipped back a few of the smaller pieces that received NO interest. Always good to have some grounding, eh???

Last week I drove down to Piermont, NY to deliver about 15 pieces to a gallery/shop that has been interested in my work. This came about via a friend, which we all know is always the nicest and least stressful way for new galleries to come along! Piermont is a beautiful little town that is very close to NYC, in fact it is far, FAR closer to the city than I would normally prefer to drive myself, but I was trying to be a grown up about it all. The drive was actually without incident, although it was a bit crazy on the thruway just as I was getting to my exit. And even though the drive back was totally fine I did manage to give myself a really incredible tension headache and by the time I got home I thought my head was going to split open, took me a bit to recover from that. Turns out I might be too old and/or too delicate to drive 7-8 hours in one day.....

ANYWAY. The Outside In Piermont is wonderful. It is actually more of a shop than a straight up gallery, although they show some wonderful art and I am pleased to be included. I have to say that my work looked great in their environment! Their emphasis is on natural, handmade objects, garden art, etc. I also really appreciated the enthusiasm that the owners expressed about my paintings, my palette and especially about the still life/bottle themed paintings I have been working on lately. They really liked the two that I brought them (see above).

And while I don't have any more solo shows scheduled for the rest of this year, I do have several group shows coming up, in addition to quite a few events that will feature The Painter's Farm products, many of which feature small format paintings. I will be updating things soon, in between studio time and shoveling dirt......

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Very Own Escape Artist

I think I might have to change Kodiak's name to Houdini.

Despite working to dismantle the fence all winter, she has made some amazing progress on it in the last few days; she broke out on Monday and came down to the patio door to say hi to us. This event led to both Doug and I losing a good portion of our workday to fixing the situation. Doug went up to the garden, which is where Kodiak and JB (the wether) have been housed all winter. The garden fence is sort of patched together, it is a combination of very old rusty and bent wire fence, topped off with a plastic deer fence that we added to keep the deer out last summer. Then we determined that she tried extra hard to get out because despite the fact that I had given them plenty of hay that morning, there was NO hay in their feeder and since they were so obviously starving, Kodiak decided to go find food so clearly this was all my fault.

Anyway, while Doug patched together the fencing (again) I put Kodiak on a leash and walked around with her a bit. At one point she was in the house with me while I answered the phone. Then I decided to try out the milk stand that Doug built and check her hooves. I knew her front hooves needed some attention but I was shocked by how bad the back ones looked. After trying out quite a few different positions, most of which caused both of us some pain, I managed to do an ok job of getting them trimmed, despite being convinced that she also had foot rot (she doesn't; I was in a melodramatic mood). I probably have to work on the back ones a bit more but will wait to do that for another week, we both need a rest I think!

Doug and I both figured he had closed up all the soft spots in the fence but today, while I was out this afternoon for a few hours, Kodiak got out of the garden not just once but 4 times! Poor Doug! He had to catch her, get her back up to the garden, figure out where she got out, then try to fix the spot. Each time Kodiak escaped she went in a different direction; first down to the patio, another time she went to visit the bee hives, then it was off to the secret garden. Most notable however, was her visit to the chicken coop which is just off the patio. She went into their yard through the human door (it was open, the chickens were out having a party in my flower garden free ranging)

then went into the henhouse THROUGH THE CHICKEN DOOR.

You can't even make this up, people! The chicken door is 14" high by 10" wide and I know this because I went out and measured it when I got home and Doug told me the story.

I can't even imagine how she did it, but Doug got there just as the hens that had been inside were fleeing out squawking and flapping their wings and found her standing innocently inside the coop. I am almost sorry I missed that scene.......

We REALLY need to get the fence up around their new home now and move them to their new home. I have also decided that we are definitely adding a few hot lines there, I have been on the fence about that recently because I didn't think they could get out.

These goats are turning me into a cynic.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Painter's Farm LLC!

Well, The Painter's Farm is really coming along here. It is now an LLC, there are tax ID numbers, a shitload of paperwork going on and don't even talk to me about taxes, exemptions, deductions and agricultural licensing procedures, yikes! Besides all that busyness, spring is springing and there is a ton of stuff to do. The new goat barn arrived a few weeks ago. I was incredibly impressed with how smoothly the Amish fellows put it into place, they had a really cool shed delivery trailer thing, even I had to admire it!
We initially planned to put it further down into the pasture but decided it would be too difficult for this girly girl to get down there in the winter. So we put it closer to the road and just across the road from our house, next to the hen's retirement home:
Looking up towards the house:
The barn (well, technically it's a shed) is 12 x 18, kinda small but it's a good start for my goat herd:
The goats will have a GREAT view:
and in their front yard there is an old silo foundation with a tree next to it for them to decimate, which they will be VERY happy about. I suspect there will be a lot of 'King of the Hill' games here:
In the meantime we are slowly working on the fence and I do mean slowly. I spent several days measuring out the new pasture until my life was made infinitely better after I purchased a measuring thingy that you push along on the ground as you walk. Once I got that baby, I finished up all the post placements in one afternoon!! Then a guy (neighbor/farmer/handyman) came and put the posts in, he pushed them down into the grown with a front loader. It seemed strange but hey, it worked. Doug was out of town for all that fun, but since he returned he has been adding the posts that need to be set in concrete; corner posts and gate posts. Oh and a few of them needed new holes which he is hand digging in between his day job and sleep. Also, he has to work around an old barn foundation that seems to be located just a few inches down everywhere that we want to put in a post. Anyway, I think we he will be working on attaching the wire fence this week, the neighbor/farmer/handyman guy is going to help with that, while I supervise. heh. But this is where we are today:
Oh and I have to get back into the studio to start some new work this week. Can you believe that a gallery contacted me that is actually interested in both my paintings AND The Painter's Farm honey/soap products????? What are the odds of that???? Will update on that when things get official.... PS. Gratuitous cute photo of Stevienicks who managed to get caught with a bucket around her middle and then me saving her while everyone else "helped" me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Drowning in a Sea of Cuteness

Turns out the best way for me to avoid post show meltdowns, is to pick up 3 unbearably cute baby goats on the morning after the opening reception.

But let me back up here. A few years ago I met Brent, one half of The Fabulous Beekman Boys and he said that when I was ready to take the plunge and raise goats, I could buy a few from them in the spring when their goats have their babies (they don't keep all the kids, many go to auction and some are sold to various people in the area). It took me awhile to get it together but last fall when I impulsively decided to get 2 goats from another friend of mine, I knew that I would also have to get a few from the Beekman farm too, just to round things out.

So I have been in contact with John, who is the actual goat guy and he let me know that he would have kids that would be ready to go at the beginning of March. Doug and I went out to the farm to meet John and see the goats. We also met Polka Spot, the diva llama. She had been outside but came in when she heard us, the crowd of goats parted like the Red Sea when she breezed into the barn, and I am not even joking! She seemed to like me; she didn't spit or hiss at me and even let me rub her neck. She definitely had an attitude though. Anyway, a few weeks later, after there were even more kids to choose from, my daughter Ginger and I went back out to the farm. I had decided to get 2 doelings. We each picked one (VERY difficult, have I said how freaking cute baby goats are????) and I arranged to pick them up on the weekend that my show would be opening.

Barn Study#527, 4"x4" Oil on Panel, 2012

The gallery opening was wonderful and Doug and I really enjoyed ourselves. The small format paintings proved to be a good choice for this show; quite a few had already sold by the time we arrived and those who attended the opening seemed to enjoy putting together small groupings of them. Several collectors were also there and it was really nice to talk with them. It was a good night!

Bottle Study#532, 7"x5" Oil on Panel, 2012

After doing the chores bright and early the next morning, I went on out to the Beekman farm (it's about 40 minutes away) to pick up the goats. While I was there I impulsively decided to get a buckling (who would eventually be castrated) as a companion to JB when I separate the pregnant girls from the boys next winter. Thinking ahead in the face of all that goat-y cuteness is tough but I managed! And that's how we got Jonbonjovi:

I named them (from left) Stevienicks, Jonbonjovi and Gildaradner. MY kids don't appreciate my concept here with the names but I think it's funny and strangely enough the names fit their personalities.

The last week has passed in a busy, but pleasant blur of goat feedings, watching them play, soapmaking, cleaning the house, and worrying about the nighttime temps. Doug built a wood house and and small pen for the goats inside our garage, which is just basically a tin building and everything inside of it freezes in the winter. Although we have had a very mild winter, the first few nights that we had the kids it got down to about 8 degrees. But they managed just fine with their heat lamp, a few blankets draped over the house and some extra hay bedding, so I forced myself to leave them be after a few nights of checking on them at 2am. We did bring them inside for their feedings though for the first week or so, mostly because WE didn't want to sit in the freezing cold to feed them; they LOVE being in the house! Luckily, Mr. Wilson is turning out to be a good herd dog, he keeps everyone moving when they come in and out. He also pays close attention to feeding time. We may have to change his name to "Sheriff". You can see him here doing his circus trick; we did NOT teach him that btw.

Now that it is MUCH warmer, we have been feeding them through the fence of their pen in the garage. Gildaradner prefers to sit in someone's lap while having her bottle, but turns out she is not really married to that quirk when she is really hungry, heh.

Yesterday I took Gildaradner and Stevienicks to the vet to get their horn buds removed. Jonbonjovi is a polled goat, which means he won't get horns. He stayed home and cried all day. Literally. Most goat farmers do the disbudding themselves (good blog post here about the procedure) and I am fairly certain that I won't be able to manage to do this although I am not saying never, I guess. Never thought I would raising goats either and here we are. Anyway, the vets use anesthesia so the goats were just fine when I picked them up, however I wish I had googled some images beforehand. I admit to being fairly freaked out when I first saw their little heads! And forget about the rest of the family; Ginger and Doug flat out refused to help me feed them because they can't look at their heads, so I have figured out how to bottlefeed all three myself. Already they are looking better today and anyway, they are both still the same silly and adorable goats so I barely even notice it now. Scroll past quickly if you have delicate sensibilities, but this is how they look today, which is far better than yesterday:

All this has kept far too busy to have any sort of meltdown concerning art, and the break from painting has been lovely, but I do have to get back to the studio soon. Provided I can tear myself away from all this cuteness!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Goat "Issues" And Show Deadlines

So less than 24 hours after I mentioned here that my dairy goat Kodiak was hopefully with child, I found her with stuff coming out of her bottom. The placenta, to be precise, and a variety of other things came out of her for several days after, which was pretty freaky and kind of fascinating too. I knew when I decided to have goats that I would be seeing some amazing things, but somehow I didn't think 'goat fetus' would be one of them, at least not so soon! Anyway, it was a week of sadness, mixed with gladness that Kodiak was ok and actually seemed to be feeling much better and perkier than she had before this happened. It was suggested that I give her antibiotics to prevent her from developing an infection, but I decided to load her up with Colloidal Silver and Vitamin C. We rarely take antibiotics and even though I didn't totally rule out the option for Kodiak, I wanted to try the natural remedies first. I have been watching her closely and have not seen one single sign of infection, stuff has stopped coming out of her and she is doing great. She and JB jump around and frolic a lot, which is hilarious! As far as the cause of the miscarriage goes, I stressed for awhile that I might be a bad goat momma, but after doing a lot of reading and talking with my goat gurus, I felt better. None of the usual reasons for goats miscarrying seemed to apply here and we all decided it was probably just not a viable pregnancy. So I think I can go on with the goatkeeping.....

I WAS planning to start making soap with the goat milk, however, and so I have had to change my plans there. And actually I was only able to ponder any of that for about a day, because all of a sudden my solo show deadline was upon me and I had to switch into high gear in the studio. I managed to do over 90 small paintings (90 are in the show; a few didn't make the cut;)) for the show. I would have liked to have been closer to my goal of 130 but, well, there WAS a miscarriage here. Yes, I am not above using my goat's miscarriage as an excuse. heh. Anyway, I also did three new larger paintings and then there was the documenting, and photographing and editing of all those paintings, oy!

Anyway, everything is done now and instead of delivering the work to the gallery today as planned, I have to do it tomorrow as we are in the midst of our one and only snowstorm of the season. Naturally.

Please visit the gallery's website for a show preview and Doug and I will be attending the opening reception on Saturday. Come by if you are in the area!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wait, Wait, I'm Still Here!!!

Barn Study #500, 4"x4" Oil on Panel, 2012

Well, as you can see I have made a few changes around here! About time, I guess, right? I started this blog in February 2006 and wrote pretty regularly here until about a year ago when I began feeling quite burnt out writing about myself so much and not feeling like I had anything to say about anything else. Hard to imagine THAT if you know me and even I find it hard to believe, but it's true! I felt like I had told all my good stories and wasn't sure where to go next with things so I just kind of drifted away from blogkeeping without making any sort of official decision one way or the other.

Then late last fall a few things happened which gave me some new energy and some ideas about what to do here. I got two goats that led to a new business of sorts and so I decided that I still have stuff to say that is just a bit too wordy for facebook and twitter. So here I still am........

BUT. I am in the last week of a big deadline for a solo show, and don't have time to go into all the details so this post will just have to be a teaser for now. However, since there will still be plenty of shameless promotion here I will briefly discuss the show. This is my 6th solo show at The Harrison Gallery and we decided that it would be fun to do something a bit different this time. I suggested showing my small format studies, the ones that I take to the local harvest festivals etc and just lay out flat on a tabletop. The director loved the idea, so I have been a busy bee, trying to meet my goal of 130 paintings (don't get too excited; they are very quick to paint, 5"x7" and smaller) which will be displayed on a table in the middle of the gallery, and I am also working on a few larger scaled pieces for the walls. Pretty sure I won't quite get to 130, but it will be close and I am good with that! The gallery reception will be on Saturday, March 3, 5-7pm and Doug and I will both be there, so please come by and say hi if you are in the area. Otherwise ALL the images will be on the the gallery's website and I apologize in advance to whoever has to load them onto the site, sorry!

So that's it for now, I must get back to work and start the last batch of underpaintings and then it's going to be painting all week, then endless documenting and editing probably until the very minute I have to leave to deliver the work to the gallery, yikes!

I leave you with an image of JB, younger (and newly castrated) companion to Kodiak, our dairy goat who is (hopefully) with child. Yep, got a lot of things going on around here......