Monday, May 17, 2010

Gardening, and the Birds and the Bees

Very busy last few days here and I don't think it will be letting up anytime soon.

I have been rather derelict in getting the garden cleared out for spring planting, although THAT would be easier if we did better at cleaning and prepping the planting beds in the fall. Sigh. One of these days, it will happen. Anyway, I have been trying to spend a few hours a day weeding and luckily everything but the dumb, stupid burdock has been easy to pull out. However, all of a sudden wild mustard plants have taken over the garden, which is irritating because that is the one weed we haven't had before and they are seriously invasive. They do have beautiful yellow flowers though and fields of them have inspired a whole series of paintings but I would like them to stay out of my vegetable garden, please.

Three beds back in the corner that still need weeding (they are done now):

This is where the tomatoes are going this year and I have handed the weeding duty over to Doug as I suspect some serious shoveling will be necessary (he is the shovel guy):

And proof that our weeds don't need much in the way of light, air or water. A tarp has been on this section for a few years now (clearing that spot is rather low on our list as it is in a shaded area) and every year the weeds under it raise it up off the ground about three feet:

But there are some bright spots. The garlic is looking good:

The raspberries look great this year (even if they are sending shoots off into the neighboring beds). And most of the beds are cleared now, ready for some mulch and then planting:

We are still a few weeks from planting for most things though, and I really should have gotten the peas and carrots in already, but I am planning to get them in this week. Oddly, my greens that I planted several weeks ago in the cold frame didn't come up, so I guess I messed up the system somehow. I am going to try planting greens again in the regular beds. Oh and the perimeter fence needs much attention. I am pretty sure that last year deer were just strolling in every night and eating everything from the top down. They LOVE peas and broccoli, just so you know.

Update on the birds and the bees:

Yes, my new chicks have arrived, just this morning in fact:

We are establishing a new coop for them as our old hen house is too small and plus it's really tough to integrate flocks. So Doug spent a few days putting up plywood on the interior of a small room in our crappy old garage. We wanted to build an entirely new building, but it wasn't in the budget and this was the next best, cheap idea. And actually it seems pretty luxurious to me, it has power and is very close to water (the garage is attached to the kitchen) so we can brood them in their coop. Doug still has to build the nests and an outdoor chicken run, but we have time for that.

It's been about four years since we got our first chicks and three years since we got the second batch and I have forgotten about the stress level with these little chickies. I have already spent so much time worrying and checking on them today and it's only been a few hours! One difference this time though is that there are 45 chicks, well actually 44 since one was trampled to death in the shipping box, and the little cannibals were already pecking it apart by the time I picked them up, and so I now get to worried about their pig pile tendencies too. Heh. But I am going to cross my fingers that they will be ok, and later on after I get some work done I will go and check all of them for pasty butt*, yay!

Doug was planning to get two more bee hives this spring but when he went to pick them up on Saturday, he was told the bees were gone. A part of the whole disappearing bee problem evidently. So Doug is calling around today, trying to find someone who has bees. Our existing hive is doing great, very busy and active bees already working on their honey, so we were really hoping to add to all that.

And besides our WORK work, there is a long list of things that have to be done around here; I was going to list them, but it makes me feel overwhelmed! I will post photos if as we make some progress. Right now I will just be happy if we can get some plants in the ground and keep my chicks alive until they are a bit more durable!

*Pasty Butt: Shipping can be hard on some chicks and a sign of that stress is that they get their butts pasted up with loose droppings. Keep a close eye on them for the first 5-6 days. If this happens, you must clean it up or they'll die. There are 2 methods: A -- you can softly moisten the plug with a warm moist cloth until you can pick it off, this being easier on the chick, or B -- you can simply pluck it off with the down it is stuck to. This is more painful to the chick, like having some hairs pulled, but has the advantage that without the down to stick to the problem will not repeat itself.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Painterchick/Chickenfarmer Girl

South Side, 2010, Oil on Panel, 24"x18"

Good thing I have gotten some of my energy back, because there is a lot going on. Actually that probably is WHY I am getting it back, I HAVE to. Anyway, I am feeling enthusiastic again about working in the studio and just finished a really good group of paintings (see above). I am planning to focus on the 'People You Know' now, as I currently have plenty of landscapes in my inventory.

And life in general is particularly crazy right now. Both of my daughters have crazy busy sports schedules, one daughter is in softball with practice everyday and my youngest daughter is playing both softball AND soccer AND is also taking a Junior Lifeguarding class. And I am tired just writing this. Heh. Anyway, mostly this translates to A LOT of driving and scheduling and watching games for me. Plus we are getting into all the end of the year stuff; school concerts, dances, etc. Ok, nap time now......

Life on the farm is picking up too. The weather has been kind of wacky, and it has been really cold for the last several days which has been the perfect excuse to delay more work out in the vegetable garden. But there is MUCH to do out there and it is looming over us. I have been puttering around in the flower gardens but don't even ask me why there are a million dandelions IN the back flower garden. I need to get to that pretty soon. And this weekend we will be getting new 45 new chicks. I have decided to fully embrace being a painterchick/chickenfarmer girl and will be selling organic eggs, hopefully enough to at least pay for the organic feed. Our current flock of chickens are getting older and although they are still laying, they are slowing down so it's a good time to start a new flock. However, I am not exactly the culling chicken type, so we have decided to establish a second hen house. We have a 10x12 room in our garage that has its own door out to the yard and so Doug has been working on getting that room ready. It also has electricity which is VERY exciting, the other hen house is all pioneer with no power or water even remotely nearby. Chick pictures coming soon.

So I guess spring is a good time to get a girl out of a mild funk, eh?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Regional Shows and Often Procrastination is Good

The Weight of Being, 2010, Oil on Panel, 20"x24"

So Chair Lady was accepted into the regional show at the Cooperstown Art Association and Doug and I went to the opening reception last night. We didn't stay too long because we had to get to our daughter's softball game but we had a nice time, talked to some friends and munched at the food table. Actually, I had exactly two things and they were both so spicy that I had a runny nose the rest of the evening. Awesome!

The work in the show was good but it became clear as we saw which artists won the prizes that I probably should have entered a landscape. Well, if I was intent on winning something. Heh. I do like to win, who doesn't? But I am still glad that I pushed the envelope a bit and entered something different. And a number of people mentioned that even though mine was a figurative painting, they still immediately recognized it as my work.

But the best part of yesterday (well besides watching my daughter play really well in her very first softball game!) was getting two large Black Paintings done. I spent most of Thursday SO not sure about what I was going to do with them, but finally that night I managed to eke out a few sketches of compositions that seemed like they might work. I still needed some time to settle in (procrastinate) on Friday morning but at about 1:30pm I stepped up to the easel and just whipped out the two paintings, it's like they just flowed right out of me. Love when that happens, that feeling is one of the things that makes being a painter chick so great.

Sure don't need a prize for that!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Winging it

Black Painting#92, 2010, Oil on Panel, 9"x6"

Today I am prepping two 36 inch square panels. I have decided to enter two Black Paintings in the upcoming National Juried Show at the Cooperstown Arts Association, that I mentioned last time. I spent way too much time yesterday obsessing about the size, format and image but finally I decided to just go ahead and settle on the two 36 inch square panels that I already have on hand. I have a few other large panels, but only one of each size and well, I keep thinking that I should enter two that are the same. I need SOME order here! Especially since I have NO CLUE as to what I will be painting on these panels! I tried making some sketches yesterday which only proved to me that the large, looming barn like structures that I keep seeing in my mind, will not work very well in a square format.

However, I am recalling that when I worked on the Black Paintings series in Vermont, I was not sure what the image would be until my hands were in the paint and maybe even well after that. So I am going to wing it here on these pieces, fully aware that I may end up entering a landscape after all. I have to finish the painting part by this Friday, so I can get them photographed and meet the deadline which is next Saturday.

We'll just have to see how that pressure thing works for me this time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chair Lady

Chair Lady, 2010, Oil on Panel, 40"x30"

Well, the people have spoken and so the Chair Lady has been entered into the juried show. Thanks so much to everyone who gave me their input, I really appreciate it. I was leaning towards entering the Chair Lady too but I became a bit mesmerized by all the color in the other painting once I tweaked it a little bit. I am a sucker for color, heh. Also I hadn't really planned to title it "Chair Lady" but it stuck after all that. Above is the final jpeg of the painting.

I should find out in a few days about whether I am in or not and either way I will attend the opening reception for the show this Friday. Always a good chance to chat with some friends and also to catch up with a few of the artists in in the area that I only see once in awhile.

And in case anyone is interested, this same organization also has a national juried show and the deadline is coming up on May 15. More info here if you are interested in participating. The Cooperstown Art Association is a GREAT local arts organization, very supportive of artists (they gave me a solo show when I was just starting out) and they do a number of community art events each year. And I can assure you that locals do not get special treatment here, I have been accepted only once out of about seven tries. I actually wasn't sure if I even should enter this year because one of the jurors is the owner of a gallery that represents me. However, I am going to anyway as I feel supporting the CAA (as well as all local arts organizations) is important and will just consider the 20 bucks as a donation. I will also enter different work than what I usually show with that gallery so that when I get turned down I can justify it by saying that it was because I hadn't entered my real work. ha