2010 August Archive | Amber Jean

Skip to Content

Monthly Archives: August 2010

Woodchips and Sawdust

Back in the studio making a mess with power tools and chisels has me feeling more like myself than I have felt in a good long while. I can hardly stand to take a day off since “work” entices. My paws are sore (out of shape) but it is SUCH a good feeling!!!

I guess the sawdust will get to settle a bit since early in the morning I have a plane to catch. Texas is my destination.  My "studio" for the next few days will be in the warehouse next to the chicken yard at Chaco Ranch.  I have a commission to complete. 

Sweet Little Bits

Seasons in my world are usually punctuated with vivid challenging adventures: peaks, rivers, single track mountain bike trails, cliffs, slopes and frozen waterfalls. The past few seasons have been a bit of a blur without the periodic adventure punctuation points. Orange and red flashes in the foliage hint of autumn while crisp cool nights carry whispers of a new season.  

Fall is my favorite season. 
Actually every season is my favorite…which means I that I don’t actually have a favorite – but each season feels like a favorite when it is happening. Nostalgically, each season feels more like a favorite when the season is coming to a close. I am not sure what happened to summer…or spring…or last winter. Outdoor adventures were sparse since I have been healing from major surgery, wrapped up in family life, and blessedly back in the studio. Balance is allusive. Survival has been the mantra.
I can hardly call my father’s illness and death this spring a “punctuation point.” I can’t even wrap it up as a “chapter” or “saga.” Most days I hardly believe that Dad isn’t actually here…alive…with my mother in their house surrounded by a perfectly pruned yard animated with happy wild bunnies playing on the lush lawn or munching snacks on the deck. The lawn is no longer green since Mom and I cannot begin to manage Dad’s diligent sprinkler and lawn care vigil. Rabbits still play on the less-than-green lawn and eat at the flower-shaped bunny feeder. The riding lawn mower with the cigarette lighter Dad custom installed on the dash sits in the garage. Dusty.
Earlier this week I managed to squeeze a sweet little punctuation point with the kids into my summer.  Just two days before school started, we went for a late evening mountain bike ride followed by a full moon picnic at Hyalite Lake. Jolly from our ride, feeling the magic of the moon, satiated by yogurt, fresh fruit, and Grapenuts, we began a game of charades. Our actions danced in the moonlight accented by long shadows cast by the BIG round full moon. The lake sparkled and our laughter bounced off the mountain peaks which poked a sky filled with stars.  

Pick of the Week

My family had a poodle named “Fifi” when I was a tot. I don’t remember her being as glamorous as this little lady. 

Last week was my first official "Pick of the Week."  "Sage" sold in about 20 minutes when I announced the original artwork on Facebook.  A few days later, some disturbing news arrived about my friend Walkin’ Jim Stoltz. How is it that one of the healthiest, kindest, most gentle of souls could be struggling with a nasty medical challenge? He has a place on his site for donations to help with the medical expenses and there it went – the moola from the first “Pick of the Week.”  "Fifi" is half price.  Her sale will support one charitable cause or another.  Check out Jim’s site if you’ve a moment and a hankering to meet one of the extra special people who grace this planet (Jim is quite extrodinary)

Bunny Abundance

Bunnies are in abundance this year. I love bunny years! Momma Nature seems to have her cycles..sometimes moths, moose, or mice (um…ok…always mice) but this year bunnies are everywhere – morning, noon, and night.

Alas, the bunny surplus has led to tragedy. Maya (my cat) is an excellent mouser. She is a super handy housekeeper for cabin-love’n mice but unfortunately her skills don’t stop there. Lately she has been grounded for the most part which means that she is IN MY FACE a good deal at night. Her protest tactics are highly developed and range from subtle (sitting within whisker tickling range of my nose while staring at me) to less than subtle (jumping on me in the middle of the night, howling, scowling, mewing and flinging herself about). Ugh.   Sadly, Miss Maya has successfully snuck out (I forgot to lock the screen door) or slunk out (I left the bathroom window open a crack while showering) or ran out (she ambushes me and scoots past while entering and exiting my house) which means that more than one bunny has gone to bunny heaven prematurely. Serious bummer…BIG bummer. Actually it is nightmarish to find a baby bunny ear on the bathroom floor. She brings the unfortunate furry little sweet rabbits inside my cabin to play with.   Thus – bunny saving missions punctuate my life when sly Maya slinks past the fact that she is grounded. More than one bunny has ended up tucked into my underwear drawer and even cuddled, protected, and slept with (I just love a bunny under the covers). Alas, only one has successfully been nursed, made it through rehab and been returned to the great outdoors. The cute tiny little bugger grew an inch during the few days of loving captivity. 

After the sweet little thing was stable, I took him over the mountain pass to my mother’s to finish his rehab and begin a new life in Mom’s “big rock candy mountain” backyard. Mom has abundant scrumptious grass…less predators…AND…she has a bunny feeder on her deck with “regulars” who stop by daily.
I LOVE rabbits…have some kind of soulful connection to them beyond my own big rabbit-like front teeth. They appear in my art, in self portraits (you have seen my logo?!) and as companions (pets Chanda, Baji, and Frida). I would very much prefer a rabbit over a cat for a pet. While Maya is an awesome mouse-catching, people-love’n, purring little athlete with an adorable under bite- she would be replaced with a dozen mousetraps and a pet bunny if it weren’t for my rabbit-chasing dog Zaydee.
Ugh. Zaydee is sweet, special, smart, soft, kind, and a good dog except she chases and catches rabbits.  She is…well…a dog (and fast).
(both NEW bunny artworks were SOLD last week to a patron member before they were ever posted for sale on my website)

Julia Martin

Inspired by the movie "Eat, Pray, Love" Julian Martin, a deep-souled, sparkly-eyed prolific artist from Nashville, TN decided to "hit the road."  She contacted her galleries (Nashville, Santa Fe, etc.) to announce a sudden sale –40% off – all her artworks, raised $10,000 in two weeks, had a buddy build a custom painting rack in the back of her Jeep Liberty, packed a tent and art supplies and TOOK OFF!

After a month of adventures, her GPS and gumption brought her here last night to my little cabin at the end of the road near the top of a mountain in Montana.  We drank wine while sitting next to a campfire on my deck under the stars and swapped stories.  We had never met before but my dear friend Wynn introduced me to images of Julia’s delicate, bold and beautiful paintings more than a year ago.

I’m tickled and honored to have her up here on the mountain.  She slept "like a baby" in Granny’s cabin last night.  While drinking my tea outside this morning, Julia and "Miss Liberty" showed up.  She stomped across my deck wearing short shorts, a flowing white blouse, red cowboy boots, and a grin.

We’re both off to make art…

"Communion" (the painting above) can be seen along with other paintings on her website http://julia-martin.com

“Pick of the Week”

I have been enamored with colts who spring about this time of year under the watchful eyes of their mothers’. “Sage” seems like a mother to me…a calm, quiet, dark-eyed beauty. She is the second “Pick of the Week”…a new fun thingee on my website where I offer original art for half price with the money going to charity. “Sage” is viewable on the website until she sells…

Studio Chicks (part one)

Have I mentioned the powerful, creative, fun, funny, women with whom I currently share a large studio space? After a few decades of blissful hermitude + sweet solitary studio space – life has plopped me right down into the middle of a spacious building in Bozeman with two inspiring chicks. 

Kirsten Kainz is a talented welder who turns her passion for critters and eclectic found metal objects into wonderful, whimsical, grand sculptures. Her humor, keen eye, and boldness shine through the animal sculptures she creates with wit, grit and a grin.
I have a huge crush on “Lewis“… the big three-wheeled rabbit who has hung out at the studio since spring while an awesome toad, a well-hung bull, a rooster, a wolf, a snail and lotsa crazy bugs have taken form under the creative talent of a gal who uses a Harley jacket as part of her welding “get up.” A solo show of her sculptures opens tomorrow night at Visions West Gallery in Bozeman. 
Stacey Herries, my other studio-mate will be featured in "Studio Chicks – part two"  
Meanwhile, check out this rabbit…!

Fun Friday

Took last Friday off…(my first day off in weeks).  I haven’t seen the monkeys enough lately so it was a joy to spend the day with ’em. We visited the very first Dude ranch in Montana (the historic OTO ranch).  Then we took the young’uns and their new friends rock climbing in Yankee Jim Canyon before jumping into the Yellowstone River near Tom Miner Basin for a late afternoon swim in the cool (cold) water. Zaydee out-swam all of us.  
The sweltering heat and humidity of Texas was quite a contrast to the cool cozy nights here at my own home-a little cabin at the end of the road near the top of a mountain in Montana. 

Texas Studio Sounds

Listening to the roosters’ crow, the hens cackle and the ducks quack – all that "carrying on" is my favorite part of working at the “studio” on the Texas ranch (well…that AND the air conditioning!)