Mrs. Ferguson

Fergie_Schnackel

Recent sketch of Fergie from one of my old photos.

Last year I committed to commissioning Jenny at The Pet Chicken Ranch to make an art doll of Ferguson, my most favorite chicken of all time. Jenny’s work is meticulously hand done, takes a lot of time, and is very popular, so I have been on a waiting list and my number’s coming up!

So that Jenny could know as much as possible about her, I rounded up all the old photos of her. Most were so faded they were not of much use.  I set out to sketch her from my photos, and fill in the blanks with memory. The above sketch is mostly ink, (both fine tipped black pen and wide brush tipped markers), and some colored pencil. I was working on getting just the right colors. Also, I want the sketches I send Jenny to capture the hen’s perky, confident stance and character. While I’m not expecting an exact replica by any means, I want to provide all the data I can, as Fergie has long ago passed into the great pasture in the sky, so I can’t provide any new photos. It’s fun when some of Jenny’s customers show their pet chicken alongside the doll portrait! Jenny always captures the persona and look of the birds!

Back in the 70s and 80s, I had a tiny flock of fowl, all beloved and special, but as always there are favorites. I called her Fergie for short, but her whole name was Mrs. Ferguson, because when I first got her as an itty bitty newborn chick, she had a topknot and face that made her look just like an elementary school teacher I had by the same name.

Someone gave me Fergie. I hadn’t gone out to buy a chick. I was at a home where a girl my age was teaching me to ride horses, and this tiny chick ran by, alone. A man grabbed the chick and just gave it to me, saying it would likely not survive there anyway. I gleefully, accepted! Chickens from Heaven!

When I brought her by my parents urban house to show them, an aunt was visiting and proclaimed, “It’s gonna DIE!” Newborn Fergie was so tiny, and seemingly frail, but I’d had a penchant for bringing home runts as a kid, and they always seemed to grow into perfectly healthy animals. So I had faith in Fergie, and she did indeed live and grow into a beautiful and cocky little bantam silkie hen. I suspect she was only part silkie, but she mostly had silkie features. Black comb and skin, fur-like feathers, dark eyes and beek, feathered feet, and a crest like a little angora pom pom. She was a soft warm shade of off white plus quite a bit of fluffy charcoal gray. A few of her feathers weren’t quite all silkie, but they weren’t ‘hard’ like normal breeds, either. I figured somewhere in her lineage was some tiny bantam breed, maybe a spangled something or other by the markings some of her soft feathers bore. But mostly she was silkie.

Fergie was smart, and affectionate. Even if I’d had no previous experience with poultry to tell me they could be that way, she would’ve melted my heart. She loved attention, didn’t care a lot for other chickens, and would run to me to be scooped up, held and petted. She would sit in my lap and stretch out her neck to be petted, closing her eyes and trilling in contentment. She did make friends with my turkey, Dodo, possibly for the protection Dodo gave her from other chickens. Dodo seemed to enjoy Fergie’s company, too. Dodo and all of the birds were quite tame and affectionate. Fergie just seemed more so.

Though she wasn’t a layer breed she did lay eggs pretty often. They were tiny off white eggs. She was protective of them for a little while but never really got broody. I’m not sure Fergie really wanted more chickens, or even thought of herself as a chicken. In any case, the eggs weren’t fertile as I had no rooster. She once attacked a garden hose when I moved it near her nest box. She must have thought it was a snake. As tiny as she was, she could be fierce. She also liked to beat up my shoes, it was a favorite game.

Fergie lived about 10 years if I recall right. I think she might have lived longer had I known she had picked up a parasite. By the time the vet found out what it was, she was too old to survive being dewormed. He said if we didn’t put her to sleep she’d die a lingering and horrid death. Now, there are safer wormers for birds, but this was back in the early 80s and no doubt the vet wasn’t an avian specialist, something that’s more common nowadays. So, with much regret and sadness, I had to have Fergie put to sleep. As with other favorite pets, I don’t think I ever really get over their deaths. I’ve had and loved many animals in my more than half a century of living, but a few stick out and their memory never fades, and I still think “what if.” What if they were still with us?

When the doll is done, I’ll post a pic of it, and will probably post more about it on my Found a Chicken blog. I’ve been wanting to do a feature on Jenny, so that will be the perfect time to do so.

 

Jenny’s Pet Chicken Ranch:

ETSY: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PetChickenRanch?ref=shopinfo_shophome_leftnav

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PetChickenRanchHandmade

My other blog:

Found A Chicken: https://foundachicken.wordpress.com/

 

And I have not forgotten my other art! Today I was pasting pages of an old cookbook to a panel, to get it ready to be background for an anti-factory farming piece. I’ve been researching possums for a commission, and sketching them in unnatural and imaginary situations. I’m taking a break from ceramics for the summer, so we can spend more evenings in the pool instead of in a classroom until it starts to cool down. But, I have a package of air dry clay, and a number of found objects and saved cardboard tubes, etc, in case I get the urge to sculpt. I even still have a few thrift store pieces that never got altered in time for my show in March, that I might still get to. My main goal for the summer though is to do the commission and get a start on the factory farm series. I hope that the series will be ready to show as a group somewhere in about a year.

Summer so far, and a new site

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Backyard fauna that seems to thrive in the heat.

We had an unusually pleasant early summer that quickly turned to record breaking heat in mid June! Despite the heat, there was an enormous turnout for a show I was in this month, She Deck, in Beatrice Moore’s Frontal Lobe space. The show was put on by {9} The Gallery, owned by Laura Dragon, who had THREE shows opening that night on Grand Avenue in Phoenix. My piece, “Off Road,” sold opening night! :)

I recently joined Women Artists of the World’s website. I had been scrapping some sites I wasn’t getting enough out of, and stopped selling on Redbubble this year, (though I still keep an acct there). It was time to look for some new ground.  http://www.womenartistsoftheworld.com/profile/4483

SHE-DECK art show in June! [Edited June 21st]

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Off Road, acrylic on old skateboard deck, 32 x 6 inches, $300

“Off Road” will be available at the opening of the show, She Deck, June 19. Contact the gallery for purchase. [Edited: this sold on opening night, thank you, buyer!]

The show will be held at the Frontal Lobe gallery space, 1301 Grand Ave., Ste. B, Phoenix AZ. I’ll post updates if there are any!

{9}The Gallery: http://www.9thegallery.com/

Economizing on Art Supplies?

Whether you want to make your money go further, or you are into recycling, what are your methods of stretching your art material dollars?

Below are some of mine:

Sales and use coupons. Obvious, but if you’re not a natural born shopper, (I’m not!), you need to remind yourself. Stock up on things that won’t go bad before you can use them up, especially if you have the space. Use sales and coupons on the good stuff!

Avoid “False Economy.”  A $40 jar of specialty paint that dried up, waiting for you to think of “something special” to use it on, is a sad thing. Special is Right Now.

Also, expensive paints, mediums, brushes, and canvases, are often easier to work with, more archival, and in the case of paints, more richly pigmented. So it can actually cost as much or more to use cheap stuff.  Time is a factor that should be considered in economy. A material that slows you down isn’t economical.

Not everything needs to be archival to the point where it’s still pristine 500 years from now. As long as things are priced right, the art is good, and the buyers know what they’re getting, make use of recycled materials. Sometimes you can find masonite and playwood scraps, or second hand store items, that make perfectly good art and sculpture materials. Do seal wood before painting, it helps paint adhere and helps keep the resins in the wood from discoloring the paint. I like GAC 100, made by Golden, as a sealer. It’s what Ampersand who makes artists panels recommends for their bare masonite (hardbord).

Use acrylic mediums to extend expensive paints, especially to build texture, if possible.

Have a set of cheaper, or older worn brushes, for work that’s hard on tools. Save your best precision tools for when they are really needed.

Buy some good brush cleaner with one of those half off coupons. Most any soap will do in a pinch, but my favorite is the tub of Masters brush cleaner, and some airbrush cleaners for dissolving acrylics are nice, too. With a good coupon I can get a tub of Masters that lasts me a long time, and not feel like I have to be stingy with it. Some of my favorite good brushes are over 20 yrs old.

Save short stumps of colored pencils, etc, for a travel sketch kit.  You can use a pencil holder if they are too short to hold. They travel well, don’t break usually, and if you use them up or lose them it’s no big deal.

Capture your work with a digital camera or scan it.  Even if your recycled, unconventional art begins to fall apart, you can sell reprints indefinitely with a good high resolution digital image.

Reuse your own art.  Paint over things!  The old masters did it, and gessos and primers do a good job of hiding and sealing off old work, so you can repurpose the canvas or board.  Use broken ceramics to make mosaics.  Cut up old drawings you were going to trash, and make collages. Make sculptures out of found objects including some of your work that you were going to discard.

Buy what you will use up before it goes bad. I’ts false economy to buy large containers if they dry up on you.

Keep supplies organized and visible. When you can see what you have, you tend to use it up, and not buy stuff you didn’t need yet.

Ceramics and Skateboards

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Green Pants, ceramic monster, about 2″ tall, pictured in ceramic bowl, by Cindy Schnackel

We missed a couple of ceramic classes and most of the open studios in April, but we’ve managed to make a few things.  Here are some of my small creatures. Above is one I’ve named Green Pants. His hindquarters are Hunter Green, which came out a very bright green and blue, very pleasing. I like the way he looks in a bowl.

Believe it or not, the speckly glaze on the larger creature below is Cranberry, which is supposed to be red! I had glazed another creature with Cranberry and Snow White a couple weeks ago and it came out really red. There was speckling I really liked where the glazes overlapped, so I tried to duplicate that on the bowls and the larger creature below, (Fleabitten and Green Pants photo). By the time we went back to see them after firing, I’d forgotten what glazes they were. I loved the speckled glaze but wondered what glazes that was. What a surprise when I looked on my notes to see it was Cranberry! Nonetheless I’m thrilled with how it came out, and feel it is better the way it is, than if it had been red. (Fleabitten is a name used to describe the coat of a gray horse where the gray and white are kind of speckly not solid.)

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Two Ceramic Creatures, Fleabitten, and Green Pants, Cindy Schnackel

 

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Small bowl with lovely though unexpected “fleabitten” effect. Cindy Schnackel, wheel thrown.

Above, is a little larger and better wheel thrown bowl than the one Green Pants like to sit in. Had we gotten back to class in time to trim feet on our bowls, this would’ve been among my most successful as far as symmetry and not being a heavy clunker. But even with a flat bottom, instead of carved out foot, it’s a very usable bowl and I liked the surprising way the glaze turned out, (Cranberry and Snow White). You just never know!

Below is Red, a spiky, legless creature with kind of flowy side fins.  He’s shown with little Lumpy, who also has a side view so you can see she has udders. I believe Lumpy is at least partly Hunter Green glazed.

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Red and Lumpy, Cindy Schnackel, ceramic

I may be showing a painted skateboard this summer. A skate shop gave me a free used one that was too beat up for anything else. About all I can tell you is it’s almost certainly going to have a bird on it. I’ve started it, and it will likely go thru a few changes yet, before I’m done.  The show will be in downtown Phoenix at a pop up gallery, sponsored by {9} The Gallery. The show is called She Deck. I’ll share details closer to the event.

 

 

Revamped my Redbubble page

Due to changes on the Redbubble site I decided to just stop selling products on a POD, at least for now. I removed or put on private view, a lot of images, and removed all options to buy anything on a product or reprint. The page is now just a sample portfolio with links to pertinent sites or info.

My revamped Redbubble page: http://www.redbubble.com/people/cschnack

 

Drawing on “stone paper”

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Stone paper notebook purchased at Whole Foods

One of the last places I expected to find an “art supply,” let alone a type of paper I’ve been wanting to try, was Whole Foods! They had two sizes, this was the larger one, about 5 x 7 inches. The paper is thin, and lined. Despite the thinness of the paper it didn’t buckle even when wet, and didn’t bleed thru. It did ’emboss’ if I pressed hard on wetted areas. The paper feels super smooth, but surprisingly has pretty good tooth for pencil. I’ve never used Yupon paper, a synthetic, but I’ve read that watery media kind of floats around on Yupon, and it kind of did on this, too. It’s not absorbent like regular paper. Just how dissolvable things were once dry varied. I used regular colored pencils, water soluble colored pencils, graphite, and several kinds of ink pens such as ballpoint, felt tip, and alcohol based markers. My source of water was a Pentel water pen, which has a nice brush tip and only holds water. Washes dried slower on this paper, and there were some surprising things about just which inks redissolved when wet.

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Various doodles on 6 x 7 ish stone paper, April 2015, Cindy Schnackel

Even some inks that aren’t very soluble did allow me to push the pigment around a bit with the waterbrush on this paper. For as smooth as it is, it allowed some layering with colored pencils. For pen and paper nuts and hand writing nuts, I think you’d like this, as the pens and pencils just glide across it. Very smooth going.

Next time, I’m going to experiment with more layering of materials, and with gluing, to see what it’s like for collage.

This is the only source I know of so far in the US for stone paper as an art paper, Cheap Joe’s has it, it’s called TerraSkin. Curious to try it and compare. http://www.cheapjoes.com/mitz-terraskin-multimedia-art-paper.html