Montana Fires

My goodness - I am far behind with updates as I returned last month to Bhutan to complete the sculpture for the king a few months earlier than planned (with only two weeks to prepare during which I worked hard to try to complete a commissioned sculpture and then too - we took my mother's ashes to Nebraska to entomb with my father's ashes). Friday I finally felt more grounded and less jet-laggy.Meanwhile, Montana is experiencing an unprecedented fire season so I wanted to let you know that so far we are ok up here on my mountain while much of the state suffers and we are all under extreme alert and much smoke:

Fingers crossed...

I update Facebook and Instagram nearly daily (and will soon be investing in a way for my blog to be more connected to the daily updates)

Stay tuned (and stay safe)

A rabbit for a prince

I leapt into the project the morning after my arrival as if jet lag wouldn't catch me.  The weather has been unseasonably COLD since my arrival in Bhutan.  After two days at the job site finishing the panel with the snow leopard I carved last year, I got sick.  But I continued carving the little rabbit cheered me up as I struggled to carve in the cold with a cold and very little good light. [embed]https://youtu.be/Hgv5N6RvwHU[/embed]

Lofty Heights and Soulful Depths

Two weeks of spiritual, artistic, scenic, meditative inspiration and healing.  I feel more-than-blessed. I laughed. I cried. Humbled. Empowered. I felt. So MUCH on my pilgrimage hike to Tiger's Nest

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What a happy lot of giggling good energy - the staff at Risum Resort.

While I have zillions to share and stories abound - my internet time is limited.  Although internet is more accessible than one would think in this remote Himalyas valley, I am most often without the internet (which quite frankly is totally ok with me).  Contradictions abound and astound - but rather than being frustrated, I am amused.  For instance, plumbing in my room at this quaint resort freezes each night yet the beautiful staff girls who dote on guests who sing to themselvehave their own cell phones.

Today I completed the design for my carving.  Phew!  I say "Phew!" for several reasons.  I am rather out-of-shape creatively since life events and PTSD from the dog pack attack last year have kept me from creating.  Then too - EVERYTHING here is different.  Even simple things which I take for granted back home (like paper) are cause for a convoluted treasure hunt.  Don't get me started on tools....!  Well just to give you an idea -  back in Montana I pulled the aluminum framing square out of my suitcase at the last minute when Raymond insisted that certainly framing squares exist in Bhutan but it turns out "not so much" (the standard Bhutanese answer for many inquiries).  But I love it. 

I am slurping up the vivid culture like a hungry child.  Total immersion (another reason why blog-time hasn't happened much).  But I do manage Instagram and Facebook posts nearly daily so please follow me there.  Even if you don't participate much in either Social Media worlds, everything I post is public so you can follow and look freely.  The Bhutanese people are not slaves to time - "maybe after sometime" is also standard response - to everything.  

I like it.  Meanwhile, I will write another blog post sometime.  Maybe.  After.  Some.  Time.

 

Off to adventure...

Blurry-eyed and anxious Soooooo...... Best intentions of keeping you up to date literally slid sideways as a careless driver T-boned me when running a stop sign in an intersection, totaling my truck, battering my body and rattling my core just one day before the dedication party for the Bison Bench at the airport and five days before departure on the BIG adventure/Bhutan project.  Raymond took this photo of me at the airport early the morning of my departure to Bhutan:

Midas

King Midas is known in Greek mythology for his "golden touch."  Last year I was commissioned to paint a skull gold for a small reliquary sculpture and then asked to use gold for the reliquary to hold the golden skull.  Honestly I was a bit frightened of the power of so much gold in a small sculpture.  But of course I commission-to-please so; gold happened. I loved it.  I have more exploring with gold to do but meanwhile here is the latest venture (not a commission):

Love'n the GOLD...!

  

Getting back into the studio

Wood chips and sawdust - feels great to be back in the studio...! I pine for my studio/creative life when I am away from it too long.  I even get grumpy like someone who has skipped too many meals or given up chocolate. But I do not actually bounce back into the studio like a dog with my tail wagging. The process is more akin to that of a mother hen who is inclined to rest up, clean house, get things in order and zip playfully about the barnyard (or adventure beyond) before settling down to the mental task of preparing to lay eggs and the commitment of sitting on them.

So I hiked. I mountain biked. I raged war on the mice that took over my cabin during my absence and I super-deep-cleaned the horrific messes the mice made while partying all over my home. I napped. Eventually I sifted through piles of mail, unloaded the sculptures, cleaned the studio, took care of my mother and caught up with my closest friends. I read a book (or two).   I ate more junk food than usual and drank more whiskey than normal.

I climbed a mountain.  The very next day I found myself back in the studio making piles of woodchips and sawdust.  Feels sooooooo good to be back at it!!!

Better than chocolate…

dancing in the texas full moonlight

April ended with me clinging to a rock spire.  May began with a weekend at Charco Ranch where the sculptures arrived safely just as a big Beeville Fire Department fundraiser weekend party at Charco Ranch kicked off.  I pulled on a bright red volunteer T-shirt and jumped in to help out.  Thirty-two teams gathered with their BIG black barreled cookers to compete in a BBQ cook-off.  Yum!  The only thing better than the “no one is a stranger” genuine warmth of the Texas people, is the addition of delicious BBQ and libations to their innate hospitality.  Despite the 97 degree temps, each team hovered over hot cookers and offered heaps of succulent flesh, beans and liquor to anyone.  I couldn’t quit grinning (or sweating).  I drank my first (and 2nd) “Salted Dog,” spun to live music on a wooden dance floor in the middle of the covered riding arena, dished up and served fried fish and half chickens.

The BBQ fellas from Lufkin Texas charmed me the first evening.  Jeffery traded his camouflage and hunter orange “GAM” (Grown- Ass Men) team hat for my flame embellished Devil Women Saloon cap.  Dances were promised but forgone when the party moved into the saloon.  People are so totally taken with the custom Devil Woman Saloon Reliquary sculptures.  I must say it is fun to see and hear reactions as the sculptures hold court in their special spot in the world.  The next night brought more live music, plenty of dancing, and two auctions.   Once again the evening topped off with the intimate fun companionship and craziness in the Devil Woman Saloon where Brenda reigns as a fun-loving gracious and generous hostess.

A bigger-than-life full moon landed languid and lit on the final night.  We took one of the Kabota’s for a middle of the night spin on the 7000 acre ranch.  Spider webs lit and popped like fireworks as we bust through them, the front windshield open, hair flying.  Parked beneath a twisted knurly mesquite tree, serenaded by whippoorwills and visited by a wee little armadillo – new friendships were formed.  Stories were swapped and punctuated by an electrical storm which danced across the horizon until dawn.

beautifying a buggy

The buggy is over 100 years old, painstakingly restored by a friend of mine. I simply have to take after it with a brush and more red paint to personalize the jalopy for a saloon in Texas. After a very mild winter, Momma Nature decided to step in for a few hours and insta-dump super slick snow the ONE afternoon about a week ago when the wagon was scheduled for delivery. The trailer jack-knifed on my steep mountain road and really rattled the poor folks cautiously hauling the precious pricey antique to my sweet studio.  Cliff came to the rescue with chains and the kind of "hearty smarts" that come from decades as a logger.  He has plenty of experience with various back woods equipment fiascoes. Eventually we rolled the wagon off the trailer into my studio.  After we brushed the snow off ourselves I poured shots of whiskey to calm Harlon and Joell’s nerves (yes I keep a bottle of Jack at the studio). I can certainly use the commission and must say am enjoying my sun-filled studio space to "doodle it up!"

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. 

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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):

 

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NEW art

"Jubilee"

Three days of working in an air conditioned studio on a BIG beautiful ranch in Texas sandwiched between two days of travel last week. Travel days would be fun if it weren’t for the fact that I am easily prone to motion sickness. “Easily prone” means that I can get sick on a swing set. No exaggeration. But the recent commission is complete. I returned to my Montana studio yesterday and took a nap since I was too tuckered from my flight home to take after the big mesquite scultpures with power tools. 

Before the Texas trip, Patron Members got to see a preview of seven NEW artworks. “Jubilee” found a home right away and two other artworks were snatched up by my collectors. Thus, four new artworks have been posted on my site today. If you can identify just one of them as brand new then post a comment with your guess and if you are right, I will let you pick a limited edition print for free.

Take a look. Venture a guess…
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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. 
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Misty Morning in Texas

Misty morning in Texas on the Charco Ranch - I’ve a bit of a headache (the margaritas last night or simply dehydration from the intense humidity?) Hobo spent the night with me in the cushy air conditioned guest room which is part of the “Devil Woman Saloon.” He has flees, scars, and a limp but is the sweetest German Shepard I’ve ever met. Roosters are crowing and chickens are cackling while the ducks swim in kiddie pools outside the office here. I haven’t much time to write since the special paint I ordered is due to arrive from San Antonio on the bus in a few minutes and I’ve work to do on an old buggy bought from the Amish a few days ago. Texas is HOT. Humid. I’m melting but inspired by the early morning mist, the late night frogs, the heartfelt hospitality and a new project.

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