2011 February Archive | Amber Jean

Skip to Content

Monthly Archives: February 2011

sheetrock and eaglemount warm fuzzies

One of the commitments which pulled me from the studio Tuesday was my weekly volunteer ski day for Eaglemount.  Jackie giggles and grins her way down the mountain.  Sometimes she […]

let the finishing begin!!!

What does an artist do during 3 months of being totally studio-less?  Obsessive Ebay searches and paint chip collecting. I have lived in a log cabin for the last 16 years […]

pick of the week – brrrrrr!

Sixteen degrees below zero today.  I picked "Oboe" since the piece has a crystal-like quality.  "Oboe" looks like I feel today, a bit fuzzy but wide-eyed and happy to see  the horizon begin to lighten and brighten earlier each day as we inch toward spring.

Half price with all of the funds going toward charity.  Friends of GNFAC – The Avalanche Center will be the recipient.

from puppies to powder!

I followed a fresh set of mountain lion tracks down the driveway to my cozy little cabin at the end of the road near the top of a mountain in Montana…a long way from the warm nights of Texas ranch life!  Temps dropped below zero soon after I drug my little suitcase up the patio steps and shoveled my way into the door.  The little place heats up pretty quickly – by the time Zaydee has made her rounds sniffing out every visitor who roamed outside while we were gone – I can take my down coat off and settle in.  I ignored cyberspace for the most part during President’s Day Weekend.  I squeezed in a soul refreshing long yoga class, bought groceries and hunkered down happily on the mountain content to stay put for a few days.  I enjoyed a slumber party with a girlfriend – drinking hot toddies and peering at paint chips for the studio, finished reading a book while soaking in my big claw foot tub, poked around my freshly sheet rocked studio, hiked and post-holed my way through deep snow late one crisp cold afternoon.  The last afternoon was sunny – I strapped on skis to enjoy the sunshine and powder while skiing up and down the mountain behind my home.  Ranch life with cute furry babies seemed a world away.  

My work week started with a 3 hour dentist appointment.  Dr Amy Madden Kinney is a talented dentist AND my cousin.  Lucky for me we trade art for dental work.  After a round in the dentist’s chair I scooted to Bridger Bowl to ski with little Jackie for the Eaglemount program, and then to the school to watch the girls’ basketball games before unpacking my truck and settling into a week in Bozeman with Paul and the kids.  Already it is nearly time to get them up for school and launch into a business-part-of-art day while itching to get back after it in the studio…soon!

I hear my studio calling…

I guess 2:15 a.m. is about the middle of the night.  I am simply not used to warm nights – not even summer in Montana has many warm nights but here I am dorking around in the middle of the night in flip flops and shorts and it’s February.  I am leaving in an hour to catch an early flight out of San Antonio.  Ranch life is sweet and my hosts are awesome but I hear my studio calling me.  When I left a week ago three fellas were spraying insulation. I guess the place has been totally sheet-rocked this week which means I can paint the interior walls next week – fun colors in the bathroom, the office, and the nap room.  My excitement is bubbling – tickling my nose and fizzing my innards.

Can you see three guys in this photo?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I am just bursting with love today!!!  The Cosmos is grinning down at me – warm and friendly.  I am at the ranch in Texas which is beaming with life and sunshine.  A teeny new little 3 week old miniature baby burro with fluffy old man eyebrows has been hanging close to his mom and kicking up his heels playfully – both new additions since my last visit three weeks ago.  A new calf came into the world yesterday, slick and big-eared.   One of the hunting dogs had puppies which I hear are teensy but will go see for myself today.
The chickens ran toward me like a crazed fan club when I showed up with a bag full of scraps.  They sure are silly fun quirky fretful critters.  Yesterday we flew to another ranch where the boys caught fresh bass.  YUM!!  Paul impressed us with his culinary skills during a fresh fried fish feast (say that 3 times fast!).  Desert was fresh strawberries dipped in warm chocolate.  Yum!
I woke a few hours before the sun and stretched through my morning yoga Sun Salutations before sipping tea and getting to the desk part of work.  An early walk in the fog had me a bit worried about stepping on snakes but once the sun came up, I pulled on my sneakers and went for a run – which did not seem as difficult as the first time I ran on the ranch nearly a month ago.  Phew!

Pick of the Week

I selected “Victor” for this week’s Pick of the Week because of his name and the cause.  My friend Aaron Mulky has created a unique fundraiser to take care of one of our tribe in her time of need.  Echo Oak was injured when she fell 200 feet while climbing ice.  She spent a cold winter night outside before her rescue but she is recovering thank goodness.  Aaron and his partner are going to climb ice for 24 hours straight to raise funds for Echo’s medical bills.  See their event. 

Buy “Victor” for half price and all of the moola will contribute to Aaron’s efforts – Victor-ious all around.

Why Climb Ice?! (has more to do with my art than you think)

I am crazy about climbing and even crazier about climbing ice.  ICE?!!!  Yup.  I’ve tried to reason that one out myself and can’t.  How can a sport where frozen fingers, bitter cold cramps, huge helpings of danger, long difficult approaches and a guarantee of suffering be something to be crazy for?

Ah…but the ice.  The ice!  Constant changing sculpture…capturing light, holding light, bouncing light, sucking light, reflecting light, spitting light.  Magic.  The stuff of crystal balls…enticing…confusing…delicate and impressive.  Like the eyes of the snake in the Walt Disney version of Jungle Book…ice entices.  “Trust in me…eeeeeeeee,” the snake sings, his eyes spinning, working their magic.  Allure, hypnotism and like Mogli I am drawn in grinning stupidly.

“You…are…so…beeaaauuuuutifulllllll…I say all dreamlike.

But then comes the moment of getting down to business…which means getting my feet off of the ground and that is where the voices come in.  I’ve a zillion of them.  “You haven’t eaten enough.”  “You are not strong enough”  “You’re nuts.”  Maybe its too early…too late…the ice too hard…too soft…too long…too blue.  What if these weren’t the right gloves?  Underwear?  Chap stick?  Egads the voices can be loud and obnoxious like a kindergarten class before school.  But the bell rings…the voices get louder and the activity even more frenzied before the teacher claps her hands yelling, “Settle down”  I send the thoughts to their desks…better yet…I try to shut them up inside the desks and worry about the mess later.  Right now I gotta climb.

And so I do.  Clumsy at first…I know and now accept the fact that it takes me awhile to warm up to any activity I am doing.  Others leap out of the starting gate and whiz into things.  I wheeze.  But long after their jumpstart I’ve found a pace and a place in my mind where the energizer bunny lives…I can keep going and going and going.  Thank god.  Somehow I find myself being of the right constitution to keep plodding.  Onward and upward…one foot in front of the other…or an ax placement in the ice a toe kicking a crampon point in…I can make myself keep going.








After the clumsy klutzy start, the doubts and dreams tumble and jumble together creating an intoxicating tonic that quenches my thirst for living.  The same elixir propels me to create – pushing boundaries and scaring myself in the studio day after day.  Art happens in the places and spaces outside the comfort zone.  Curiosity, drive and passion push.  Art happens when I get my feet off of the ground and the Energizer Bunny steps in to propel me forward.  Much of art is plodding – one chisel mark after another – chasing a vision sparked by light.  Art making is as ethereal as water – flowing or momentarily frozen – constantly changing, challenging, and compelling.  Humbling.  Inticing.  Adventurous art is a leap of faith finessed with skill and the kind of sharpened intuition which comes from a bold spirit tuned in.






Ice is Nice

I debated Saturday night whether to spend Super Bowl Sunday on a ski tour around Bunsen Peak in Yellowstone (wouldn’t be able to take Zaydee) or ski near Chico Hot Springs with Zaydee and include a soak afterwards.  I woke early feeling a bug in my bones and knew I had to cancel ski plans with my girlfriend to hunker down in my cozy cabin while snowflakes fell big as cotton balls.  Seems like everyone around me has been sick and alas – finally – I succumbed. 



BUT – being ill has its little blessings.  Sipping tea, I talked for 2 hours by phone with my dear friend Wynn in Nashville.  After weeks of phone tag my couch time allowed talk time.  I read a book – what shouldn’t be but seems to have become a luxury in my busy world.  I looked up some artists who inspire me on the internet to see their new creations.  I soaked in my beloved claw foot tub.  I slept.

Luckily a few days before the bug I enjoyed a relatively warm day playing on ice with friends and have a few pictures to share.


Cool amphitheater of ice at Big Sky.

The extra bulge in my coat is a warm pair of fat gloves…

Climbing behind frozen falls is fun and challenging…

Pick of the Week

Fun and whimsical – "Zuko" seemed like a bright cheery pick on this winter grey day.  My girlfriend Stacey Herries is having an art opening at Tart next week with 20% of sales going to the Gallatin Mental Health Center.  The "Pick of the Week" is going to piggy-back with her charity choice.  Half price for you – 100% from your purchase will support the same charity.