2011 January Archive | Amber Jean

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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Monday morning – humming, sipping, and sniffing

Monday morning:  Temps are below zero and dropping.  The landscape is soft and pale as crystals hang and wait their turn to cling in a delicate doily-way to trees, grass, mailboxes and eyelashes.  The kids are off to school and a week with their mother.  Last week was full of basketball games, after-school practices, and homework.  Ali’s 6th grade girl’s basketball team had a tournament at Gallatin Gateway Friday night.  They lost their 2nd game by only ONE point when a foul against a teammate in the last 6 seconds brought the chance to get two free-throws and possibly tie the game, (which would have put them into overtime and a chance to win).  Alas, the poor little nervous gal made one out of two baskets and they lost the game.  She broke out in tears but got hug after hug from her teammates.  I am impressed at the heart and gumption these young gals show.  Ali is a pint-size force to be reckoned with.  

Saturday night we had a pajama party with Mom. Sami baked two different batches of cookies, Paul made popcorn in a pot on the stove and we watched “The Sound of Music”  cuddled under blankets on the couches.  I thought I had seen the movie enough times in my life that I wasn’t particularly keen on our choice of entertainment but the kids are gearing up and doing tryouts for the musical at school.  BUT I got goose bumps in the first few moments and several times throughout.  We thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I have been singing ever since (though nothing like Julie or the girls for that matter!).  Julie Andrews is such a bright sparkle isn’t she?  Speaking of sparkle – Mom wore black lounge pants with rhinestones to qualify for the pj party dress code.  Jake lasted half-way through the movie but got squirmish and went to bed early announcing that he wanted to be rested up for our big ski day at Bridger Bowl.   

Skiing with these three munchkins is SO much fun!!!  Jake rips it up!  Sami and Ali explore the mountain and pick runs with confidence.  We laughed and whooped our way down slopes, ate a picnic lunch and sipped hot chocolate.  The temps neared zero.  I was more-than-a wee-bit-thankful that we took several breaks in the upper lodge to warm up since I was so sore from Crossfit the day before.  Getting back into shape after a year of healing leaves me with plenty of sore muscles but it is more fun to be sore from playing and working out than from major surgery!  Humming "Sound of Music" tunes, smelling my favorite Volupsa "Baltic Amber" candle, and drinking tea on this happy Monday morning – the eve of a new month in a year that has launched as especially promising and full of rich blessings.



Windows and Pipes

Paul took this picture Thursday.  I haven’t been on site since Monday morning (this is a Bozeman week with the munchkins).  I can hardly wait to stand inside and look out a window.  Just opening a door will make all of this seem more real.  Plumbing is going in.  I hear I have a shower stall.  Duel flush toilet from Costco (great price!) will go in soon.   We haven’t set up a cistern for water yet.  Keep your fingers crossed that we find water the next time we drill!  Itch’n to move in!


Pick of the Week

Each week – one original artwork is offered at half price with all of the money going to charity.  "Rizzo" looks to me like a bit of an insomnia sufferer like myself or maybe he has simply had too much coffee.  "Rizzo" is the pick and Tibetan Doctors are the recipent.  My friend Mike Cooperstien is actively and soulfully involved.  Just follow this link to learn more:

Please Help Tibetan Doctors

Click here to purchase "Rizzo"

New York Debut of the Frog Bronze!

New York!  New York!  (the place so nice they named it twice!)  The frog bronze titled “Spring” is in route to the BIG APPLE for the N.A.W.A Open Small Works Exhibition.  Here’s how it happened:

I made a pact with myself to enter one juried show each month this year.  I have only entered 2-3 juried shows in my life and the last one was the Western Design Conference in Cody, Wyoming – well over a decade ago.  So I started by entering a show in December just to begin to get myself into the habit.  Voila!  My sculpture was accepted!!!  I have been told that over 650 artists entered and only 65 were accepted.  "Spring" is one of five sculptures selected for the show.  The exhibit is at the National Association for Women Artists – which is the oldest professional women’s fine art organization in the United States (founded in 1889).   So here are the exhibit details:

Exhibition Date:    February 2-22

Place:                The N.A.W.A Gallery  80 Fifth Avenue Suite 1405, New York, NY

Reception:           February 9, 2011  5-7 pm

If you make it to the show or the reception call or write to me – I want to hear ALL about it!  I haven’t the moola for a jaunt to New York but I am tickled pink that this little bugger has a debut in the big city.

Devil Woman Saloon – peek at the sculptures

  Finally a few picture peeks of the finished sculptures at the Devil Woman Saloon for you to see.  I will be frank.  Once we stuffed these buggers into their allotted corners, they simply “died” in the dark.  The post-placement moment was seriously and painfully anti-climatic and a far cry from the expected “TA DA!!!”

Yes my client was there.  Brenda seemed happy and excited but then she is a super nice person (that’s an understatement) and could very well have been just being kind.  I grabbed her teeny tiny long haired teacup chiwawa Cami and bolted to the ranch warehouse in search of some lights.  With Cami tucked in the crook of my arm, I loaded up with clamp lights and extension cords, crossed the ranch to the Saloon and attempted to “show” the sculptures with a bit of hard harsh light illumination.

Better.  At least Brenda could get a bit of an idea but the sculptures were far from “finished” and not worth applauding.  The delivery day was a confusing gamut of emotions.  Honestly I felt as if I had crossed valleys, climbed peaks, thrashed my way through thick jungles, inhaled buckets of sawdust and sat my tuckered scratched and famished body down eagerly to a deliciously prepared full five course dinner at a table set with white linen and one of those silver shiny cover thingees over my plate lifted with a polished flair by a decked-out butler and there…. Before my ravenous eyes and centered on my fine china plate….lay… (drum roll please) …a little smelly dog poo.

Ok.  The sculptures are a far cry from dog poo.  They might even be GRAND without upstaging their surroundings as planned but first they must be lit properly.  The excessive emotions could simply be chalked up to: a) being a passionate artist b) being an emotional girl c) hormones d) the culmination of expectation after a rather challenging journey.  I am guessing all of the above played into an unsettled feeling that left me cranky (poor Paul) and far from satisfied.  We sat down in the saloon and shared a few shots in “celebration” but that was a bit like planting a flag before reaching the summit: anti-climatic.  The next day Paul and I scampered to the nearest city in search of lights.  We scoured lighting shops, landscape warehouses, Lowe’s and Home Depot in the hopes we would not have to return to the Devil Woman Saloon empty-handed but the specialized lighting we need is not something places keep in stock.  We had to order the lights.  I spent another day putting the final parts and pieces together (whip, crystals, trident, etc.)  We screwed a few little $8.00 desk lights on top of the sculptures so I wouldn’t have to leave Texas with them totally in the dark.  I felt better and we snapped a few photos. 

The “Devil Woman Saloon” sculptures have been tangled up in a long road of unexpected twists and turns.  We launched the project nearly 18 months ago believing I could whip these buggers out in a few months time but I blew the deadline by one year(a first for me)  But then last year was full of challenging “firsts” and unexpected painful endings.   I have taken more-than-one deep breath, calmed down, accepted the lighting delay and returned to Montana.  The “Devil Woman Sculptures” are in place.  The proper lighting and professional photos will happen next month.  Thank goodness Brenda has such a big heart and faith in me. 

Visit my YouTube channel for project videos

Up before the chickens

COCK A DOODLE DOO!!!  The roosters clucked a cheery loud hello this morning in the moonlight when I walked to the ranch office with a cup of tea and my computer.  Yesterday they just clucked a bit and helped guide my way through the pre-dawn fog in the wet heavy darkness.  I guess the chickens appreciate moonlight and moon shadows too since they up earlier and cheerier today.  I love the moderate temperature, the dank earthy smells, and the clucking and carrying on.  Right now a covey of ducks are swimming in a big puddle right outside the office door and from the sounds of it – they are having quite the gossip session!

Ranch sounds and smells put a grin on my face and a bit of a song in my heart – a different song than home, where everything around my cabin is wild.  Nothing is cultivated (another song and reason to grin).  I didn’t grow up on a ranch or a farm but as a young child I always felt a bit of romantic longing for the lifestyle.

I like being up before anyone else.  Quiet time.  Meditation time.  Yoga and a cup of tea time.  But I must admit having barnyard feathered friends clucking and quacking away hypes up the expectation of sunrise like musicians tuning their instruments builds the pre-performance energy.  The silly little critters seem to be hell-bent on waking up a sleepy headed, blurry-eyed sun – just their clattery insistence oddly enough elicits a rather domesticated feeling of family.

So I settled in to sip tea and write when my phone rang.  Paul had just woken up, turned on the TV (something we don’t have at my home) when he noticed a show called, “Woodsculpting.”  He thought it might be of interest to me so while he waited for his coffee he settled in to watch the show and there I was!   The show was about me – a whole show – at 6 a.m. in Texas.  So I crossed the ranch yard again, roosters crowing, ducks quacking, Hobo the German Sheppard barking and a cup of tea in my hand to watch the show.  Filmed years ago for DIYI have never actually watched the episode on TV – let alone a gigantic BIG plasma screen TV in a saloon where I had just installed a few big sculptures.

Oh yeah!  THAT!!!  The sculpture installation…!!  Yesterday was a big day.  Heavy mesquite logs-turned-into-sculptures were unloaded outside and set up inside the Devil Woman Saloon.  We used a John Deer tractor and broke a Genie Lift but luckily no injuries to people or the art occurred.  You’ll have to wait for the final pictures since today I will be putting the finishing touches on the sculptures (trident, Swarovski crystals, whip and lights):


Eleven Photos in Billings Gazette Feature


I love the fact that Zaydee made it into the feature article written by Donna Healy of the Billings Gazette!  Many of you knew Shiva, the special dog who shared a precious chunk of my life with me.  Shiva used to always upstage me whenever photographers showed up.  A natural model and total ham for the camera, Shiva would glean the lime-light whenever it so much as glanced my direction – just look at the past articles and TV spots on my Artist Page. Zaydee is a whole other cookie.  Horribly abused before being rescued by a sweet Montana couple, Zaydee showed up in my life as a bit of a basket case.  She’s come a LONG way!!  No longer scared of her own shadow – much less the power tools in my studio – she relaxes and hangs out with me while I work.  She barks to let me know if someone is around (usually I have ear plugs in and am oblivious).  Zaydee has warmed up to the camera – or at least relaxed enough that Bob Zellar from the Billings Gazette captured this photo of her napping in the mesquite sawdust.  The whole article along with a short video can be viewed on the Billings Gazette website (yes – Zaydee is in the video too!!!) 


Two Little Artworks for a good cause

I am going to drop off two Works on Paper at Printing for Less for a fundraiser.  The e-mail from a friend of mine explained:

“There’s a fundraiser at my work place for a coworker’s wife (Carrie Kling) who has been sick for years. She has reflex sympathetic dystrophy.  It is a disease of the central nervous system that causes intense pain. She needs to get another treatment in Tampa, FL which their insurance doesn’t cover and they have tapped out the financial resources from family, friends and personal savings for the first two treatments that she received.”

My sweet little town has a number of frame shops – all of which generously often donate framing of the piece.  The believe the most one of my Works on Paper has raised in a fundraiser auction is $300.00 – that was for a museum if I remember right – not a lot but little bits add up.  Always happy to help, the tables were turned last year after my own surgery.  Paul Meyer from Vern’s Wood Goods approached me with the idea of a fundraiser – for me.  Boy did that stir some emotion and push my comfort zone!!  What a gift!!!  The fundraiser (of course) was a gift but more than that – the opportunity to step fully into humility and embrace receiving was an opportunity to grow.  Full of hesitation, I tugged on the uncomfortable tight-fitting, breath-constricting role of receiver and found that it quickly conformed and fit comfortably with the added bonus of WARM FUZZIES.  Paul Meyer and I have never met but check out this quote from the fundraiser idea e-mail he approached me with:

“If you want to carry this burden on your own and spare your community the privilege and rewarding pleasure of supporting you, well, you will miss out on one of life’s great treasures, and one of the benefits of being a free spirit.  Don’t stop being a free spirit NOW for crying out loud!”

He nailed me.  He compassionately strummed exactly those notes which screamed loudest when I found myself struggling to accept.  Paul Meyer gave me the opportunity to grow and feel.  What a blessing.  I don’t know Carrie Kling but my heart hurts for the challenge of dystrophy and the money challenges which add insult to injury at a time of struggle in her life.  Have you struggled with the role of receiving?

Clearstory – oh glory!!

Sub zero temps put a halt to progress this week until yesterday when the boys were able to nearly finish the clearstory!!  The purpose of the clearstory it to allow ambient light into my studio (the windows haven’t been cut yet- they will be much bigger than the picture shows).  The BIG bonus of this particular clearstory is the nap room which will be in the back.  YUP!!  Thanks to Paul’s brainstorm, the nap room will sit up there like an observatory – perfect place to close my peepers or blow kisses to the sky!!!


From wood to bronze – a new sculpture!

I don’t believe that has ever happened to me before.  But then many things happened during this past year that never happened to me before.

I lost socks.

Seriously I don’t believe I have ever lost a sock in my life…a pair of stockings or two but never a sock.  Stockings are a given because stockings are uncomfortable, unnatural, inevitably itchy and confining.  So off they come at any opportune or inopportune moment.  But a sock?!  Never.  Now I have several lonesome mis-matches loitering at my cabin and Paul’s house.  He and the kids have a gazillion mismatched socks.  I used to raise my eyebrows and shake my head at the big basket of single socks mostly because Paul had socks in there but now I do too.  I inherited a huge pile of mismatched socks when I opened my heart to this family, which is no big deal and kind of sweet but I never expected to join the quandary of lonesome socks! 

I also dented my truck.  Twice.  Something I have never done during decades of driving but two times I backed into unseen obstacles last year.  I still shake my head, shrug my shoulders, and grimace when I see those big dents.  Dang.  I am chocking it up to last year.  By anyone’s definition, last year was exceptionally challenging and I have the dents to prove it.

BUT – I have digressed since the purpose of this post is to introduce the NEW bronze.  I glanced at my blog this morning and realized I’ve forgotten to post a picture of “Munch” even though the photos have existed since before Christmas.  Lordy.


“MUNCH” limited edition of 19

Look back two posts and you will see this bugger in its original state of wood.  I love how the chisel marks and even the wood grain are captured in bronze.  We went a few rounds at the foundry getting the patina just right.  Of course the patina process was happening the same time I was working around the clock to finish the Devil Woman Saloon sculptures AND move out of the space…what a whirlwind!  Here is another view of the finished piece:

Eighteen out of nineteen SOLD before the sculpture was officially launched on my site last week.  Patron Members always get the inside scoop and first chance at new art and this time they snatched ‘em up!!  I don’t blame them.  I would like to keep #19 myself but for now the bugger is for sale on my site.  A warm content feeling mixed with a bit of awe wraps my heart when sculptures find enthusiastic loving homes.